With vast experience garnered from banking, manufacturing and starting off Traders of Africa (an online platform that connects buyers with sellers of agro produce), she is waxing strong.
She recently shared her story in an interview with Newsmen. Enjoy.
Prior to Traders of Africa (TOFA), Uzo-Ojinnaka was in Banking for nine years
My name is Uju Uzo-Ojinnaka. I am the last in the family of 11. My mum had nine children. I have four brothers and four sisters. I am married to an awesome guy and we have four children. I attended University of Lagos; I studied Sociology and now a Cohort of the China Europe International Business School.
How Traders of Africa started
Prior to Traders of Africa (TOFA), I was in Banking for nine years. I worked in Fidelity Bank, Metropolitan Bank, Broad Bank, a bit at Access Bank; then I quit Banking when I was about to Join Bank PHB.
Afterwards, I started up a toilet paper Manufacturing Plant. I failed at it and ‘closed shop’. I went on to join my husband in a family business where we were selling home electrical appliances. We then grew the business and branched out to a construction depot. Then sometime last year, we started off Traders of Africa (TOFA). “Traders of Africa” is a Pan African online market place for products grown, produced or manufactured in Africa only.
Challenges and how she handles them
Challenges we have are many and we still have till tomorrow. When this idea came, knowing my person and knowing that I put a 150% of everything I have into anything I do, I go to God first. He blessed me with an awesome team. For starters we began work on TOFA with the platform called http://www.tradersofafrica.com. When the tech team started with the consultant, by the end of that week, more than half of the staff had left. Those people left because they were not ready to work. The problem is they compared us to other e-commerce platforms of the world forgetting that we are a start – up and people need to work. By the end of July I was left with only the tech team and admin. So the most difficult thing I encountered in TOFA was the people.
Not bothered about being called a farmer
Before when people say “I’m a farmer” they attribute it to those in the village who farm on a plot of land. Not anymore. People are actually proud to say I’m a farmer these days. In the past year, one and a half years, what I’ve been seeing, a lot of people are actually going into a farming value chain. I call it a myth, it’s no longer there. People are quick to what to go into farming or any form of “agric” or agro – commodities.
Traders of Africa is an online platform that connects buyers with sellers of agro produce
How she unwinds
I read. I also play games on my laptop and my phone. I also noticed that when I play games I think a lot. I have a good friend that I also talk with. I also hangout with my friends and family a lot
Advice to the Nigerian youth
Candidly, it is going to be difficult. Except what you want to do is not challenging but it’s going to be very difficult. I keep saying keep your eyes on the ball and take up actions that are attainable. For instance; you might want to be the biggest cashew nut processing company in the world, you won’t start it in one day. It’s a good dream; you are going to have a lot of issues in the process. Can you break it down: to in the first year, I want to plant two cashew trees and focus on it. The time to build a foundation is the most difficult; but when you build a very strong foundation and it sprouts then nobody can stop it.
Go to http://www.tradersofafrica. If you have any product grown, produced, manufactured in Africa or you are looking for any product, please check Traders of Africa. Apart from the people we have on the platform, we also have people that are offline.
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