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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Passion, Drive and Discipline Is Key To Success in Business - Founder MUDI AFRICA

Meet Clem­ent Mudiaga Enajemo, the man behind popular fashion brand, MUDI AFRICA. His story and rise to the top reflects the true entrepreneurial spirit of refusing to give up. In a recent interview with Sun News, he shared about his entrepreneurial journey, the need for Passion, Drive and Discipline to succeed in business and why our government should glamorise artisans. Read below:

How has the journey been so far for you as an entrepreneur?
Let me use the word, challenging, because when I started up, there was no structure. I had no capital or a godfather to assist me. That I was able to rent my first shop was through Richard Mofe Damijo’s (RMD) assistance. Then I was trying to raise money to rent a shop, until I became stranded, confused and frustrated but it was RMD that came to my rescue.

I needed N47, 000 to complete the rent, but had only N17,000 with me, so RMD lent me N30,000 to make up the rent. Before he gave me the money he called my name and admonished me in pidgin saying, “Mudi, this money wey I wan give you, I no wan regret am o” (Mudi, I don’t want to regret lending you this money). I pleaded with him that I under stood how difficult it was to trust people but that he should give me the benefit of the doubt and assist me.

Back then, I was going from one office to another and was kept waiting at reception halls before I could come and beg for some financial assistance. When RMD wanted to give me the money, I asked him to allow his younger brother, Matin Mofe-Damijo to go with me and make the payment in their name. This happened here in Anthony Village, La­gos, in 1996. We made payment for two years and when the landlord heard that the payment was made by the Mofe-Damijos, he got ex­cited, signed and rented the shop to me. After payment, it took me another three months to move into the shop because I needed to raise money to put up essential facilities like ceiling fan, carpet and painting. That was how I started working.



When the two-year rent expired, I couldn't get enough money to renew my tenancy for another year. So, I managed to raise money for six months rent but the landlord refused, insisting that I must pay for one year or I quit the shop. I had to go and beckon to my landlord’s close friend, Fola Agidagba to come and plead on my behalf. The landlord agreed to accept six months’ rent from me and warned that I’ll be kicked out if I didn't complete the rent in few weeks’ time. Fortunately under two weeks, I was able to raise enough money to pay for a year.

What kept you going all through those tough periods?
It was just the passion. Passion is key to whatever you aspire to do. During those tough times I was searching for assistance, I went to an elderly friend of mine. I shared my dreams with him and asked him to loan me some money. But he said, “Mudi, forget this work, it would not pay you.” He told me that he would link me to his friends that bring in readymade clothes that I can be selling from office to office and make more money. He mentioned many designers whose businesses have folded up and insisted that my aspiration would definitely get me nowhere. That made me weep but at a point, I smiled to my­self in consolation.

What important lesson did you learn amid all your strug­gles?
It’s a thin line between success and fail­ure; if I had listened to the voices that tried to discourage me, I may not have become what I am today. Two scenarios I would never forget. One is before I met RMD, then I was based in Iko­si in Ketu working from a small room. Then I go from office to office in search of custom­ers that would want me to make some shirts and trousers for them. And I made just be­tween N50 and N100 profit for a wear. That was in 1993. 

So, I got back home one day feeling frustrated and angry because some of my clients didn't pay me. I trekked from the bus stop to my house and was very tired. I had a friend that shared my room with me, who was into yahoo-yahoo (cyber fraud). He was preparing scam letters to send to his in­ternational contacts via email, when I came in lamenting how terrible my day has been. He looked at me and asked, “Mudi, this work wey you dey do, when you go buy car with this work?” Life is a mystery; it is a thin line between bad and good. Imagine the frustration and tough times, I was passing through with my room-mate scorning and asking whether I could excel in fashion designing.
If not for passion, I could have been lured into evil.

Again, when I started up, I recalled how Fola Agidagba advised me to be more serious about saving money. I took that advice and stated making daily contributions. I was in­troduced to one that comes around to collect daily contributions from petty traders. I joined and started contributing N50 per day. At the end of the month he brought N1, 500. I was impressed but I knew I could do better. So, I moved to contributing N100 per day. At the end of the month, he brought N3,000. Then I moved up to N200, then N300, and at the end he brought N9000. I was at that level for three months before I then moved up again to N500.

Unlike now where you have banks all over, then the closest bank was Afri-Bank which was located in Ketu. So, when the man came at the end of the month with my sav­ings, I would take out the salary of my sales boy, which was N3000. I would then take molue to Ketu, deposit the remaining money in the bank. Also, because I was still saving, I left my withdrawal booklet with RMD and instructed him never to release it to either me or anybody for the mean time.

Later again, I moved up to saving N700 per day. Then at a point, I checked my ac­counts and found that I had saved N272, 000. So, from 1998 to 2001, I was able to save without making any withdrawal. A friend promised to assist me to get a car that would aid my delivery. I then went to withdraw N250, 000. After buying the car, I continued the contribution with N1000 every day.

That was how I raised money to expand my brand and then moved into a two-bed­room flat. Immediately I moved into that flat, the contribution man suddenly stopped com­ing around to our area. I began to get worried after noticing his long absence, but a pastor told me that the man must have come to my life for a purpose. And that purpose has been achieved in my life and it is time for me to move to another level. Since that time, I have not seen the man again.

I kept on working harder; I bought a 45kva generator for my shop and got married, while still living in a one-room self-contained. For me, work comes first before pleasure. So, I tried to put in place structures for my busi­ness to grow further. I kept expanding the shop while many tried to convince me on the need to move out of my one room for a bigger house to live in. But I insisted on the need to stabilize my business. It was until I was satisfied with the standard of my brand, MUDI that I moved into a two-bedroom flat.

What should the youths learn from your story?
I tell the youths that come to me for advice to go find their passion, because it’s key to success. They should have the drive to show­-case their passion and take it to another level. Drive makes you to keep working. Another is discipline. No matter how successful you are, you must be disciplined. 
Dis­cipline influences your way of life generally

I live a strictly regulated lifestyle because of the discipline I have imbibed over the years. I’m always at my shop latest 7am, I don’t go to clubs very much although I’m not opposed to partying. I remember an incident when I came to work few minutes after 8 o’clock af­ter going to visit an uncle. When I finally arrived at the shop, an elderly neighbour called me aside and queried why I came late. It was there I realised that people keep tabs on our activities.

What does it take to run and excel in business in Nigeria?
It takes passion. Passion would keep you up and away from negativities and challeng­es that you would encounter on your way. Then drive would help you to keep focused and discipline would keep you working. So, P.D.D-Passion, Drive and Discipline, is key to the success of any business not only in Nigeria but elsewhere in the world. For instance, compare two designers. One comes to work around 7am while the other comes by 10am. Both of them definitely can’t be on the same level.

How can we as nation stimu­late entrepreneurship among youths and the army of unem­ployed graduates?
I would call on government to try and glamorise artisans. Take a look at the music industry. Now, a lot of youths want to become musicians because they appear on TV. So, let try and replicate such glam in the world of artisans. For instance, take a look at the few youths that have embraced crafts and making of shoes. Those shoemakers have held their own even without any laid-down structure or government’s assistance. 

Why not organise a shoe fair where all the shoemakers in the country can come to a location probably in Abuja, where they would exhibit their wares? Let the best designers be picked among them. Let the winning shoemaker dine with the president of our country. Imagine the kind of value such gesture would add to that sec­tor. It would attract more youths to go into shoemaking when they see it could get them noticed.

Again, get prominent personalities that have massive followership like Tony Elume­lu, Ben Bruce, Larry Izamoje, RMD to wear and endorse shoes made by Nigerians. Imag­ine the awareness and the boost it would give to made-in-Nigeria shoes. Such would spark vibrant competition among our shoemakers which would bring more quality and superior made-in-Nigeria shoes that could be exported to other countries of the world.

It is sad we have a government that is not creative when thinking of how to create jobs for the teeming populace. Look at the You- Win Project; it is almost like a wasted effort. Many came with fantastic business plans that won them the grants but at the end they have been unable to bring to existence what they have written on paper. Government fell for theoretical ideas that are still abstract, while we have youths that have already started and are in dire need of government’s financial support to boost their ventures and create more jobs. 

Government should look out for the ones that have well structured businesses and support them. Government and the society need to glamorise, project, promote and respect artisans. Imagine the re-orientation the society would get when they see a shoe­-maker they know in their neighbourhood dining with the president. That would make many more to go on and learn crafts because it would get our youth to understand that there is dignity in labour. It is certain we have the population and market for anything we do well here in Nigeria.

Just take a look at what former President Obasanjo did. When he came to power, he wore ankara. Prior to that time, you’ll never find ankara in show glasses of any fashion designer. Now many people open shop and selling only ankara because a president came and highlighted the value.

If not fashion what other thing would you venture into?
I like working with my hands and I’m proud to say it. So, if not fashion I did opt into carpentry. And produce high quality furniture. Abroad, when they see a plumber, they respect him but here plumbers are even ashamed to mention their trade. We artisans must learn to be proud of what we do.

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