Meet YEO Foundation’s beneficiary of Season 1: Yemisi Olukotun as she shares her entrepreneurial journey and how she plans to help the local economy by training more women in the bead and hat making business.

Tell us about yourself?
My name is Yemisi Olukotun. I am married with 2 children and I attend the House On The Rock church. I’ve always had the flair for creativity, but never had the opportunity to go for proper training ,so I’m very grateful to YEO Foundation for giving me the wings to fly on.

How did you begin your sojourn in the creative business?
I once had a teacher who used to make all sorts of hair fascinators, beads and other fashion accessories. After I completed my secondary school education, I discovered that she had a vocational school ,but I couldn’t afford the training then. So I went online to gain knowledge and also learnt from a couple of other friends who were into bead making . However, I never had the opportunity to go for a proper training until I got the grant from YEO Foundation.

What were you doing before you started the business?

I’m gainfully employed as a civil servant, but I saw the need to have other streams of income. I had my first degree at Obafemi Awolowo University and my second degree at the University of Lagos, but I couldn’t get something tangible to do career wise, so I started working for the state government. I started my business by selling slippers because I lacked the required skills to venture into the bead making business.

When did you receive the grant and how has your business faired since then?

I received the Start-up grant of N250,000 on the 17th of March, 2017 which was about two years ago.I had some basic simple designs prio to the grant and therefore could venture into proper beading training 3 months later. I fully launched the beadmaking line of business that same year. Apart from making and selling beads, I also partner with some NGOs to train either widows or unemployed youths and presently I am in partnership with an NGO to train about 350 youths. I am also looking forward to partnering with YEO Foundation.

How profitable is your business?
My business is very profitable. I make N100,000 naira in profits from the beading business . As you can see, I make hair fascinators as well. I make over N50,000 from the hair fascinators too.

How did you build your clientele base in 2 years?
Being a Computer Scientist by profession and study, I know a lot about Social Media Marketing. I have an Instagram page and a website running. I have an email list where I send mails to one-time customers or prospective customers. I follow fashion pages and those who attend parties like “Owanbe Naija”, wedding pages and lots more. So my customers are mostly party rockers.I send them the DMs with a ready-made message and I urge them to visit my website every month. I get most of my customers online and of course there is a physical store where they can pick up their products and we also do worldwide delivery. I’ve sent some of my products to Canada, USA and other places. So it is a mix of the two; Social media marketing and Walk-in customers.

What qualified you for the grant?
I would say God in action. I was in church on a particular sunday when I heard an announcement that Mrs. Odumakinde in a bid to mark her 50th birthday would like to support women in business and those interested should wait behind. I filled the form and I was shortlisted afterwards for an interview.

You initiated a move to repay the grant from YEO Foundation. What inspired that?

I strongly believe in the part of the bible that says “Owe no man no debt”. One of the mentors we had at the time of the interview did mention that we had to give an account of the use of the start up capital. I always had that at the back of my mind.

What would you like to say to YEO Foundation?
The very first thing I l’ll say is that God bless YEO Foundation and God bless the pocket that made this difference in my business. I also want to pray that all the heart desires of Mrs. Odumakinde for this foundation will be granted in multiple folds. N250,000 is a lot of money and I wasn’t the only one who got the grant. People got different amounts of money and I’m sure a lot of people got way more than I did based on their needs. It’s rare to find someone who caters to the needs of others in this age and time. Sincerely when Mrs. Odumakinde told me that I didn’t have to pay back the grant , I literally screamed and I was in a public place when I made the call. I was like, “wow,this is such an amazing woman. May God bless her richly.” I am indeed very grateful and I really want to give back to the foundation. I would love to partner with YEO Foundation to impact lives.