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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Compassionate Nigerians helped me to transition from street hawker to restaurateur and perfumer -Food science graduate

American author Zig Ziglar once said, ‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’ This highlights the importance of embracing small beginnings and watching them flourish into something truly remarkable.

Today, Miss Favour Ndukwe shares how she transited from being a struggling street hawker to the owner of a booming restaurant and perfume business. She shares her riveting story with SONIA OKERE

My name is Favour Ndukwe, and I am from Abia State. I am the first of two children, and I grew up in the city of Port Harcourt. Being the only daughter, I was loved and cherished by my dad. Although he wasn’t wealthy, he worked very hard to provide for his family. Life was good until we lost him when I was 15 years old.

Favour during her street-hawking days

After his death, we began to struggle for survival. My mom was a trader, and I started hustling to support the family at a tender age. I have sold over a thousand different items. I used to sell in the market before going to school in the morning. Despite the hard work, we were still very poor.

As a child, my dream was to become a nurse or a medical doctor. However, I couldn’t chase that dream because I had no sponsor. So, I pursued a career in catering services, which I’m very passionate about.

I have sold over a thousand different items. I used to sell in the market before going to school in the morning. Despite the hard work, we were still very poor

Becoming a graduate against all odds
I attended Michael Okpara University and studied Food Science and Technology. I must confess that the journey was very challenging. While I was in school, I was trading and doing menial jobs for survival. I couldn’t afford to buy some of my textbooks, and I almost dropped out of school due to financial challenges. So, during those trying times, I used to cry to my Heavenly Father to help me. Sometimes, the answers to my prayers came very late. However, I’m glad that in the end, everything worked out for good and I graduated successfully.

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Favour at her street corner outlet

Life after graduation
I believe that acquiring skills and knowledge can unlock the doors to limitless opportunities. So, over the years, I learned skills like soap, perfume, and bleach production. I also learned about bag making and hairstyling. When I couldn’t get a well-paid job after I left the university, I started using those skills to earn a token.

While I was in school, I was trading and doing menial jobs for survival… I learned skills like soap, perfume making, and bleach production, bag making and hairstyling

As mentioned earlier, I enjoy cooking. Meanwhile, my mother was a food vendor, and I have always desired to own a first-class restaurant. So, after trying different businesses, I started a ‘mama put’ business. Initially, I was cooking six cups of rice every day, yet there were days I couldn’t sell everything. I used to sit somewhere and wait for customers, but when I saw that the sales were poor, I started hawking the food. Imagine a university graduate pushing a wheelbarrow with her food coolers from one street to another. I didn’t care about what people would say. I was only interested in fending for my family.

Favour Ndukwe, the Haven’s Pot Exec

Fortunately, when I started hawking, I made more sales. Besides selling delicious rice, another thing that attracted my customers was my neatness.

The challenges of entrepreneurship
I was living in a public compound with over 80 tenants. There was no private kitchen, and I had to cook in an open space with firewood. Sadly, whenever it rained, everything would be messed up. After going through the stressful process of preparing the food, I still had to push the heavy food coolers in a wheelbarrow from one street to another.

There was a day I got hit by a car, and my food coolers fell into the open drainage. Oh no! I wept so badly! I cried to God to show me mercy. I wanted a new beginning

There was a day I got hit by a car, and my coolers of food fell into the open drainage. Oh no! I wept so badly and didn’t know what to do. When I got home that day, I cried to God to show me mercy. I had suffered a lot and wanted a new beginning.

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My turning point
I have always shared my thoughts on social media. So, one day, I decided to share the challenges I was experiencing as a food vendor. That post went viral, and that was the dawn of my new beginning.

After top influencers and blogs shared my story, good-hearted Nigerians donated for me. In fact, popular gospel artist Judikay rented a shop for me, and Mr. Charles Awuzie, a South Africa-based cyber security expert, supported me greatly. So, that was how I launched my standard restaurant business called Haven’s Pot.

Each time I remember where God brought me from, I always shed tears of joy

Experiencing profound growth
Since I became the owner of a restaurant, the journey has been amazing. One lesson I learned is that hard work pays, but smart work pays more. Due to the expansion of the business, I had to employ extra hands to maximise our productivity and profits. I also invested in perfume business, which is yielding good profits.

Each time I remember where God brought me from, I always shed tears of joy. Indeed, I’m a woman helped by God.

Conclusion
Everyone knows that the journey of life is filled with twists and turns. God didn’t promise us a smooth ride; He only said He’d make the crooked paths straight. Therefore, when you get to those crooked junctions, draw His attention to His promises and keep trusting in Him.

popular gospel artist Judikay rented a shop for me, and Mr. Charles Awuzie, a South Africa-based cyber security expert, supported me greatly

Finally, don’t be lazy; and no matter what, keep fighting. It will be worth it in the end!

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