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I need soft loan to grow my business -Varsity graduate-turned-caterer

It is one thing to have eye for business; it is another thing to have access to fund that will grow it. According to the International Monetary Fund, worldwide, women’s access to finance is disproportionately low. And this corroborates the experience of Oluwabunmi Olatunji, who shares her business journey with our correspondents

Although an indigene of Ogun State, Oluwabunmi spent her early life in Maryland, Lagos, where she was born and raised.

Her mother was a civil servant and her father was a businessman, and they provided for all her needs.

As far as she could recall, life was good until Mr. Death took her father away. She was six years old then. Since her dad was the family’s major breadwinner while alive, things became very tough following his demise, and her mother had to struggle daily to provide for her and three other siblings.

Education
The first school Oluwabunmi attended was Saint Agnes Primary School, Maryland, Lagos. After obtaining her first school leaving certificate, she proceeded to Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School, after she went further to obtain a National Certificate in Education from the Kaduna State University via a long-distance study at the Lagos Study Centre in Ipaja, Abesan.

I lack access to soft loan. I need funds to expand my business

The catering business
As a child, Oluwabunmi’s dream was to become a teacher. However, she also loves cooking. So, after she graduated from secondary school, her mother sent her to a catering school.

“Back then, there was a very big shop in Maryland where all kinds of snacks were sold. I used to admire the cakes and small chops whenever I passed by. So, one day, I told my mother that I would like to learn how to bake. Fortunately, she supported me and paid my training fee.

“Some years later, I was a university graduate who couldn’t secure a well-paid job. I worked as a teacher for some years, but I didn’t enjoy the work because of the delay in salary payments.

So, one day, I decided to start a catering business, and I have been doing it for over 15 years. It is a better option because I make profit every day.

“I am married with two children. My husband works as a commercial driver, and his income cannot foot all the family’s bills. So, I contribute my quota. It hasn’t been a rosy journey, but I’m grateful to God for His provisions so far.”

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Challenges
Due to the nature of the business, Oluwabunmi says she hardly has enough time to rest.

“This business is very stressful and time-consuming. I’m still doing it because of the money I make every day. I wake up as early as 3 a.m. to prepare the snacks before taking them out for sale. I usually work until nightfall, and I don’t sleep on time.”

My husband is always worried because I barely have enough time to sleep

“Another major challenge that I’m experiencing is the lack of access to soft loan. I need funds to expand my business. My dream is to rent a big shop in one of the bustling areas of Lagos. The place will be beautifully furnished to attract customers. I also want it to be a place where customers can relax and enjoy their snacks and drinks.

“Although my business has been flourishing, I don’t have enough savings because I spend my profits on household needs. As a mother, I hate to see my children hungry or sent out of school. So, whenever my husband doesn’t have money, I volunteer mine.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), worldwide, women’s access to finance is disproportionately low. Sometimes, though, the problem has to do with the women entrepreneurs. “In the credit market, women entrepreneurs fail even to apply for loans because of such factors as low financial literacy, risk aversion, and fear of failure,” IMF says.

Daily struggles

Oluwabunmi says, “I have sacrificed greatly for my family, and I believe that one day, I will reap the rewards.

“Before now, I used to teach other people how to prepare snacks and cakes. I have trained more than 10 women before I stopped. Why did I stop? I noticed that most young girls nowadays don’t want to dedicate their time to acquiring a skill. Instead, they keep looking for shortcuts to success.

“Moreover, some of them have rude attitude and are not ready to submit to their bosses. That’s why I stopped accepting apprentices.”

Family
Mrs Oluwabunmi Olatunji said her children assist her in running the business. Although her husband supports her, he is always worried because she barely has enough time to sleep.

Final word
When Iya Magazine asked her to leave a word of advice for women, she said:
“Every woman should work and contribute to the family. Even if your husband is wealthy, you still need to earn your own money so that when that man is out of your life, you can still fend for yourself and your children.

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Also, it is very risky to depend on a single stream of income. Even if you have a white-collar job, you can run a side business. I understand that being a mother and a provider isn’t easy.

Some outsiders might abuse you or call your husband a weakling. Don’t listen to them, especially if you are sure that the man is trying his best. What really matters is that your children are grateful for everything you do for them, and they consider you a super mum.”

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