‘Women are great managers’

Mrs. Chidinma Toyin Abraham is the Chief Executive Officer of CAPRICHI Champions Limited, a garment production company, producing uniforms for schools and companies. CAPRICHI Champions Limited is a company Mrs. Abraham took over from her mother and has been managing for more that ten years with dedication and today is ranked one of the fastest growing garment and uniform making factories in Nigeria. In this interview with PATIENCE OGBOMrs. Abraham talks about women empowerment, the importance of teaching women to become employers and the need for women to believe in themselves as she added that women are good bosses that can manage people and resources to enviable heights contrary to popular perceptions.

You took over your mother’s petty tailoring business and turned it around to one of the biggest garment industry in Nigeria, how can you describe the role mothers played in their children’s lives and business?
Mother should be the pillar of thier children’s lives after God. The role of a mother cannot be overemphasized. The mother determines how far a child goes in life. Apart from educating your child and teaching them to carry out domestic chores, I feel a mother should teach and expose their children to entrepreneurship skills. Children need to know how to earn a living aside white collar job . Introduce your child to God first ,equip them educationally and teach your children to fish. This is a big privilege . My mother exposed me to real life. Right from when I was in secondary school, I did not have time to play like my mates. My mother taught me the rigour of being an entrepreneur.I am happy that she taught me how to fish. When my mother started sewing she did not have a factory but today we have one and I intend to pass the knowledge to my children.

Some men get intimidated when they see that women earn more than them. This has prevented women from aspiring to greater heights what is your take on this?
No matter how much a woman earns or the position she is, she should learn submission. Submission is not easy but with God and prayers, women can submit to thier husbands. Men should not be intimidated nor have inferiority complex.
No man wants a lazy woman so it is in the best interest of the family for the couple to assist one another to succeed. Women should not be discouraged or stay limited in life because thier husbands will be intimidated by thier success. That is why it is very important to pray for a godly man. Woman should have confidence and not allow male predators in thier lives. They should look out for men who want to come rip them off. There are so many of such men out there today who are looking for women that have made it so they can come and feed fat on them.

Many women feel there are limited opportunities for them out there to earn a decent living?
It is all in the mind. Whatever we become or we don’t become is a product of our minds. I don’t believe women are limited. It is honourable to work than to beg or go into prostitution. Selling your body for as low as N2000 is not the best. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It is only God that can give us that idea that when we work hard at it we will succeed.

Why your interest in sewing and uniform making in particular?
I grew up sewing because my mother is a seamstress. I did not learn it in school. My mother started the business and I learnt it from her. While I was in school, I will run
back home to assist in sewing. That was when I developed passion for making clothes especially school uniforms .I love seeing the children putting on uniforms we made for them.It makes me happy. My passion for sewing was so much that after I graduated from the university of Lagos where I studied Philosophy, I knew I will not look for a paid job. I took over my mother’s business and together with my siblings we have built the business to a high that we are proud of.

Are you saying that people should not look for paid jobs or be educated? 
Education is basically application of knowledge. I was in secondaryschool when I knew that I will not go looking for a paid job because I already acquired a skill and my education helps me to do my job better. Education helps broaden your mind. Education refines you. Sewing should not be seen as a vocational skills for drop outs or people who cannot acquire education. Obviously,there is a difference between someone that went to school and one that did not attend school. Education makes your mind to be reformed and refined.

What are the challenges you face in running the business?
There was money issue to expand the business . We sew clothes for schools. Cardigans , track suits, customised socks and we make them in bulk. The business is capital intensive, electricity supply is an issue as all the machines we use are powered by electricity. We have to relyon generator due to irregular power
supply and buying diesel is costly.

What is your advice to women in achieving their goals in life?
Women should kill laziness. Women should do away with the mentalitythat they can only eat when a man gives to them. Women should aspire to own businesses and be givers.
Women should become relevant in assisting their families and communities and women should fend for themselves. Every woman has the gift of intuition to be creative. Women must make themselves relevant in assisting our children and families. Women should aspire to become employers. It  is true that you see women doing petty businesses but they should take the business beyond themselves and their need.

What should women do to expand their businesses and earn more money?
There is nothing wrong in seeking for help. In my case, I saw the need to seek help. I asked for credit facility. I asked that they trust me with materials and I will work then return thier money to them. When they trusted me I made sure I returned the money. Then they gave me more goods and like that I got to a point I am now a producer of the materials. I sold other products too to earn money for my business. That way I had more than one source of income. I was hard working and determined to be an employer. I was also committed to taking the business beyond our family and today I am glad we have a garment making factory employing people. God will bless the works of your hands when you pray and puts your heart in doing anything.