I have never felt ashamed of selling cow skin —Tolulope Ademola-Alli

Tolulope Alli, a graduate of English Education from Osun State University and founder of Hardukeh Enterprises, which deals in the sale of cow skin, popularly known as ‘Ponmo’ in this interview with Rukiyat Bakare, reveals why she ventured into selling cow skin and the journey so far. Excerpts:


You studied  English Education  in the university, what motivated your interest in the sale of cow skin?

Yes, I studied English Education and I can say categorically that what motivated my interest is the need to get a daily income, I needed a business that would cater for my needs after university education and to also keep myself idle.


How do you market your goods?

I market my goods both online (socialmedia) and offline, I have a business page on favouirite social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and whatsapp, all of them have generally help to promote my business.


How has work evolved since you began the business?

Well, the business has been challenging generally because it’s easy to say you want to go into selling cow skin but identifying that the ‘ponmo’ is truly from cow skin is quite tasking, for horse skin and donkey skin are promoted and sold as cow skin for those who cannot identify them in the market. Health wise, ‘ponmo’ from cow skin remains the best, and getting the neat ones makes it easier for the consumers to soak and wash before eating.


What was your startup capital?

My start up capital as at when I started was around  sixty thousand naira, although you can start with a capital not up to the above mentioned, it all depends on the person willing to venture into the business.


How did you raise fund for your cow skin business?

I was able to save up because I knew months before I started that I would be launching the business, and I took a bold step saving up so that I couldn’t get stranded midway.


When was your business established and how did  you come about it?

I officially started the business in December 2019 and how I went about it was easier because I took my time to know all that it takes to go into the business, got to know the different types of skin that are available in the market including healthy ones. I started by telling people around me of the business and gradually it started picking up.


Did you experience failures? If so, what did you learn from them?

Oh yes! I experienced failures, disappointment from the producers, not meeting up to the set target, and during the #EndSARS protest, we lost some of our goods to hoodlums but one of the things I learnt in this whole process is that in business, one should be able to plan ahead for productivity.


Was there a time you felt ashamed as a graduate for venturing into this business?

I have never felt ashamed of what brings food to my table. I have gone into different businesses right from my undergraduate days. It will interest you to know that I have sold zobo, bags and other petty items to earn a living; so selling is already part of me, it is what I have a deep passion for and giving up is not an option.


Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration is my mother. She took it upon herself to encourage me from the moment I told her about the business.


What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

The most satisfying moment in this ‘ponmo’ business is getting so many amazing feedbacks from my customers as many of them have become family, they refer other people to me and this has really grown my business far beyond my expectations.


How do you define success?

Success is very simple to me, I set up a goal, plan the steps required to achieve it, and then I implement that plan effectively. I attain success once I achieve my goals. Categorically, success to me means achieving a challenging goal.


Do you believe there are definite steps that lead to being  a successful entrepreneur?

Yes, there are definite steps; first is to challenge oneself. Others are to be able to take risk, reducing fear, planning one’s finances, and lastly listening to complaints from customers and being ready to work on them.


What advice do you have for unemployed youths?

My advice for unemployed youths is that while we hope that things will be better, sit down to know your passion because what you have passion for can  be a source of income, don’t underestimate  yourself and never give up on your dreams.


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