Hair Stylist, Sally Ezeamaka on The Creative Enterprise Programme

Starting your business is like planting a tree. First, you have to invest your time and money. However, like a tree, many startups fail to grow — and many die one-to-three years after launch. While there are many factors leading to the failure of a startup, one of the main reasons is the lack of expert startup advice founders receive.

As part of the just concluded Assembly Creative Class Program, the British Council opened its doors to a selected few from the Creative Class for the well sought after Creative Enterprise Programme. It is designed to support entrepreneurs who are already in the process of setting up their own creative enterprise. The workshop content and activities are relevant to people whose businesses are up-and-running and those who are in the very early stages.

Among the selected few was Ezeamaka Sally Chifum, who shared her experience with us:

“ My name is Ezeamaka Sally Chifum, I am a hairstylist and I run a mobile hair salon in Lagos State, Nigeria with the goal of becoming an International mobile Hair Brand. As a creative entrepreneur, with a rich pool of ideas, I have always had challenges with proper business structuring, which I had communicated with a friend, James. James practically filled the online form for the Creative Enterprise Programme, I provided the answers to him via WhatsApp and there was this excitement that sprung up within, the moment I set my eyes on the words “Creative” and “Enterprise”.

Boom! Day 1 with Mr. Ifeanyi Enukorah was one of a kind. I came in telling the class my purpose for attendance which was to correct my mistakes, to learn which I did and finally network with my colleagues. I recall Mr Ifeanyi asking me if I was a sinner as regards correcting my mistakes and this spurred laughter in the room. I also remember Annie saying ‘Decorum’ whenever the class seemed noisy and then I knew I was in some more serious class. I had my business mapped out on the wall of fame(workstation) as I believed it to be but trust me the task given on regular basis made a shift in my thought process, it triggered new thoughts and made me do things I never believed I could, even in team work.

Mr Ifeanyi had said that Mr Wale Ajiboye would be facilitating us the next day and in my head I was like why the change. Maybe the other Facilitator might not be able to break things down like he did.

Hmmm, On the 2nd day I had a flash back to the ‘mood’ graph that Mr Ifeanyi had shown us with smiley illustrations which implied that we would be so excited on the first day, be in wonder or have a mood swing. On the second day and on the third day happier, truly it happened that wasn’t jazz. Yes, I had the mood swing but then I began to pick my pieces after the task drill by Mr Wale and thank God for some cool off moments with our regular Mr Ekpa, Wilson Juice and the delicious food that were well packed with candy. Behold, Mr Wale pulled up some really good strings of business idea and proved me wrong, I was amazed really.

The 3rd day was quite emotional for me, as we were going to be separated from the entrepreneurs in NXT class afterwards. I felt I would have the opportunity to learn more from some of my colleagues, Ronke, Tara, Dami and a few others who I had got attached with that happened to be in NXT class. Although, I still had a few colleagues I was interested in learning from in ENTR the likes of Chioma, Lilian, Edith and more . The class on the final day of the CEP was super cool, we wrapped up with our pitches. Pitching that day was actually my first time but I was so proud of myself that I can now select my choice of words introducing myself and sell my business right to my audience, Deji and Rhoda kept preaching it wasn’t a biggie and that we should calm our nerves. My colleague Tara accessed my work as we were all asked to access to commend or criticize each persons work by our right hand side.

Finally Mrs Pepper Chikezie, the founder of the Assembly encouraged us in her lovely warm voice , to do better out here and utilize all of what we’ve learnt to be more successful and I could see through her, a passion to build a better society. I hope she gets awarded for it Nationwide/Worldwide soon. Indeed it was moments to behold and I’m forever grateful. Thanks to everyone one who made this a successful one for me.”

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Words by Sally Ezeamaka

Images by Olumide Onafuwa