Feyisola Abiru, the CEO of Homes and You, is very passionate about her business and philanthropy.In this encounter with OLUREMI ADEOYE, it is revealed that her passion is in not only enhancing spaces to make the living experience things a bit more special but also helping the less privileged.
Feyisola Abiru is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University , Ile- Ife, and an alumni of the Lagos Business school as well as the IMD in Switzerland.
She has been equipped with the knowledge, discipline and thinking needed to make strategic decisions in not only her business environment but also as a philanthropist.
Abiru said it was when she was setting up her first home with her husband, Tokunbo Abiru, that she worked with a number of artisans that helped to bring her designs and ideas to life. Her ideas were obviously very tasteful, because shortly after, she began taking orders for interior decoration projects. This led her into deciding to turn her hobby in to a full-blown career. And soon afterwards Home and You was born.
Abiru got her firm incorporated in 1997, a living space enhancing company that provides furniture and furnishing services for homes, offices and schools.
According to Abiru, her firm manufactures all its furniture locally from a workshop in Lagos using the best materials sourced with diligence from local and offshore suppliers.
On the challenges she faced at the start-up of her company she said, “Home and You faced various challenges, particularly unpredictable output levels as the company had to rely on outsourcing production to local artisans. This led to project deliveries becoming sporadic and deadlines were difficult to meet.”
To overcome this and stay on in business, Abiru decided her company needed to approach things differently. The first step she took was to acquire more control over the production. To achieve this, she began using her family property in Ogba area of Lagos as her factory/ workshop. She modified the space by procuring hand tools, woodworking machines and employing contract staff.
“This enabled me to meet customer demands and deliver on projects in a more timely and cost effective manner. However, as is usual in the business terrain challenges arose, employing contract staff was a progress since it cut down on time spent finding the right labour for a job,” she explained.
Abiru continued: “I needed to restructure my company. This I did by putting all the necessary requirements in place. I needed to restructure my business by updating the company’s account, becoming tax compliant and setting up a proper corporate governance structure. I also invited someone to head the company’s board. Then I took a chance by hiring permanent workers in my factory. With all these was in place, Home and You’s application loan was granted after three years of requesting for it.
Having achieved so much as an entrepreneur, giving back to the society, which has always been a part of Feyisola Abiru, became even more obvious. As of today she is the chairperson of the International Women’s Society Acquisition Skill Institution: a skills acquisition center where recently, more than 70 students graduated after learning skills in catering and fashion designing.
When asked why she believes in skills acquisition she said, “skills acquisition for young people is crucial for many reasons. Engaging young people in productive activities and equipping them with the right tools, ensure that they are well placed to realise their dreams and fulfil their potentials. Beyond this, equipping young people with vital skills inadvertently bridges the skills gap and contributes to developing a much needed skill labour force in Nigeria. As an entrepreneur and an employer of labour, I have seen first-hand, how important vocational skills training is to success in the workplace.”
On how the institution is being run, she said, “IWS skills centre thrives on generous donations, we need donations to help us build our capacity to equip even more young people with vital skills.”
Abiru who is a Muslim believes so much in giving to the less privileged and feels bad when she is not in a position to do as much as she wants.
Happily married and a mother of three children, she believes that balancing the home front with a career is achievable if one is determined to do so.
She has proven that it is possible to start small, dream big and reach one’s career or professional aspirations only if one is determined to stay focused.
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