African women are shattering glass ceilings and contributing to economic growth across the continent and beyond. They are now placed side-by-side with male counterparts and have been said to be excellent multitaskers. But what happens when a woman decides to start a family? Does it mean that her career is over? Does it mean she has to choose between the two? How much time would she be able to devote to a child if she continues working hard? We interviewed Oby and she shared how she turned her passion into income, while being a mother of two!
Who is Obiageli Ohakim?
I’m a lawyer, currently working as an in-house counsel at a quasi-government agency in Abuja, Nigeria. I’m also the founder of ProjectBaby Nigeria and a blogger at www.playsuitsandlawsuits.com (a parenting/lifestyle blog).
What is Project Baby all about?
ProjectBaby is a dynamic baby concierge company currently focused on designing, creating and supplying innovative Early Learning Resources which encourage multi-sensorial learning through play, and hands – on experiences.
Based in Nigeria, we have built up a reputation with clients ranging from preschools to baby clubs, to play centers and homes.
What inspired you to launch this venture?
My 2 boys – J and CJ. Since becoming a mom, I’m always searching for, and creating learning opportunities for my children through play and use of age appropriate learning materials.
Unfortunately, there is an obvious challenge faced by parents and Early Years Practitioners in Africa – in procuring innovative, beneficial (and yet affordable) Learning Resources within the continent.
Essentially, ProjectBaby evolved out of the desire and need to make such resources easily accessible in Africa – while ensuring that young children have access to affordable early learning resources, of high quality.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to become a “mompreneur”?
Honestly, I didn’t really set out to be a “Mompreneur”. But I’ve always been very passionate about Early Learning and all things Early Years! With my mother being a proprietress of a Nursery and Primary school in Lagos (with 5 branches and 20 years’ experience in Child care), I grew up understanding the importance of engaging children in hands-on activities and integrating learning – through play!
So what started off as a lifestyle, organically grew into a business venture.
How do you manage to wear different hats as a mother, a lawyer and now an entrepreneur?
Schedules, To-Do-Lists and a fantastic village!
I’m very big on creating (and sticking to) my schedules and “To-Do” Lists. It’s the only way I stay sane. Working with a target gives me a sense of stability. I schedule my work, my business plans, my children’s activities, home meals, play time, dinner dates, meetings, family meet-up, functions, church activities – everything is usually listed out ahead of the week.
I am also grateful for my village – you know how they say “it takes a village to raise children” – it really does! My village is my amazing husband, my in-laws (especially my mother-in-law who is just a phone call away when we need her), my SUPER AWESOME sister, my very understanding boss and our family support staff (FSS). They all make it work!
How do you engage and create awareness about your brand to your target audience?
We engage customers via instagram, snapchat, and our website. We’ve managed to amass an extensive mailing list by which we send out newsletters, promo codes, sales updates, product reviews and so on, to our customers.
What would you say is the biggest challenge many Nigerian startups face?
Funding! Haha! We all need funding, but there aren’t enough private equity investors – in my opinion.
What is your long term vision for Project Baby?
Our vision is to lead in the provision of affordable and accessible Early Learning Resources throughout Africa.
What mantra do you live by that motivates you as an entrepreneur?
Results take time; it’s a reality I’ve accepted and aligned with in order to see my vision manifest. It’s easy to look at your effort and think you should be further ahead than you are right now, but if you really look closely, most “overnight successes” actually took a long time.
Can you offer any advice to moms like yourself who want to start a business while managing the home-front?
You must be ready to sacrifice time, effort, money, and other resources to invest in your business. It will be worth it, in the long-run. More importantly, remember to take it easy on yourself, it’s a marathon – not a sprint. Work hard but go at your own pace and enjoy the journey.