The story of Miss Adaora Joy Egbara of Amaozalla village, Ihe/Owerre Nsukka, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State could be likened to that of former Director-General of National Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the late Prof. Dora Akunyili. The story has it that after she lost a close relative to fake and adulterated drugs, she threw all her weight to fight the monstrous evil head on and this eventually earned her the Directorship of NAFDAC.
In the case of Joy Adaora Egbara a graduate of University of Nigeria, she is said to have unwittingly bought adulterated honey from a close friend to whom she had been referring people. As a wholesaler of the product, she didn’t feel happy at all. In fact she was hugely disappointed by the incident.
However, instead of confronting the seller,thet incident changed her mindset and subsequently life. Though the incident happened when she was a student of Sociology at UNN, she never had any premonition that that would be the beginning of her entrepreneurship.
WITHIN NIGERIA reporter caught up with her in her bee farm at Ede-Oballa, Nsukka, Enugu State, where she is quietly and professionally harvesting her honey and the proceeds from the product.
The genesis of my bee keeping
Initially, I didn’t have any knowledge of bee-keeping. Also, I did not know anything about honey. In fact, some of my friends are into honey sales. However, in 2017, a friend of mine asked me if she could get original honey and I answered in the affirmative. I referred her to a honey seller who sold some to her. From there, I started supplying some honey to some sellers. But unfortunately, the honey turned out to be fake and adulterated. I was infuriated and disappointed. I lost all my trust in that honey seller friend. However, that dishonest attitude changed my life for better. So, I after the disappointing incident, I asked myself can’t you produce this honey? Are these honey sellers and suppliers more intelligent than you? With this in mind, I went into bee keeping in small scale.
If I tell you that I started this business three years ago with N3,000, you will not believe it. Today, this bee- keeping business has grown so much that I make like N100,000 on one bee hive. I remember also that the last bee hives I bought cost me N100,000. Today, I have invested more than two million in the business, yet I still need more money.
Can you take white collar job?
When I started school at the UNN, I had the mindset that after graduation, I would use my certificate and knowledge to get a white collar job and settle down. But today, that mindset has changed. I don’t think I can look for a white collar job again. Let me say that I cannot take a white collar job that will take me away from bee-keeping. I started with one bee hive but today, I have up to five hundred bee hives. Each bee hive matures in a period of six months. Each beehive costs at least N30,000 coupled with some equipment. Each bee hive will give me 20 litres of honey.
I have been able to train up to five persons in this business and I am still counting. Many people come to me to train them which by God”s grace we will start by God’s grace I have trained more twenty persons. I have five persons under my employment. So, for this reason I told myself I am not going look for white collar job again. Rather, I will be looking for more fund to continue to expand the business.
Reasons young graduates run away from entrepreneurship
One of the reasons young graduates do not have interest in entrepreneurship is because of the challenges in the business. I take myself as an example. I have even sold bread in the streets to generate fund to drive my bee-farming. But, of course, you know many people cannot do such a thing. Again, the financial aspect of the business is very challenging. Many have the idea and the zeal but they don’t have the fund to start up the business. Also, not left out is the desire to make it fast. Many of them don’t know that business takes time to grow. Patience and perseverance is the key word. Apart from bee keeping and honey production, I also produce organic soap and cream. Market is no longer my problem but the finance to drive the business.
How government can help grow business
It is very unfortunate that many of our entrepreneurs don’t have access to government grants. Some of them need just about N1-2m to take their business to the next level. For instance, I have applied for many government grants all to no avail. But, I know that if I am given N20m, I could use it to expand my business and employ like 20 more persons. This will in turn reduce the number of unemployed persons in the state and this will have multiplier effects on the economy.
My advice to youths and government
Our youths should strive to be enterprising. Don’t wait for an elusive white collar job. Start up something no matter how small. Before you know it, you are already self-reliant. Don’t think there is nothing you can do. God gave everybody potentials and talents. It is your ability to discover your own and use it very well that will help you.
Government at various levels should support youths in entrepreneurial skills so as to reduce the rate of unemployment. Everybody knows the importance of honey. Honey is used for pharmaceutical production. The difference between my own method of bee-keeping and that of local ones is that I don’t kill bees. It is not good to kill bees with fire like our local honey harvesters do. Again, my own honey is used by pharmaceutical companies because of its purity while they cannot use that of locally produced ones because they are not pure.
I have a lot of customers scattered all over Enugu, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja and what have you. What I don’t have is the capital to drive the business on a larger scale. In the next 10 years, I will see the business being taken to a higher level in that by then, I will have procured so many bee hives, shops and offices. I will have employed more than 50 persons.