In this month edition of mumpreneur feature we present to you the inspiring interview we had with Eno Martins Bakare, the CEO of Girls-On-Wheels Nigeria a female centric company that provides female chauffeurs, DriverPAs (Personal Assistants+Drivers) and DriverEAs (Executive Assistant+Drivers). Her company also run an all-female mobile carwash. Our core clients are busy females- Entrepreneurs and Executives, and to men who prefer female drivers for their wives and children. Also, we provide our services to organisations as well.
1. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THIS BUSINESS?
FROM HAVING AN IDEA TO STARTING YOUR BUSINESS, SHARE YOUR JOURNEY WITH US?
Eno Martins Bakare:
My childhood played a key role to the birth of Girls-On-Wheels. My earliest memories were of being molested at age 6 by someone trusted by my family. The heartbreaking part was it took 30 years for me to reveal the traumatic experience to my Mum who broke down because she was pained to think about her 6 year old child dealing with a paedophile all alone and not able to talk because he promised to kill my parents if I did.
I also grew up seeing my Mum work ever so hard to support her family through different stages of life when my soldier father was home or away. She sold Hides and Skin, Soup condiments, Bean balls (Akara), Buns and Puff-Puffs, Gin, Hollandaise Wrappers, Run a canteen etc
Girls-On-Wheels an All-female Mobile Carwash and Female Driver service targeted at Women, children and the elderly, started when I was able to connect the dots that there were children 6 years and above or below whose parents have to work and leave them with sometimes wolves in sheep’s clothing as caregivers and support system. Also I’ve always been a tomboy and love driving so the conventional businesses that should appeal to a lot of women never appealed to me. And I know and have met many women who have a passion for driving. Married, single, separated, name it. What connects these women is their love for driving and not wanting to be confined by culture and traditions regatding what they can do and not do. So combining my love for driving and taking on challenges and my belief that women can do whatever we set our minds to achieve, fanned my convictions that bringing this solution to city parents was what I was born to do.
So when I got the conviction, I put all my plans in paper and started mapping a delivery strategy. I also involved my inner caucus to help streamline my thoughts and ideas.
2. GREAT IDEAS DON’T ALWAYS MEAN GREAT SALES, HOW HAS IT BEEN MARKETING YOUR SERVICES?
Eno Martins Bakare: it’s been good. Yet, there is still more to explore. I basically use cost effective marketing strategies. I also use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc to reach my target audience.
3. WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BUSINESSES YOU COULD HAVE EXPLORED, WHY THIS BUSINESS?
Eno Martins Bakare: Girls-On-Wheels is my purpose and my life’s assignment. I love what I do because It gives me the rare privilege to create opportunities for women, protect children from abuse and avails me the opportunity to support families and businesses all at once. Above all it helps me show the world that women are limitless. That whatever we purpose to do, we can.
4. DID YOU DISCOVER NEW THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE COURSE OF STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
Eno Martins Bakare: Yes, I did. I discovered that I had a baseless fear that held me back for over 7 years from achieving this dream. The instance I decided to chase after my dreams, the impossibilities I once thought existed vanished right before me. I also enjoyed tremendous support because my vision was a novel one. I realized that whatever you set your mind to achieve is 100% possible.
HOW DID YOU RAISE THE CAPITAL TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
Eno Martins Bakare: I funded the business from my finances leveraging on cost effective strategies for awareness creation and running cost. I would bargain and seek to get a free service delivery wherever I could get it.
WHEN YOU STARTED THIS BUSINESS, DID YOU ENJOY SUPPORT FROM OTHER FEMALES?
Eno Martins Bakare: Yes, I did enjoy support from other females and still do. I have an intentional sisterhood and we support each other. Above that, most of my initial clients were women who requested our mobile carwash services and now Chauffeurs and DriverPAs.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO TRANSLATE FROM PAID EMPLOYMENT TO STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Eno Martins Bakare: It was easier because I finally found my purpose. My life’s experiences finally made sense to me. I started by pulling my pressure washer to go wash people’s cars and not ashamed to post it on social media. I know my former subordinates and other colleagues were uncomfortable seeing me do something a lot of people see as “menial”. But I was on a journey to Purpose. I always had this genderless disposition to whatever I set my mind to do. So having to do various aspects of the business on your own because you can’t afford people on salary helps you to be creative. I also collaborated with other businesses to help with training, marketing. Entrepreneurs need to look at collaboration. And with God, when you ask for help, you get help.,
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF HAVING A MENTOR IN BUSINESS SUCCESS STORIES?
Eno Martins Bakare: Mentors are crucial in the role they play in business success stories. A mentor would support your dream and vision by empowering you with requisite tools, knowledge etc necessary for success. Also, a mentor will ensure you are committed, diligent and accountable to your goals and dreams. They are always there to cheer you on.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED AS A BUSINESS WOMAN AND MOTHER?
Eno Martins Bakare: As regards business, I would say it’s mostly centered on perceptions.
First major one is correcting the false notion that women are bad drivers when in reality, backed up by research, women are more safety conscious drivers due to them being born natural nurturers.
Also, people think what we do is for uneducated women who don’t have a choice when the fact is that 95% of our Chauffeurs and DriverPAs are graduates in very diverse files, i.e. Law, Quantity Survey, Computer and Information Technology, biochemistry etc. They are unstoppable, driven women who are simply looking for an opportunity to excel.
We have to consistently create and increase awareness about the unique opportunity we are creating for women in the Auto space. Both prospective Drivers and DriverPAs and potential clients must be aware.
And as a mother, balancing work-life paradigm is a continuous process. We thank God for his strength each day.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR WOMEN TO START BUSINESS IN NIGERIA?
Eno Martins Bakare: I think the skills needed for women to start business in Nigeria are; financial management skills, marketing and sales skills, customer service and engagement skill, communication and negotiation skills, leadership skills, project management and delegation skills, as well as, digital marketing and networking skills. A lot right? These things need to keep improving.
HOW PROFITABLE IS RUNNING YOUR KIND OF BUSINESS?
Eno Martins Bakare: Profit for us is way beyond finances. The purpose behind the vision is what is really gratifying. Creating opportunities for women, protecting children and supporting families makes it worth it. Again, because this business is a new territory we have ventured into, we are growing at a steady pace. We are not yet where we are headed, but definitely not where we were. For this we are grateful.
DO YOU THINK BEING A MUM CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS IN BUSINESS?
Eno Martins Bakare: Yes, I believe so. I have a teenage son, three daughters and and a nephew with me and I want them to see me chase my dreams unapologetically so when they grow up and my daughters become women, wives, mothers they can and will still dare to dream. So, this drives me to be more and do more for myself and them.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE FAMILY WITH RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Eno Martins Bakare: I try to achieve the work-life balance paradigm. I do this by ensuring that no aspect of my life, dreams, family, children, business suffers. It’s a continuous balancing act. Also, I have a good support system that effectively helps me achieve the balanced life I desire. We as women and working Mums really need our tribe.
ANY ADVICE OR TIPS FOR ASPIRING MUMPRENEURS?
Eno Martins Bakare: find your truth, go for it. Don’t let anything stop you once you are convinced it is for you!
Here is our website www.girlsonwheels-ng.com and instagram handle is @girlsonwheelsnigeria