If you think agriculture is only for old people, it’s not.
If you believe fish farming is only for the rich, it’s not.
If you think women cannot be successful entrepreneurs, they can.
I would like you to meet Miss Chioma Ifeajekwu, our Featured Entrepreneur who is out to change your perception about women in agriculture, especially fish farming.
I spoke to her because I’ve always been fascinated by people who challenge the status quo, people who take their own matters into their hands. I hope seeing her work and hearing what she has to say will motivate you into taking your own financial matters into your hands too.
If you think you cannot become an entrepreneur in this harsh economic climate, you can. Go ahead and start something for yourself. But first, meet and help me appreciate Chioma… Have you seen a more attractive farmer, though?
My name is Ifeajekwu Chioma . I am a graduate of Caleb University where I studied Business Administration. I hail from Abatete, Idemili North LGA Anambra State. I’m single and I love cooking, meeting people and travelling.
I started fish farming last year (2016) because I love nature and I needed a channel to be self-employed and financially independent. My big mummy has always been into catfish farming; I later met a friend in school who used catfish farming as a source of income to pay his fees through school. All these motivated me to start my own farm and I’m happy I did.
What was it like, going into business this the first time?
It was stressful but yet a good way to learn. I did some research work and went on some field trips to already existing fish farms to learn everything I could before I started my own.
Tell us a little about catfish farming
Catfish farming is an intriguing and interesting type of farming. We have different types of fish farm namely: earthen pond, concrete pond, tarpaulin/synthetic leather pond, fiberglass tanks, and cage tanks.
Catfish farming is very lucrative but quite capital intensive. You definitely need to have passion and willingness to surmount whatever challenges might arise in your quest to have your own fish farm.
What were the challenges you faced and how did you surmount them?
As a new farm, I had the challenge of the actual type of pond I wanted to use. The location of the farm was far from where I live and, of course, capital was a challenge too.
There was also the challenge of unavailability of fish feed in the market which leads to the fish eating themselves sometimes.
As a young woman with hardly any farming experience in a male-dominated fish farming environment, it was challenging to set up one myself. I can credit my success to my education and upbringing which helped instill a strong sense of self-belief and a “never give up” spirit in me and most importantly to God almighty.
From my research and field trips, I was able to learn and make a decision on the type of pond I wanted to have which is earthen pond because it’s perfect for large-scale production.
I later discovered a shorter route to the farm and sourced my capital from a friend who was willing to invest, in addition to my personal savings.
A wise man once told me that once there is a will, there will definitely be a way. As I said earlier you need to have passion and willingness to overcome the challenges that might come up.
How much have you grown from where you started?
I have learned a lot of things in catfish farming such as feeding, types of fish feed, the best way to feed them, sorting of fish, hatching and how to also get shooters as fingerings which are the best spice of catfish that grow really well.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I see myself fully established in agriculture, training and running seminars across universities in Nigeria to capture more young people who might be interested in farming, which is part of our root and one of the things we know how to do best.
Were there any government initiatives or grants you took advantage of?
How did you raise money to start this business?
I sourced the capital from a friend who was willing to invest. This was in addition to my own personal savings.
What habits drive you to succeed?
The love for nature, my passion and hunger to be the best, youngest catfish farmer in Nigeria and hopefully this singular act of mine will help motivate other girls to go into farming too.
Do you think our young people have done enough to live up to their full entrepreneurial potentials?
I really don’t think they have; most of us want the easy way out. I can recall when I started make-up as my first business then. Now a lot people are into it, but now when I tell my friends about the farm, they are always amazed and normally wonder if it is really mine or family business.
What is the role of women in national economic development?
Women are undoubtedly the foundation of the basic unit of society, the family. Even in traditional roles they demonstrate great innovation, skill, intelligence, hard work and commitment.
If we can harness these attributes effectively, global growth can be more inclusive and equitable. The education and empowerment of women is therefore key. When we educate and empower one woman, we set off a chain reaction which transforms the life of her family and the community.
Vocational training is equally important to women’s economic independence. The inspirational efforts of the Self-Employed Women’s Association, founded by women like Jumoke Adenowo, Unoma Okorafor and other successful self-help groups, have sowed the spirit of entrepreneurship in hundreds of women.
Which books influenced your life and business the most?
The Bible and Think Big by Dr. Ben Carson.
What advice do you have for young women in Nigeria?
There is dignity in labor, my fellow ladies…you can achieve whatever you wish if only you are willing to work.
Today, I am proud that I’m an equal-opportunity employer where women can thrive in every role, including hatching process, feeding, producing of feeds and distribution, fish marketing and sales.
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