Strength, Stamina and Shoes: One Entrepreneur’s Story

In a showroom at a shopping mall in Lagos, Nigeria, 24-year-old Aishat runs her shoe business, Aeesha Collections. It first opened in the mall and online at the beginning of this year, but Aishat has been building her career since 2012 when she graduated from university. This past March, Aishat joined our celebration for International Women’s Day when she hosted employees from our partner Mastercard at her store. 

shoemaker nigeria mastercard employee

A Mastercard employee cuts out the leather as Aishat applies gum to the sole of the shoe.

As the CEO of Aeesha Collections, Aishat is part of an entrepreneurs’ network focused on continuing their education and uplifting each other to pursue their passion. Entrepreneurship is attractive to women on so many levels, as Aishat explained:

“Every woman wants to be on her own. No woman wants to be a liability and more so, it’s inspiring when you see a young woman like me doing well for herself in her business, you will feel like doing your own thing. Also, a salary job and getting a good pay is tasking in this country. You can’t have full possession of your time and be making good money while doing a salary job. Everyone, including women, wants their time to themselves.”

female entrepreneur speaking

Aishat speaks at a YTF training session for women entrepreneurs.

 

Taking a Step in the Right Direction

Aishat chose her profession as a shoemaker with determination. She explains the process she went through in exploring her options and what path her passions led her to in the end.

“Growing up, I wanted to become a banker, but I was no longer pleased with the profession,” said Aishat. “I had always wanted to learn a skill and make-up artistry was what I considered, but my cousin advised me to do something different. I had always loved shoes so I thought to myself what could be more satisfying than making them. So I made my decision to learn shoemaking and that was the start of my career.”

Aishat explains that she had only thought of shoemaking as hobby in her undergraduate career. The idea to start her business was originally “to while away time with learning a vocational skill,” but it turned into her full-time job.

shoemaker entrepreneur with mastercard employees

Mastercard employees assisting Aisha in applying gum to shoe soles at her workshop.


Technology Makes the Impossible, Possible

As many seasoned entrepreneurs can attest, not everything is sunshine and roses for a business owner. Aishat knows she will likely continue to face problems with the unequal manner society treats females in business, in addition to the many issues any business owner faces.

“Being in a male dominated industry has been really challenging, people look down on you thinking you can’t offer as much as a male would,” said Aishat. “Also, getting an investor, especially a male, never comes easy because they ask for some favor in return.”

Another major challenge is getting materials needed to make the shoes. Machines that produce quality leather soles aren’t available in Nigeria, so importing those materials adds to production costs. It’s in difficult situations like this where YTF’s technology training really makes a difference. 

learning 3d printing

Aishat learning the basics of 3D printing up close and personal.

 

About a year ago, Aishat learned about a possible solution to the lack of readily available materials for her shoemaking business when YTF and Mastercard paired up to teach women entrepreneurs about 3D printers. The entrepreneurial training sessions featured 3D printing technology and a heavy dose of inspiration, sharing the many possibilities afforded through the technology.

Aishat was thrilled. “This 3D printer will allow me to print shoe soles and customize my shoes,” she shared. “It is a phenomenal experience that I am grateful to have been a part of. I hope to get the machine to ease the stress of importation on my business.”

Aishat nigerian female entrepreneur

Aishat holding up the #BeingBold sign for International Women’s Day in front of her store at the Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall.

Aishat holding up the #BeingBold sign for International Women’s Day in front of her store at the Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall.

We love when women empower women. Aishat takes this call to heart, sharing a message to empower each women entrepreneur she encounters.

“I stand to celebrate every woman out there who is a trailblazer and is making waves in whatever you do. I am Aishat, and I am standing bold for change, ready to make a difference and standing in for the unheard voices of hard-working women in business.”

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