We present our interview with Ms Jane Iloanya, CEO UrbanDeals Nigeria Limited and co-founder LinkUp NG.
Chance Media: Can you introduce yourself?
Ms Iloanya: My name is Jane ILoanya. I have a degree in International Relations from the University of Northern Cyprus. I am the CEO UrbanDeals Nigeria Limited and a co founder of LinkUp NG.
Chance Media: Tell us about your company.
Ms Iloanya: UrbanDeals Nigeria limited is a N5,000.00 or less shop. We sell Nigerian clothes from Nigerian designers for 5,000 or less. The idea is to provide quality clothes to people at an affordable price. We sell the kind of quality clothes you find in malls anywhere in the world .With us you can look good without spending all your earnings on clothes.We are an online platform for fashion designers to showcase their items.
Chance Media: What challenges have you faced as female entrepreneur in Nigeria.
Ms Iloanya: It is not easy to be a major player as a woman, considering the fact that you\’ll work with male partners, employ male staff. It is always hard for me to find that common ground where I won\’t have to command them but still get them to do what needs to be done to push the project forward.
Chance Media: How were you able to get finance for your business?
Ms Iloanya: Every start up business needs investors. I sourced investors that will be interested in my kind of business. I pitched the idea to some of them. Only one was interested enough to trust my business idea and invest for just one year. I took over after that.
Chance Media: What would be your advise to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Ms Iloanya: Do not take on a project you are not familiar with. Do not do it because other people are doing it. Start by finding the immediate needs in your community, fill the need, find a way to monetize it, start small and grow your idea. Everything is wrong with starting big with your first project, if you don\’t have the right team, the experience, you will go from big to small and it\’s harder to grow back a fallen idea than to slowly nurture a fresh one. So start small, gather experience, fail, rise again till you are ready to head a team then you can start big.
Chance Media: Who is your mentor?
Ms Iloanya: My mentor is a great friend of mine, (whose name I won\’t mention). Since early 2008 when I met him, I started learning everything I know today. Most importantly I learnt how to push myself to be better by the day.
Chance Media: What motivates you?
Ms Iloanya: The passion to succeed. The drive to make my late mother proud wherever she is. The drive to prove to other young girls that you can be an orphan and still fulfill a need in the community. To live by example and show them that being an orphan does not limit your capabilities.
Chance Media: What are your favourite quotes?
Ms Iloanya: “Education is the passport to the future, for the tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. – Malcom X
“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace”. – Malcom X
“I am for truth, no matter who tells it. I am for justice, no matter who is for or against”. – Malcom X
Chance Media: What are the challenges entrepreneurs face in Nigeria?
Ms Iloanya: Consistency – most people started something and because they want to join the trend, they will integrate something else (out of the box) and loose focus from there. The country’s economy is not helping as well, as many will want to switch to what will give them instant cash rather than what can be sustained.
Chance Media: What are your goals for UrbandealsNg?
: By God’s grace Urbandealsng is now a household name as it is the mother of: Urban cuts(salon), Urban cleaning(cleaning service), Urban ushers(ushering service), Lynkup Ng(social network app), PersonXCreatives(ready to wear clothes), all of them are work in progress and will keep growing till it becomes UrbanDealsNg Solution.
Chance Media: How long have you been in business?
Ms Iloanya: Well, I\’ve been a business woman since 2014.
Chance Media: How many people has your business created employment for?
Ms Iloanya: As far as UrbanDealsNG is concerned, we have created jobs for about 15-20 people short term and long term.
Chance Media: What activities form part of your typical day?
Ms Iloanya: My laptop is the last thing I drop before going to bed. I drop it on the side table by the side of my bed, which will make it the first thing I pick up immediately I wake up. So my typical day is wake up, turn up my laptop, say my prayers (even though sometimes when I have morning rush I forget to kneel and pray, so I pray on the go) get some morning chores done. (I am not a breakfast person), then jump back online, open Urbandealsng backend to check orders before I start working on other things. Sometimes I write/gather articles for my blog. That\’s basically my daily routine and it\’s fun for me to be online.