Celebrating Women in Gender Stereotype Roles (Ekemena Oluwatobi, the Gadget Entrepreneur)
Hi, I am Ekemena Oluwatobi Emelereta
I am an ENTREPRENEUR
I play in a Gender-Stereotyped Space
How safe do you feel in this male-dominated space?
Safe enough to be aware of the various opportunities around me and explore them.
What was the ultimate drive towards this profession and what has been the motivation all along?
I love helping people. If there’s a problem and I have the capacity to be of help or service, I am 100percent right there providing a solution. The drive towards my profession was borne out of that personality trait. A desire to help people, a desire to serve and create a safe space where the customers’ interests, needs and satisfaction are the topmost priorities.
I saw a problem that wasn’t going away, customers facing challenges or going through stress trying to purchase a gadget. Nobody was exactly solving the problem. They were just walking around it. I took it upon myself to find a solution and say enough is enough. Taking that first step wasn’t easy but I have begun the journey and I am not looking back.
What were your loved ones stand on this chosen profession of yours?
Well, I first had to be sure God was in support of my decision because even I feared the decision I was about to make. For one I didn’t have any source of funding, nothing but the experience and network I had acquired. Then I spoke to my family and friends about it. They were very supportive; they were my first set of customers.
But nobody was sure how far I would go with it. I didn’t know if I was capable of going the long haul with the decision to become an Entrepreneur. I just walked in faith trusting God for strength and grace. I believe to this day, it’s the path I was led to take, and I have never regretted the decision.
What are the main challenges you have faced as a woman in this profession?
Being a woman in this profession is not easy because you’re working in an environment that is saturated with men. As a lady, you’re either a salesgirl or the wife of the business owner. There are only a handful of us women who directly own businesses in this environment. The business itself requires someone who is physically strong, smart, knowledgeable and confident because there are people who would want to take advantage of you, there are people who doubt your capabilities and others who don’t even trust you at all.
So, you mostly have to prove yourself in other to earn their trust and respect.
What are the benefits you gain as a woman in this profession?
Being a lady in this profession isn’t common. The good thing is the feedback from many customers on how they are more comfortable trusting women to be more empathetic towards ensuring their gadget needs satisfied.
Was there any point you almost gave up?
Yes, several times.
If yes, what kept you going?
In the earliest phase of my business I thought of quitting every single day. It was draining, I was so passionate about ensuring my customers got the best and were satisfied with their purchase that I didn’t know how to balance my work and personal time. It was like I carried the entire burden of the customers. So, most times I was burnt out.
What kept me going? This is the path I had chosen to walk on. I loved what I was doing, it gave me joy and fulfillment. I would say, the joy and satisfaction on the faces of my customers, the support of my loved ones, colleagues and mentors (my tribe) and of course grace and strength of God I always prayed for daily.
I must say that your choice of business is unique, why did you specialize in sales of gadgets?
I had always known I would become an Entrepreneur, I just didn’t know it would be in my 20’s and in the Tech space. I planned on building a career in Accounting, then mid 40’s establishing a business. Alas, that wasn’t God’s plan for my life.
You could say I was more or less led to be where I was at that particular time of my life. Although I didn’t see it that way at the time. I found myself in computer village working as an accountant for a gadget company, an environment I never even dreamt of working in and within a short time was exposed to a world of opportunities and knowledge. It gave me so much joy and satisfaction. But I was also exposed to the problems inherent in the environment as well. I had to make a choice to put my all in or not. I seriously prayed about it and once I got the conviction to go all in, I never looked back. God has indeed shown me that he has been beside me every step of the way.
What are the top three things women aspiring to come into this space need to know before starting?
Your dreams are just as big as your drive or motivation towards achieving them. The bigger the drive, the bigger the dream.
You don’t have all the answers. So, you can’t do everything on your own. Be open to suggestions, feedback that can help you grow positively.
Your network is your biggest asset. There’s no such thing as a bad network. Every person in your life has a role to play in your life at one time or the other. Know when to use it to your advantage.
Could give us some sneak peep into your personal daily rules in your profession?
Pray about anything and everything. God answers prayers.
Building relationships and maintaining them is very important
Focus on My goal which is to build an impact-driven, sustainable business and so focus daily on the impact of my choices, how I train my staff and ensure a certain level of standards in my business to ensure customer satisfaction.
Who is your role model?
I have quite a few. The thing is, at different stages of my life, I have had different role models.
My Mom: who is a very strong woman, able to manage her business and family. Never giving up on what she loves no matter the difficulties she encounters or faces.
My Dad: From him I have learnt what it means to be independent, having a savings culture and making wise investment decisions. To prepare for tomorrow while thinking of today
Mr. Azuka Anyabuine: He is one of the people who inspired and encouraged me to start my business. I learnt a lot working under him. He taught me what it means to be selfless and the value of relationships.
Do you wish other women take up roles as yours? Why?
Yes, because mostly what you see are women entering into gender defined spaces. For example, if you are a woman, you are either a fashion designer, a hairstylist, or a makeup artist. These are great industries but we as women shouldn’t limit ourselves to just these industries. There are so many other industries that we can explore and be successful in.
We shouldn’t let anyone tell us, because we are women we can’t do it. We can and we should because we are capable, we are strong, and we can do anything we set our minds to.
What do you have to say to other women?
Keep pushing boundaries, keep breaking barriers and stereotypical boxes.
Trust in yourself and your capabilities. Do not see being a woman as a disadvantage in any environment you find yourself, instead leverage on it.
What are your social media handles?
personal ig @_thegadgetlady