I have had to privilege of participating in a session where Mrs. Eno Martins-Bakare shared her entrepreneurial journey and I will say she is a force to be reckoned with.
She is a doer and a visionary. Her company “girls-on-wheels” is shattering ceilings and empowering women and girls all across the country.
Please read below my interview with Eno Martins-Bakare.
My name is Eno Martins- Bakare. A wife, mother of 4 adorable children. I have almost 2 decades experience in Advertising and Branding, having worked in a number of Agencies in Nigeria and consulting in my own private capacity before Girls-On-Wheels.
What inspired you to create your business and how did you motivate yourself to keep going when things were difficult?
My childhood was full of life situations that brought me to this place of assignment. I was sexually molested at the tender age of 6. So, my story of surviving child sexual abuse All alone for 30years before telling my Mum got me to connect the dots that there were children like 6 year old me, whose parents have to work daily. Also I have always been a tomboy and love driving so the conventional businesses that should appeal to women never really appealed to me. And I know and have met many women who have a passion for driving. 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.
Hence, Girls-on-wheels started as a mobile car wash which took me 7 years to eventually birth because people didn’t believe it could work. I eventually took the bull by the horn and registered the business and later it grew into a female private driver service targeted at women, children and the elderly. While running the car wash came the inspiration for the female driver service through a male who believed I could run the service. But it was the children in such helpless situation that tugged my heart, having been a victim of child sexual abuse myself. Having done my research, I found out that there were a lot of passionate female drivers who were excited to be part of the vision to be empowered and support other women and their children with their driving and sometimes administrative skills.
When did you start your business?
Answer: I registered the business in December 2017 and started the All-female mobile car wash in 2018 which subsequently delved into female drivers for Women and Organisations.
How many hours a week do you work?
Answer: About 55 hours a week, juggling all my roles together, knowing that at this stage in our business every minute counts.
What book are you currently reading?
Answer: The Parable of Dollars by Sam Adeyemi
What has been your best business purchase?
Answer: So far it has been books and trainings. On this quest to create a business that has not been modelled before, we understand the import of our role as the pace-setter so we keep improving on ourselves to ensure we deliver on the expectations and exceed same.
What is your favourite business resources?
Answer: As I mentioned before, reading, training and networking. We go all out to ensure we are constantly connecting with other women on the move to the top.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Answer: I have 3 daughters and I want them to see me chase my dreams unapologetically so when they become women, wives, mothers they can and will still dare to dream. And ofcourse my Mum. She calls me AMBITIOUS. She has always believed in me. She is my number one Cheerleader.
Name your favourite business website?
Answer: I really love Entrepreneur.com. It is a great platform to learn. I also adore Herventure by the Cherie Blair Foundation team. Herventure is a great place for women to learn various aspects of structuring and scaling their businesses.
Comparing your business from when you started to now, what has been the main thing that allowed you expand your business ( how did you go from small time to big time success)?
Answer: I love a challenge. So, the challenge of building something out of nothing has propelled me and keeps propelling me. Also, the fact that I am creating opportunities for women where there were none prior to now is enough motivation for me to persevere. Furthermore, I have realized the power of collaboration with other women in similar or support industries and this has played a major role as well. In addition, I would not say we are in the big time yet. There is still so much to do, a lot of awareness creation expansion to come both within Nigeria and outside the country. We are still at it, we are still building the foundation. There is still so much greatness ahead of us in this sector and the world should just watch out because we are coming.
What is the most profitable aspect of your business, why do you think this and how can others apply this to what they are doing?
Answer: Our female driver initiative is fast gaining ground among our clientele because it is meeting a need of support to working women. My advice to other business owners will be that they package their business offerings from a fresh perspective. Of course this will require some element of creativity to achieve. This will create excitement among the target audience.
What is your typical work day like?
Answer: I wake up early, sorr pending aspectsbof my to-do from the previous day if any, sort those out , then face my to-do for the day. Given the stage of our business, once I get home and sort out family matters, I tend to work late into the night sometimes.
When did you realize you were successful/made it and how did you feel? Celebrate?
Answer: This is so very relative I must say. Can one really say they are successful? I rather look at success as a journey so we keep moving towards it. The very first time a major female blog called up to feature Girls-on-wheels Nigeria was a major high because after that interview came so many other back to back media mentions. So you can imagine when we got a call from an international news agency (Reuters if we can mention that) to do a major feature which included our partners, female drivers and clients. All in all, we are on a journey of impact. Whatever we achieve, there is always a greater height to attain. So we keep moving towards it (success).
Looking back, what could you have done sooner to have got to that point quicker?
Answer: I would have killed my fear because sometimes I imagine if I had started about 7 years before now. If I had started sooner God alone knows where we would have gotten by now. When you wake up is your morning and the important thing is waking up, that’s where it really starts from. We are on it. The important thing is starting and believing that you can do it. Surmounting the fear was a major hurdle, now we have gone beyond the fear of starting and have seen the reception and eagerness in people to collaborate, to promote the vision, we are convinced that we should have done this earlier.
What should other entrepreneurs reading this interview – be focusing on to expand their business?
Answer: Collaboration is very key and so far has played a pivotal role towards our growth. We believe in harnessing the expertise of other women in the Auto space and other support areas to deliver a more wholesome brand to our clientele. Especially, with training and referrals.
What do you consider the main differences between those people who have been successful in your industry and those who have failed?
Answer: It is Determination. Every woman who is striving and doing great things in an unconventional space, spaces where women are not supposed to be playing, has been successful based on determination. That is, the will and zeal to want to survive; to want to break grounds, to want to prove themselves in the industry. Also, a lot of hard work, the can’do mindset, and ofcourse the God factor and we are a company that attributes all our successes to this grace. So for me, it is the same thing, a determination to be limitless, to be unstoppable. This is our drive and is what is propelling us to the future.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Answer: It: is simple really… Start with what you have.
What is the most common rookie mistake when it comes to starting a business?
Answer: Having the false notion that you are not qualified. Some entrepreneurs when starting out make the mistake of taking on so much all at once and suffer a sense of overwhelm. And just get paralysed mentally.
What has been your biggest business mistake and what did you learn from it?
Answer: The greatest mistake I have made is conceding control of our online presence, that is; our website, to other people other than myself and this has cost me having to create our website 3 times over and over again. We have control of our website this time. This is something I would not advise anybody to have to go through. You need to have control of your website from the beginning. You need to own your online presence because it is your property; your resource, it is your office that the world gets to see and you cannot afford not having access control over it. So, what you need to have control over you should have control over as a business owner and as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs starting out?
Answer: Believe in yourself. You already have what you need to take off.
What do you do for leisure?
Answer: Watching a movie with a fellow Mumpreneur friend.
Learn more about Girls on wheels by visiting their website: www.girlsonwheels-ng.com