Starting up my Shoe Making Business was Terrible – Tobi Aiyenigba C.E.O Toubies Creations.

This week on Chat Fridays, we feature the Billionaire Shoe Maker Tobi Aiyenigba (the C.E.O Toubies Creations). We went in deep on his entrepreneurship journey.

Tobi Aiyenigba - Chat Fridays
Tobi Aiyenigba – Chat Fridays

Enjoy our discussion.

Awetech: So, some of us know you as Tobi Aiyenigba, we know you make shoes, that’s just about all we know about you…. Can you tell us more about your background, growing up and all?…

Tobi Aiyenigba: I’m the third of four children. Born in Funtua, Katsina state. A graduate of Animal Production and Biotechnology from Kogi State University and an ordained minister in RCCG

Awetech: that’s a wow!!! So, you’ve been in the north all your life

Tobi Aiyenigba: All my life… I’ve lived in Funtua, Kaduna state, Zaria, Kano and Nasarawa…until we moved to Lagos in 2013 and then to Ilorin Kwara State in 2015 which is my present location.

Awetech: awesome, was it your growing up in the north that inspired shoe making?

Tobi Aiyenigba: No

Awetech: So, what inspired it? And how did you start up?

Tobi Aiyenigba: After school, I saw that the competition out there for a job was real and heavy. I didn’t want to be a part of it. So, I thought of starting something with the skill I had then which was drawing of portraitures.

When I started to draw portraits, I realised people had need for shoes more than drawings, so I had to sharpen the little skill I had in shoemaking

Awetech: So, you had already learnt shoe making at one point?

Tobi Aiyenigba: I wouldn’t say I learnt. I had the idea in raw forms. I knew the materials, didn’t just know how to use it.

Awetech: Can we say you were self-taught?

Tobi Aiyenigba: Yes. You can say that. But I’ve watched a couple of You Tube videos though

Awetech: Awesome. Tell us about the journey so far

Tobi Aiyenigba: Starting was terrible… I’ve never had an idea of running a full-time business. My parents were scared for me. But with time, I started to find my feet

Friends started to recommend me to their friends and from there, we were able to increase our customer base.

Today we have our products even outside Nigeria

Awetech: Amazing, how did you raise funds?

Tobi Aiyenigba: I had a little savings. I approached my elder sisters for loan and they gave me. I then got an office space with the money. I’ve not paid them back though. Lol

Awetech: Lol, maybe you don’t even need to. So, you’ve just raised funds from friends and family

No investor yet?

Tobi Aiyenigba: From family alone. We have people showing interest but we’ve not put everything necessary for us to start accepting investors yet

Awetech: Can you tell us some of the things we’re talking about here

Tobi Aiyenigba: We want to have and stable flow of cash so we can give investors an accurate prediction of what to expect as return and how long it will take

Awetech: Great, then the Y-combinators of this world can come calling

Tobi Aiyenigba: You’re right sir. I’ll be gambling to just collect people’s monies and not give them what they hoped for

Awetech: Awesome. Asides from shoe making, what else do you do at Toubie’s creations

Tobi Aiyenigba: We make bags, handmade greeting card, and we also teach these crafts

Tobi Aiyenigba - Chat Fridays
Tobi Aiyenigba – Chat Fridays

Awetech: Awesome. Can you tell us for thoughts on entrepreneurship in Nigeria. Do you think in a few years’ time; our dear country can depend fully on entrepreneurship for economical sustainability……

Tobi Aiyenigba: Entrepreneurship in Nigeria is not for the faint hearted. You must be strong. There were months I made no sales. Those times I felt like submitting my CV to be employed… But then, I remembered that there are needs to be met. That keeps me going

Awetech: The pains of starting up is real

Tobi Aiyenigba: So real. But with persistence, the gains are real too. I am positive our dear country can depend fully on entrepreneurship for economical sustainability. We are gradually tilting towards that.

Government ad NGOs are already partnering with entrepreneurs to see ways by which the nation can move forward

Coupled with the numerous grants available for entrepreneurs these days, we will soon have a nation whose main driving force are the entrepreneurs

Awetech: On a final note, tell us the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your entrepreneurship journey so far…

Tell us how you landed your first client;

What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs in your niche…

Tobi Aiyenigba: The most important lesson I’ve learnt from entrepreneurship is this…you don’t need money, you need ideas! Idea is the springboard of entrepreneurship

Tobi Aiyenigba: My sisters were my first clients.
I walked up to them and showed them two shoes I’ve made and they loved it.
They showed to their friends and from there, I started becoming busy.

My advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is that they should stay focused. And they should find a need to meet. Once you’ve discovered a need, meet it to everyone far and near, let them know you as the solution to that problem!

Tobi Aiyenigba: We’ve got freebies: we have these bags we will be giving out next week with a free slipper. All you need do is buy our bag and you get the slipper for free.

Tobi Aiyenigba - Chat Fridays
Tobi Aiyenigba – Chat Fridays

Reach Us on
Facebook.com/aiyenigbatobi
Business page facebook.com/toubiescreations
Instagram @toubies_creations