06 Nov Zainab Oyewo: We aim to create as many jobs as possible.
24-year old Zainab Oyewo, is an I.T. Graduate and co-founder of Wesabi; a platform that helps homeowners find trusted artisans or handymen for repairs and maintenance.
In this interview, Zainab shares the motivation behind starting her brand.
Wesabi was co-founded by four people in Abuja 2015; Zainab Oyewo, Sanni Ifedolapo, Shawn Onalaja and John Ojebode. It all started when my husband (Sanni) and I moved to a new apartment in Abuja. So many things needed to be fixed; from plumbing works to electrical. The environment was so serene that we had no idea where to find help.
I was frustrated. My kitchen sink was leaking. I could not do dishes without having to put a bucket below. Sanni took to the streets in search of the contacts for these artisans. Some numbers were discovered written on poles and fences. He got a few contacts but we were worried about the kinds of people we will be inviting into our homes. It took us about a month to fix everything.
Coming from an IT background; my husband and I thought about creating a platform to help people in such situation. The goal was to provide people with artisans that could be trusted and had their backgrounds checked.
Before then, we had to run a survey to understand the depth of such problem- finding trusted & reliable workers in the Neighborhood. 7 out of 10 people had not-so-good stories to tell. We then pitched the idea to our friends; Shawn and John and that was how Wesabi came to life.
Wesabi means “we-know”. The platform generally means we know trusted experts that can help around the home. We provide reliable workmen for domestic or commercial works at affordable fees. All services offered through our platform are insured up to the tune of N1,000,000.
Yes, there are a lot of artisans out there but you will agree that a very few of them are highly skilled, reliable and somehow difficult to find. A lot of people have had and are still having bad experiences with artisans. It is either a shoddy job was done or prices of material on the list were hiked. Some artisans go ahead to buy low quality materials. Some receive payments but never finish the job.
Workmen in the Wesabi network are highly vetted. We undergo background checks on them and importantly; skill assessments. They also attend classes on customer relations. We teach them how to talk to their clients and manage situations as they occur. They have been actively engaged with work, their customer etiquette have improved as well as their monthly income.
Sometimes we wake up to text messages from workers and clients thanking us for having such a trusted platform available. Our major drive is knowing and seeing that we can create some form of employment to artisans. We have helped provide a sure means to help them cater for their families.
This gives us joy and motivates us. Now, clients don’t have to stress to get things done in their homes when wesabi professionals are just a click away.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
Word of mouth has been our most effective customer acquisition channel. We also engage in a door to door marketing process. It helps builds trust in our prospective client.
Wesabi was part of the first Incubation program organised by Ventures Platform Abuja and we received funds from them. We also won a grant from AE (African Entrepreneurship) Programme 2017
We bootstrapped wesabi for a year. Funds to run the business came from our personal savings. A time came when we could no longer run the business or pay bills and the profit we were making wasn’t sustainable. At that point we felt it was the end..
Then, Ventures Platform incubation programmed happened. They helped and trained us to grow faster and acquire more paying customers. We learnt a lot from them and we have been soaring ever since.
The challenges we faced, in the beginning, was receiving payment. Since it is a service oriented business, you pay for service only after work is delivered. Some clients want to pay later or never; which is not good for any business.
Now, the Wesabi mobile app has been introduced; payment is seamless. The workers are well oriented on the proper usage of the app to receive and confirm payment immediately after completing each task.
We aim to improve the quality of artisans in the blue collar sector in Africa starting with Nigeria. We want to create as many jobs as possible for the average skilled individual.
DEAR BUSINESS TODDLER,
Never give up. Persistence is key to winning the game .
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