Most businesses today were once entrepreneurial ideas conceived by some people purposely to provide solutions to human needs.
The need for making people feel loved and be celebrated could be seen as a norm by expressing emotions and feelings for one another, but that is what a man in a students’ environment saw as a vacuum that could be filled when he realized that students lack gifts items to celebrate love and beautiful moment with themselves and their loved ones.
What started from a kiosk in the University of Jos in 1989 as a small-scale gifts business has now grown to be multimillion naira gifts business expanding to three major cities in Nigeria [Jos, Abuja & Lagos]. Celebrations Cards & Gifts Limited is a one-stop-shop for varieties of gift items targeted at three-generation, the aged, adults, and children are all the potential customers of Celebrations Nigeria.
In an interview with the Managing Director of the company, Dele Balogun spoke about his dad’s entrepreneurial journey, how luck and necessity were significant in establishing the gifts business which now turns to be a big business with modern ideas and innovation.
Taking over the business fully in 2012 aftermath of his dad passing away, Dele said he was a reluctant entrepreneur who has always wanted the tie and suit office work but finds out that it wasn’t working and decided to figure out where his goals align and create structure around what he wanted to achieve.
When asked about the long span of the business which is not so common in Nigeria seeing businesses outliving their founders, he said his father created a structure that allowed the business to succeed without him been there. ‘’It takes a lot of drive, many of us are passionate about what we do and we want it to grow”, he said.
Speaking about the uniqueness of Celebrations Cards & Gifts Limited, He noted that the difference between them and competitors is not what they trade but the way they give it to our customers and handle their needs. He added that their potential customers are generational customers from grandparents, adults, and kids.
The gifts at Celebrations Nigeria include modern greeting cards, designed cufflinks, customized mugs, art, and creative design gifts, teddy bears, among other gift items, and wrapping and packaging peoples’ gifts are part of the services rendered.
Commenting on how people have been part of the success, he said, ‘It is highly impressive when you see people patronizing and supportive, it means you are doing something that keeps them coming back. It is very tough in Nigeria but you need good people and invest in your team, you cannot stop doing that and people will work for you. People are important keeping businesses alive.’’
Asked about the business funding, Dele explained how business records keeping got their loans from a financial institution when they solicit for funds.
“We approached a financial institution for a loan, telling them we are into gift card business, they couldn’t understand until we show them what we’ve done and eyes popped when they also saw the numbers”
For Business owners, Dele urged them to keep account even if they are a small business company.
“If you start small, make sure you keep your records, and with that, you can write a proposal to investors to invest in your business and that could change the story”, he urged.
Speaking on how they created a niche and grow on something people see as nothing. He said it was through the company length of operations, working at different periods, earning customers’ trust are reasons they have remained relevant in what they do.
For the first five years, I didn’t run ads but we use word of mouth and people saw what we do.
Stating the challenges faced, Dele admitted that It was tough but the need to be creative and innovative and sourcing avenues to stay relevant and keep going made the difference. Adding that their gifts are worked on with international brands but pandemic brouhaha has turned them to local gift items and all our gifts are 100% locally produced products.
Dele however implored young entrepreneurs to be resilience and always keeping their business transactions and records intact for bigger opportunities in expanding their businesses
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