Home News Ibadan-based Jokelinks Wins MSME Of The Year Award, Gets New Car, N500,000

Ibadan-based Jokelinks Wins MSME Of The Year Award, Gets New Car, N500,000

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Ibadan-based entrepreneur, Adejoke Lasisi has been announced as the winner of the National MSME of the year 2020.

The award was presided over by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and sponsored by Access Bank Plc.

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The event, which was held virtually, was attended by several state governors and their representatives, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, the Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Laragum, various heads of MDA’s and captains of industry.

Adejoke, who had applied for the award on two earlier occasions, won this year’s edition for her work with Planet3R — an enterprise that concerts plastic waste into eco-friendly products.

Jokelinks, as she is popularly known, received a car and a cash prize of N500,000 for this feat.

In 2017, as one of the 10 heroes doing amazing things, Awa Ti Ibadan, interviewed her and shared the story of her entrepreneurial journey.

Excerpts from the interview:

“I was born into the weaving business. My mom was carrying me in her womb when she started to learn the trade. From my early years, I grew up around the loom so that by the time I was 9 years old, I could weave any design given to me perfectly without any supervision. At 10 years of age, I was in JS 2 and I wove the aso-oke used by my principal’s son for his wedding. When he came into the country and I was shown to him as the one who wove his traditional wedding aso-oke, he was stunned. But aso-oke was not the only form of trade I carried on.

In J.S3, I was sold wara (local cheese). I will get the wara and prepare it with my mom and hawk them but I usually do this during break time. But before wara, in J.S.2 I sold oranges and tangerines whenever they were in season. I could buy a whole bag of oranges and I would sell them all before they got spoilt. I cannot explain what led me to do these things; I guess I derived a certain pleasure in doing these things.

At the end of my Secondary school education, I waited at home for a while before I was eventually admitted to study Medicine and Surgery at the Obafemi Awolowo University. Things went well in my first year, however, I failed a major course which I had to retake; this meant that in my year two I would be free all through because I couldn’t take on any other course with the one I had to retake. So, I had so much free time – then I began to learn more on how to play basketball. Things went down for my family: the Aso-oke went out of fashion and NITEL (where my father worked) went under. To survive in school, I began to do business again.

First, I began with selling eggs. Then later I realized the people were often hungry in the night when cafeterias on campus would have closed so I began to sell noodles too. I sold pure water alongside and I made some money from that. Those businesses were the only way I could sustain myself in school since things were very tight at home and nothing was forthcoming from that end. At the end of my third year in Medicine & Surgery, I had to cross-over to study Economics.

At some point, I got tired of school. I wasn’t doing the course I originally wanted to do and I had to find a way to sustain myself. Things had got so hard for me. In some ways, playing basketball helped but I was stretched thin. I did not quit school because I reminded myself that as the first child I had to set the right example to my younger ones, me giving up will mean that they can give up too.

It was sometime in my year two Economics that I went to Lagos and realized that the Aso-Oke thing was back in vogue. I returned to Ibadan and spurred my mom on to reopen her loom and get stuff started. I spent my NYSC playing basketball and making money. I represented Abuja and we came 3rd in Female Basketball Category at the EKO2012 National Sport Festival. Once NYSC was over, I took a marketing job in Lagos but I didn’t feel in the right skin, so I left and returned to the loom.

Of course my mom did not support me. She did not understand why I would want to take on a trade like weaving aso-oke when I have a degree in Economics that can earn me in job in a bank or an office with an air-conditioner and a fat salary. I knew I had to prove her wrong: use modern technologies, my networking skills to show her that I could up the game. I bought a fairly used loom for 10k and I set up shop in an uncompleted part of our house.

Slowly I began business and I would tell friends about what I was into, I’ll snap pictures and put them on Facebook. All these were in 2013. In the same 2013, I applied for Global Entrepreneurship Training in West Africa which I was selected along side with 14 other participants. This a week GET in West Africa which took place in February 2014 at Wenchi Ghana opened my eyes to a lot of things about Entrepreneurship.

In 2014, I bought another used loom after I have already had an apprentice. Business was growing little by little. Later in the year 2014, I applied for a business grant. Over 600 young entrepreneurs applied; I was so convinced that I could not make the shortlist, let alone win the grant. In front of the panel of judges – 4 whites and one black – I was fidgety. I pitched my Asooke business to them and explained how much impact it could make in Africa.

In January. 2015, I got a message from a friend congratulating me, I was like…for what, and she said she saw my name on Linda Ikeji’s blog. She had checked the shortlist of 80 entrepreneurs and my name was there. In February 2015, I was at the back of the house when I randomly checked my phone and I saw that the winners of the grant had been announced. My name was number one.

With the grant, I left the uncompleted building and got a more befitting space. I also made 10 brand new looms. I was able to boost my capacity with the grant and thereby grow my business. The internet has been a powerful tool for Jokelinks. Beyond marketing and all that, I have been able to partake in Entrepreneurship courses online where I get to learn about how I can conduct my business better and build a reputable organization.

In December 2016, I graduated from the Lagos Business School Entrepreneurship program funded through the Worldbank Scholarship for Women (Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management CEM).”

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