Mai Atafo is a Nigerian tailor, who caught the attention of the fashion industry, known for his forward designs and contemporary touch to classic clothing.
I returned to Nigeria because I wasn't getting fulfillment from the work I was doing overseas. I was making money but I always knew I could do much better than I was doing. I also felt I wasn't an instrumental part of the fabric of the system. Coming back home made me feel I finally had opportunity to give back. I give back by mentoring people and reaching out. If I can help others be better than me, it means my daughter will have a better world to live in tomorrow.
I was talking to someone about all the hardship I was going through in my business and he said: "If you didn't tell me all this, then you are not successful. The fact that you have identified your problems and working towards them, shows that you are on the right track". His advice helped me develop this confident attitude, when I am going through problems. I always take a step back and find a solution and move on, rather than staying in that box and complaining.
Aspiring entrepreneurs should understand that the most constant thing in any definition of entrepreneurship is risk. As an entrepreneur, the key thing you are doing is managing risk. They also need to know that the terrain is tough. Wherever you are in Africa, is very tough because things are not standardised. There is almost no entry level for any business.
As entrepreneurs, we need start building institutions when we are doing a business instead of being solo, which means your business dies with you. Building an institution means that you can even step out of the business and still profit with it.
Africa’s opportunity is her man power. It might semi-skilled or even unskilled but if we get a methodology for how best to utilise our manpower, Africa's destiny will change. More than anything though, I think the shared-love we have in Africa is our biggest asset. We have hearts and our hearts are huge.
Nigeria will be a country where everything is accessible, where integrity matters a lot, I see a Nigeria where honesty is key and positive competition among the tribes will yield positive building of infrastructure.
Nigeria's biggest opportunity is its people. We are the biggest black nation of the world. With numbers like ours, Nigeria would become the hub for Africa. We are very enterprising people.