Dami, our lawyer always mentions the name Mofolusade Sonaike. In her words “Florence, there is this my sister’s friend that you should meet. She is also an entrepreneur catering to mothers. Her name is Mofolusade Sonaike and they call her mumpreneur“.
So sometime in May last year, two people walked into my office; a woman and a young man. They wanted office space for their growing business. I took them on a tour of ReDahlia Workspaces, she fell in love with the facility. When we sat to negotiate and agree on price and service exchange, she introduced herself as Mofolusade Sonaike and her partner as Marvin (I still remember that day vividly).
That name Mofolusade Sonaike rang a bell. I quickly asked “Are you mumpreneur?” and she said “yes I am mumpreneur. “Oh, I have heard so much about you”. I said as I stood up to give her a warm hug. That was how we sealed the deal. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship since then.
Mofolusade Sonaike is a smart, kind and down to earth woman. She always has a solution and a word of encouragement for any situation and challenge that you may be going through. Mofolusade Sonaike is my go-to person whenever I want to vent and rant about ‘this entrepreneurship journey’. She has brought warmth and a different kinda feel to our hub.
Mofolusade Sonaike is a wife, mother, serial entrepreneur, speaker, trainer and the convener of the kickass mum league. Ever heard the sentence -” jack of all trade, master of all”? Mofolusade Sonaike is the jack of all trade and master of them all. You all need to check her out on instagram lol. She has her own style and brings a different flavour to the game. I have learnt to remove ‘shame’ from her. Lol.
Thank you Mofolusade Sonaike for granting us this interview. We are privileged to be learning fundamental business lessons from your entrepreneurial journey.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mofolusade Sonaike
Background of Mofolusade Sonaike
My name is Mofolusade Sonaike and I will be 40 in September! Yaay. Lol. I have a background in Chemical Engineering from the university of Lagos and an MBA from the Lagos Business School of the Pan Atlantic University. My work experience span across IT, Banking, Oil and Gas and the Manufacturing sectors. I was in the corporate world for six years and exited in 2010 when my first son was about 2 years old.
Why Mofolusade Sonaike choose her current industry?
I’ll say the industry found me. After all said and done, I found my calling, my life purpose and I just followed its leading. From trying to find a solution for myself where I could be a present mother without losing myself, Mumpreneur.ng was born.
Tell us about family influence in your career
My parents were present even with their busy schedules, I never experienced a period when I felt alone or felt that my parents were not there for me and my siblings. My dad would reschedule flights to be at our graduations and important moments in our lives. I still have memories of my Dad taking us on math and physics lessons while my mum took other subjects.
That foundation made it hard for me to just be indifferent when I started having my own children. I wanted to be a successful career woman to please my parents and I still wanted to give my children the kind of life in terms of emotional availability as opposed to material things, that I had growing up.
Times have changed, and in their days, the job opportunities were available and you could pick and choose to work and live close to family unlike these days. It was a hard decision but I had to do what I had to do.
My parents have strong values that they imbibed in us. They do not believe in lazing about. My mum even after the fifth child completed her master’s degree program in Unilag with a baby.
Do you have mentors?
I have a lot of mentors who have influenced my life without me even meeting them. This age of social media has made it easy to follow and consume content from people who inspire you. I have followed people like Gary Vaynerchuk, bumper to bumper (literally), and Marie Forleo as well.
Asides virtual mentors, I have Tony Hadlay (my former boss at Dangote Cement) and Folake Ani Mumuney (head of corporate communications at Dangote at the time). Folake was one of the first few people I spoke to when I was about to resign to start a business and she has been there for me ever since.
Tell us about Mumpreneur.
Mumpreneur.ng is a network and support group for mothers in business. The aim is to raise more mothers who can successfully build businesses without sacrificing family. That is the core of the community.
I have had a fair share of business failures from all the other businesses that I have ventured into. So we did not incorporate Mumpreneur until I got clarity of purpose and vision. Besides, like I said, this purpose found me, It started out as a blog during the period I was frustrated from the many business failures after resignation. It quickly grew to a community of mothers with the same struggles, looking to connect and grow.
From interacting with these women over time, the challenges have been streamlined and we focus on creating solutions for their business. The solutions include providing visibility for their businesses, fostering collaboration and helping them leverage synergies. Ultimately, we want to have an e-learning platform – Kickassmum.com where more mothers can take courses in different practical areas of their business and home lives from the comfort of their homes.
The company structure for Mumpreneur
We run a lean structure. I am largely risk averse and I believe there’s always a steep learning curve in business. We have always bootstrapped so we take calculated risk. In 2016, I partnered with my brand manager to relaunch Branded.ng; a sister company that is for profit. We plough back a portion of the revenue from branded.ng into mumpreneur.ng.
Right now, we work with virtual staff and outsource our legal and accounting functions on a retainer basis.
We only started recruiting other experts to come on board as we position to raise funding through grants for the programs we plan to run.
Mumpreneur in 5 years and the role I intend to play
Mumpreneur will have a full-fledged academy for mothers in business where they can learn and grow. We also have plans to launch advocacy programs through movie productions and media outreaches to change certain set perceptions about women in business and raise more support for mothers in business.
On how long I plan on running this, I’ll just say, this is my life. Figure that out. Lol.
Tell us how you have leveraged technology in your business.
The whole business was launched through technology. Our e-learning platform for one is only possible through technology. We have a community of over 500 women on Facebook and an email database of over a thousand women with whom we communicate with from time to time.
Technology for us is an enabler without which I doubt we would have been able to reach as many women as we have been able to in such a short time.
Tell us the challenges you have faced and how you managed it
The biggest challenge has been replicating the impact from me as the focal point in other cities and locations without watering it down. We have had to recruit ambassadors and train them to set up similar structures in their locations and grow.
How have you been able to sustain your business in terms of financing?
As I said earlier, it’s been personal finances, crowd sourcing, support from friends and family and most recently a portion of the revenue from a sister company.
Any mistakes that you have made that we can learn from
I don’t think I would want to change anything, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without those learning. My first business after resigning failed over time because there was a lot I didn’t know, assumptions I made that were wrong. But because I have experienced failure I am able to relate with and understand the pain points of Mumpreneurs in the community.
How do you give back to the society? Any CSR projects?
Well, since this is not for profit, I guess this is my way of giving back. We have funded and supported some mothers within the community to start their own businesses through crowd sourcing and we plan to do more, once the structure is fully in place.
With my former business, Trezorlandia though, I had CSR projects around children, specifically children with hearing and speech challenges.
Other business interests?
I am a co-founder at Branded.ng where we basically help businesses look good online. Graphics, web design, communication and PR planning are some of the services we provide.
Advice for someone starting out a business in your field?
In any business at all, think big but start small. Run a pilot of your idea first, then scale in phases. If your only motivation is money, stay with your day job please. Lol. I’m not kidding.
What is your greatest achievement so far? Any awards?
I wouldn’t say there’s one particular achievement that has been the “greatest”, but I have been recognised on several platforms like:
Top 100 leading ladies in Africa
Top 50 women to know in Nigeria amongst others.
Each time I get listed on these platforms, I get inspired to do more.
When all is said and done, what is the most memorable thing you have done that you want carved on your tombstone?
Haha, all these most and greatest! I don’t know. Well, I guess I would want to be remembered for fulfilling my role as a mother of kings. I want to raise such fine gentlemen who would stand out and make a difference in society because they had a great mother.
Tell us what your typical day looks like?
Wake up, pray, exercise (when I’m in the zone sha, lol), get the boys ready for school, get myself ready to head out to the hub where I work out of, drop off the boys and head out. Unless I have a meeting on the island or something.
I typically ensure I’m home for 6, 6:30 latest even though I have a nanny so I get to review homework with the boys, chat about their day and mine even if it sounds like gibberish to them, lol and play till their dad arrives.
Tell us how you unwind.
I love music. For me, music is life. So to relax, I stream songs on Youtube or when I can make the time, go to a karaoke club to make some noise.
Romantic relationship status.
I am married to Oluwaseun Sonaike, we’ve been married 14 years now.
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