Caroline Asiu ignored intense pressure on her from friends and relations to drop her decisions to be a cobbler but today she is the happier for it
| By Augustine Adah | Feb. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
WHEN Caroline Asiu, a cobbler based in Benin, lost her job as a factory worker about eight years ago, she took a decision against looking for another job else-where. Instead, she wanted to acquire a skill that would make her become self- employed. But she had difficulty in the choice of a vocation which almost marred her dream. Eventually, she settled for cobbling. Many friends and relations frowned at the choice because they considered it to be a male dominated profession. In addition, they believed she would not make a good fortune from shoe mending business.
Some of them suggested that she should go into petty trading, hair dressing, or fashion design. But the desire of Asiu then was to go into a trade that is not common among women. She chose cobbling because of her conviction that she would do well and make good profit out of it. Several criticisms to Asiu’s choice of cobbling continued after she completed her training and acquired a shop at Planwell junction, Benin-City.
“When I started, it took a lot of courage for me to continue because many people would come here after gazing at my shop for some minutes, asked a lot of questions, and leave. This continued throughout the first month,” Asiu said.
But today, those who were discouraging her are not only her major clients but are bringing more customers to her. Though her shop was no located on a major road, customers from different parts of the city continue to trace her to the present location. Asiu had a busy time in December as the number of her clients doubled. Having worked assiduously to meet the demands of her customers, she took some days off to rest in January and prepare adequately for the new year. The usual tradition of people spending so much money during the yuletide, has affected business at Asiu’s shop as few customers were seen there. “It is unfortunate that you came here in January when business activities are yet to fully pick up.
“Last month, I had a difficult time attending to my customers because they were many,” she said. Asiu who had her training in Benin, about seven years ago, before getting married, specialises in making both male and female shoes in addition to repairs. She combines it with designing handbags.
The lady cobbler has advised youths to think of self- employment instead of waiting for white collar jobs that may be elusive. But one of the challenges facing Asiu at the moment is insufficient capital to expand and extend her services to every part of Edo State. Her intention is also to occupy a bigger shop and recruit apprentices. “One of the things I plan to achieve this year is to source for additional capital to expand my business so that my services could get to the whole of Edo State and beyond,” Asiu said.