Chinaemerem Ruby Ottah


“Starting my own business made the most sense for me. I’m a creative individual, but I knew I had a responsibility to my family.”

Chinaemerem Ruby Ottah lives in Surulere, Lagos, one of the largest and most densely populated communities in the city with residents living on less than $3 per day.

Watching her parents struggle to make ends meet, Chinaemerem realised she needed to harness her creative talents: strong drawing skills and an eye for detail as well as her competitive drive. Chinaemerem used these skills to help pay for her Ordinary National Diploma (OND), before ultimately deciding she wanted to concentrate on fashion and open her own business.

“I started Chiny Styles in 2017. I had been attempting to set up the business before then, but I had little knowledge of how to manage it effectively until I came to FATE Foundation. FATE ultimately helped me to set up my business as it is now: designing female fashions using traditional Nigerian fabric. Today we are also planning to move fully into the ready-to-wear market.”

When she was looking for help to start her business in 2017, Chinaemerem enrolled in the Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme (AEP) conducted by FATE Foundation, YBI’s member in Nigeria. FATE works to promote impact-driven initiatives that help build entrepreneurial skillsets among young people. It is this population that makes up the majority of Nigeria’s workforce. To date, FATE has supported over 5,400 graduates of their entrepreneurship training programme while also supporting over 100,000 young Nigerian entrepreneurs as they establish their businesses.

After completing the two-month programme, Chinaemerem began utilising FATE’s support services, including access to mentoring, business advisory services and their funding linkage programme. Being matched with her mentor made the biggest difference in Chinaemerem’s business. Her mentor, Nero Ogheneovo, a local CEO, is an experienced entrepreneur who leads a successful clothing manufacturing business. “It was my mentor who ensured that I registered my business correctly and that I opened a business account. I don’t know what I would have done without his help.” Chinaemerem still keeps in touch with her mentor for occasional guidance when she encounters new and unfamiliar issues.

Along with mentoring, Chinaemerem has benefited from the funding linkage programme. In 2018, she was a beneficiary of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s AGSMEIS loan for small and medium enterprises, and received financing support and equipment for her business. The support included the provision of a generator, heat press, bead stoning machine, industrial weaving machine and industrial sewing machine.

With the necessary knowledge and financial support lined up, Chinaemerem was able to put the proper foundations in place to grow her business. “Before my entrepreneurial training with FATE, I was operating just to earn a living, but I now know how to reposition my business to attract the right customers, and it has paid off.”

Thanks to the FATE, Chinaemerem has been able to hire one employee and to support her family. She is also planning for the future by putting aside savings each month with the hopes of investing further in her business.

For upcoming young entrepreneurs who do not know where to start, Chinaemerem has practical advice:

“You don’t really need to start big; start with the little you do have available while you keep the big picture in mind. Don’t only look at the glory of other successful entrepreneurs, but try to know the stories behind their successes.”

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