Starting a business in the design space did not come by chance to Olasukanmi Osonaike. She had picked up a strong interest in artwork and building construction from Secondary School and this led her to studying Geography and Regional Planning. After getting a Bachelor of Science degree from the Ogun State University, she got employed as a marketing/customer care officer with an Italian Wrought Iron company in Lagos where she got a deep dive into the beauty of wrought iron art and learnt a lot about the different products and services, customer preferences and the supply and demand aspects of the business within the Nigerian market.
With a cumulative experience of about 7 years in the construction works industry and getting to the point of identifying a huge demand for quality design work using wrought iron, Sukanmi decided to set up OlaRush Concepts in 2014. Within the space, Sukanmi’s view is that there are two major groups of key players who occupy the extremes. On one side, there are the large provider companies who provide these services at very high prices to large corporate clients while on the other end there are unskilled/semi trained artisans. Sukanmi’s focus is on bridging the gap in the middle through the provision of good quality wrought iron design work and services at competitive prices to home makers, working professionals and small and growing businesses.
OlaRush focuses on the production, supply and installation of gates, ornamental doors, fence rails, staircase, burglar proof, grille doors, all made from wrought iron. Her target clients are architects, builders, engineers, welders, interior decorators, artisans, estate developers. In less than 2 years of formal launch, she has 6 staff on her payroll and serves clients across Nigeria within Lagos island and mainland, Oyo state, Rivers state and Abuja FCT.
Sukanmi attributes the growth she has made to date to her background education and previous work experiences which have helped her develop and expand her clientele. Her background has also given her the insight into how to continue to offer and improve her products and services while also helping her to strategise on exploring more opportunities. Being in a male dominated business, Sukanmi believes that her female eye is an added advantage which gives her a very intuitive sense of style to be able to meet her customer’s needs and design specifications.
Her growth has not been without the typical challenges associated with running a small business in Nigeria. The effect of the volatile foreign exchange rates in Nigeria have impacted her cost model as most of her supplies are largely sourced from outside the Country. She also has challenges with local suppliers and skilled technicians who are usually unable to provide good quality materials and products.
Some of her thoughts for how to make small businesses grow and succeed include the need to make access to funds simpler and also providing entrepreneurship training and business support services to aspiring and new entrepreneurs by giving them people management skills and also training them on the rudiments of running a business. The latter for her was an important element that made her enroll in the Aspiring Entrepreneurs Programme at FATE Foundation of which she was selected as the Governor for her class (AEP 55).
Sukanmi’s dreams go beyond wrought iron service and design consultancy. She has seen the huge demand for locally produced wrought iron and in the next 5 years hopes to set up a wrought iron production and fabrication plant. She does not underestimate the infrastructural requirements, funding and dependencies (such as power) required to do this and is working towards ensuring that her business plan takes into full consideration the market realities/projections for effective business model options. Once done, the plant will be a significant employer of labor while also generating enough products for the target market. The expected socio-economic impact of this venture continues to drive Sukanmi to be the best to her team, customers and partners despite any challenges she may face.
For more information about OlaRush Concepts, please visitwww.olarushconcepts.com or like OlaRush on Facebook.