Although Sindy Foster is not a Nigerian, her heart beats positively for this nation. She found the negative news about Nigeria while at home in the daspora to be exaggerated to say the least. Her love for Nigeria propelled her continued visit to a young, vibrant country with so much energy, in her words. Today, she doesn’t only live and does her business in Nigeria but she is also happily married to a Nigerian. In this interview, she talks about ways Nigeria’s image can be sold in positive light abroad; being married to a Nigerian, living in Nigeria and many more.
By Florence Amagiya
Why do business in Nigeria?
Sindy Foster is not a Nigerian, but she is married to a Nigerian. I run a Marketing and PR Agency, known as Nylon Marketing; which originated in the UK. Nearly 10 years ago. It would be March 2020. My family background is from the Carribean and South America, but l am also mixed and look mixed because my mum’s family is from South American. Hence people are surprised l look different from the full Caribbean. My interest in Nigeria started in 2012 when l first got my first client from Nigeria. He was in the Oil and Gas Sector and l was very interested in the vision of Nigeria.
Taleveras was the first company that hired me, but most of the work we did was based in the United Kingdom. Gradually, l started spending more time reading the Nigeria Media and the stories that were told and written about Nigeria were mostly negative and being a positive person and somebody that loves finding solutions, I saw a challenging situation especially about a place where l see positive companies and business people; who are entrepreneurial in nature.
Nigeria has lots of positive entrepreneurs for the negative news emanating from it. So l started trying my best to interact with the local Media five years ago until l was invited to Nigeria. Severally, l asked my Nigerian clients to have meetings with me in Lagos, but they would prefer to have it in UK. So when the Media invited me to come; l was excited to come. l mean the Guild of Online Publishers/Editors invited me to come to Nigeria 5 years later; to talk more about the perception of Nigeria by the diaspora. We were receiving a lot of news online that were not credible and that’s negative representation to the Nigerian name. I was getting everyone is going to be raped, kidnapped or murdered which to me is totally negative.
How long have you been around in Nigeria?
I had to get an invitation letter; it was at the last minute planning because l wasn’t certain l was going to have the visa on time. l got the visa the day l was travelling and so nobody booked me a taxi when l eventually got to Nigeria.
l arrived Lagos airport on my own, never having been here before. Since there was no concrete arrangement for a taxi; l noticed on my own that there was Uber here in Nigeria. So l booked one and he took me to my hotel. l was only here in Lagos for 2 days before travelling to Abuja and l went back to London. Back in London; I met some Nigerians and they were talking negative about Nigeria again. This time l told them that l had just returned from Nigeria and that it wasn’t bad at all.
I even invited my friends to come for the weekend. Nigeria sounded like a young, vibrant country full of energy. There is so much energy in Lagos; you can actually buy into the energy of it. We ought to be optimistic in nature and not pessimistic. And coming to Lagos for the first time; l was keen on visiting again. I spent only a week in Nigeria. The connections l made with people in 2 days was amazing! After the conference, there was a lot of networking. They announced that l was there because l was the only foreigner who had come to Nigeria for this conference. Yes, they appreciated it. Even though there were lots of positives things about Nigeria; l observed and complained that Nigerians do not check stories before uploading online.
Was there a way forward for the Nigerian Media in this conference that you had?
Yes, there was a way forward which we all collectively talked about and they invited me for another meeting in 14 days time in Nigeria. So that they can implement what we had discussed.
What happened when you returned to Nigeria?
I returned to Nigeria like we planned, but l noticed that the implementation of the plans we made in the Media to help sell Nigeria in a positive light online wasn’t forthcoming and l thought of what to do. We had another meeting in Port Harcourt and l travelled back. I returned, but nothing was done about what we had discussed. So l had to think up a way to make implementation less strenuous and more workable for the Nigerian Online Editors/ Publishers.
There are a lot of technical issues and follow up on the readership, who is reading what? Where who is reading it is from? How many people are reading what? Capturing emails of their readers and details to help in knowing a lot of stuff and getting fitback from readers. So there is more work to be done before it would eventually come out right. But l am positive it can be achieved. And what l have been prescribing; l have been doing in another business and it is workable.
Who is Sindy Foster outside of business?
I am a mother of four bright children. I have a 26 year old daughter who is already independent. One of my son’s just finished from Oxford University and others are working on themselves. Their ages are 26, 22, 20 and the last child but not the least has just turned 19.
You mean you raised four children and you look this young and trim still?
Well, l love work and l am sure my brain is burning the calories because l don’t know how l have achieved what l have achieved without adding much weight and more or less any change. I as a person do not have time for the gym. So its not a matter of working out. Perhaps it is a genetic makeup because my mum when she had us; she put on weight but l didn’t put on any weight. It is not because my mum never worked.
She did because we lost my dad when l was only 8 years old and the burden shifted on my mum to take care of us without any savings. My mum was so inspirational to me; l think l became who l am because of her. She has 4 children she brought up on her own. My dad was like the partriach of the family; while my mum was the mother, but my dad’s death didn’t prepare my mum because it was a short sickness that took him away and my mum wasn’t prepared whatsoever.
But within two years of my dad’s death; my mum was able to complete the house they both started and that gave her a business. She somehow finished the house, paid the mortgage and started the business of buying small land, develop it into houses and sell off. That way, she was able to get something doing to take care of her children. And I saw how hard she worked as a woman on her own.
And because of what happened to her; of all of her children, she made sure l was educated to degree level. I couldn’t go on to Art School because there my passion was. She insisted l go on the University and I studied Economics. My mum eventually prepared me; in case l have an issue in the future. Nobody prays for negative things to happen but everybody has to be prepared. I am who l am today because of the high standard my mum set on entrepreneurship. Although she would never call herself an entrepreneur.
What has life taught you?
I remember when l wanted to start a business and l sampled some ideas with some friends and family. Some of the ideas were looked upon as impossible but today a lot of people are making so much money and name out of those ideas l had. So life has taught me to believe in myself first especially when it comes to personal decisions
How have you coped in a male dominated world of business?
I actually grew up with guys. My brothers had friends and they usually visited our home while we were growing up. No doubt l have had situations when people took me for granted just because of my sex and not for my brains but l proved them wrong eventually. And l didn’t help matters by choosing a male dominated business line because l own a Marketing Company and we market the Aviation, Oil and Gas and other sectors that are male dominated areas. But it has been fine so far.
A little bird told me you got married to a Nigerian?
Yes l fell in love with the country first without thinking what it would bring forth, but today out of the love l gave; the Almighty settled me with a fine Nigerian man from Delta state. And l am very happy.
What food have you eaten since living in Nigeria?
I have tried the moimoi and l enjoyed it, but l noticed that l do not like too much spicy food.