For Sonia Omon-Obehi Ovuehor, the Managing Director of Sonaira Business World, it is making money through many skills or nothing.
The young lady who hails from Southern Nigeria and a postgraduate student of Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, Nigeria believes that the best in life can’t come from one stream of business.
This mentality shaped her to be the rock that she is today. After having different skills, It was also her passion to have naira and Benjamins in her pockets.
The ‘Jack’ in the phrase ‘Jack of all trade’ should be swapped with ‘Sonia’ to read; ‘Sonia of all trade’ because this perennial entrepreneur has an utmost pleasure in buying and selling major commodities with a holistic approach.
From the beginning, during the brainstorming, when she was consulting with friends and family member for a company name, it was very clear that the passion is to make money that is why there is ‘Naira’ in the name of the company. The name was formed from the prefix of her different nicknames and Nigerian currency.
“When starting Sonaira Business World, I sought my friend’s opinion. I always wanted to include a currency symbol to my official business name so we tried Sopounds and Sodollars but none rhymed more than SoNaira with the Naira representing our Nigerian currency.
“Later on, I discovered that Sonaira is an Indian/Pakistani name meaning ‘Pleasant sound, Good luck and Era of the sun.’ I couldn’t have wished for a better meaning,” she stated.
Long before Sonaira Business World was formed, Sonia had been a created a business hub. This lady can’t stay a day without seeing something to sell to someone. To buy and sell is in her bloodstream. Narrating her sojourn into the business world, she stated that it took extreme personal development to become who she is today.
“Over a decade ago, I started business as a very young student. I sold cosmetics, thrift clothes, shoes and bags. Then worked intermittently during the incessant academic strikes. A major career experience I had was working as an intern in the now defunct AFRIHUB, UNIBEN BRANCH. It was an ICT company and my computer skills accelerated while working with them and this skill opened windows of opportunities for me after my first degree.
“Atfter graduation, I worked in a telecommunications company, another construction company and lastly a beauty company before moving on to birth my own small and medium scale enterprise.
“My growing up was quite sweet and sour. On one hand, I had parents who strived so hard to give me quality education. On the other hand, it was filled with solitude because I had severe allergies due to my medical history, this made my parents over protective by shielding me from going out or having playmates. It affected my interaction with people as I grew older and made me develop acute mood swings in my teenage years.
“It took a lot of personal development and life experiences to shape and mold myself into the woman I am today. I also appreciate my parents, siblings and close friends for guiding me through the whole reformative process,” she stated.
In 2015, Sonaira Business World began to have form, like a phoenix, it was birth from years of struggle and perseverance, from a thousand mistakes, from indefatigable zest, to attend to the needs of human.
“We’ve been rendering skeletal services since 2015 but started fully in 2017. We’ve experienced enormous challenges, theft, fire incidence and a lot more. Notwithstanding, we never stop conquering and overcoming. Our clientele base is strong and keeps growing daily. This is the reason we regard our clients as family,” she stated.
When Sonaira Business World was finally established the services were already sorted for, it had created a niche for itself. Part of the service includes; Formulation of natural skincare products, bulk and retail supply. Human hair importation and supply. Adult and Children’s fashion. Adult pleasure toys. Real Estate Consultation. Global Courier & Logistics. Business Mentorship. And Drop Shipping opportunities for students, fresh graduates and stay-at-home moms.
It was not a straight curve for Sonia and Sonaira Business World, there were tribulations, loss, and sleepless nights. She said the first challenge she had in the course of the business prepared her for the journey ahead.
According to her: “The earliest challenges encountered were gaining customers’ trust since we started as an online store. Second was getting reliable logistics companies. We overcame the first challenge by proving our authenticity and making our prices moderate. With time, we got referrals from previous buyers. We partnered with reliable courier companies and overcame the second challenge.”
She added that establishing and running a business in Nigeria is a different ball game. Nevertheless, there are unwritten strategies she adopted that has been serving the company.
“We agree that Nigeria is extremely tough for business ventures due to her depreciating economy. Nevertheless, we’ve imbibed an optimistic culture at Sonaira Business World. Our eyes are placed on the future because it’s better to look forward than backwards. This spirit and vision has kept us moving on through the toughest times.
“Another key strategy is that we try to always keep up with the times by upgrading our goods and services. We also have a non competitive mode of operation whereby we focus on our strengths, eliminate our weaknesses and try not to imitate the general market. What works for another business might not work for us, so we always stay focused on our lane.
“In reality, running multiple businesses is a no brainer for those that understand the dynamics of time. You can’t physically be everywhere at once but it’s possible to monitor several businesses today through advanced technological gadgets.
“An important factor is that every individual is multi talented, it’s best to pray for discernment in other to know where your talents lie. For me, I don’t see myself as running several businesses, I see myself as having multiple skills and knowing how to apportion time to each one of them periodically,” she stated.
Sonaira Business World is solid that it never bothered during the coronavirus pandemic that ravaged the world. She said the company survived effortlessly. “I’m aware that this year’s pandemic has affected several businesses but we’ve been beyond blessed. Our business focuses on beauty and personal care which is a daily necessity for everyone. We have an active online platform for sales and consultations. During the lockdown, we had cases of clients wanting to restock skin care and sanitary products for their entire household at all cost. Our courier partners were also very accessible to quicken delivery methods, ”she stated.
Aside seeing her mother run different business, Sonia Omon-Obehi Ovuehor got her motivation from books and exposure.
She said: “My motivation might have come from my experiences as a child. Growing up, I watched my mom run several businesses, petty trades and even a daily paid job at times. This gave me the insight of how possible it is to make money from several sources. Also, Few years ago, I read several books from motivational speakers like Brian Tracy, Robert Kiyosaki and other notable authors, one phrase that kept recurring was ‘multiple streams of income.’ Then in 2014, I joined the Pan African Institute for Entrepreneurship and Community Development and we did a full course on MSI (Multiple streams of income). This was when it became so surreal that in today’s world and economic climate, one cannot survive with one income alone, the ability to have various sources of income like I learned as a child is very vital.”
When Sonia was asked about the future of Sonaira Business World, the answer she gave was not surprising because the brand has become a household name and reckoned with by all and sundry. The rare philosophy of the company also put it on a solid foundation.
“I plan to attain prominence in Philanthropy, Counselling and Mediation in the near future. My business philosophies are simply: ‘From little acorns do great trees grow.’ ‘Little drops of water makes a mighty ocean.’ All great things started from a small point. I believe an entrepreneur is one who can make something out of nothing, whether with a big capital or not. It’s better to start small, make small mistakes and learn quickly; than starting too big and make mighty blunders. This is one of the factors of having a sustainable business in this time and age,” she stated.
Sonia’s hard work has paid out. She has bagged some awards which includes: Most aspiring realtor in 2017. Award for excellence and innovation by the Pan African Institute in 2014. Award for excellence presented by Smart woman Nigeria network in 2013 and 2019. Prestigious award Presented to key Fashion & Beauty Entrepreneurs by Monnel Brand Agency in 2020, and a few other academic awards.
My brand is successful because it is unique; it cater for the needs of everyone on a budget. It offers opportunities to people to earn as they resell or refer others. It also take it’s clients seriously and consider their interests first before making reforms.
Sonia Omon-Obehi Ovuehor is not ‘all work no play,’ she dedicate time for recreation and vacation with or without family.
“I go on few vacations, recreational spots and listen to good music. I plan to be with family and thank God for surviving this year’s ordeals,” she stated.
She advised that young aspiring entrepreneur sort after passion before starting a business. “Develop a passion and make money out of it. This is the first step of breaking ties with poverty,” she stated.