Chioma Nwaorie has risen from the ashes of her past to create a Real estate marketing company where she markets both international and local real estate properties to prospects. Combining her experience while working with a British company in Dubai.
The licensed realtor has created a brand where investors get quality advice and assistance throughout process of purchasing of property.
What was your real estate job about?
I worked for a British Developer based in Dubai. They build luxury hotel units and sell them for investment purposes. I was a promotional venue executive. My job is to market these luxury units to prospective investors/clients.
When did you join the company?
Well, I joined the company exactly eight years ago in January 2013 in Abuja. I worked with them for about three years in Abuja and later joined them in Dubai in 2018.
But you loved working with them?
Yes, I loved it.
My job became a lifestyle for me. Outside the fact that it provided me with money. It gave me a social life. The company has built its brand over the years, so associating with it helps me a lot. My job function particularly was like a blank chèque. I decide what I take home at the end of the month and work towards it. It was a good place to be at the Time
How was it like in Dubai?
My job description and title remained the same. I worked in the malls and advertised to everybody. At first, I was at the mall, after a few months I was moved to the airport.
What did you learn while you were with them?
I learnt a lot. The company has a wonderful structure and I learnt that if you work in an environment where there is structure you would enjoy your job. And outside that, the company had people from different races and there was diversity. I never felt odd and was at home with them, everyone was treated equally. There was no serious hierarchy, you could call your boss by their name and if you had any issue, it was treated importantly. I also learnt the value of keeping to time. You had to be at work on time.
How have you incorporated this into your business?
I try to show up on time for whatever meeting I have. I try not to get so carried away by my status, I do not try to intimidate my workers on the job because I am the boss. We work together, I make it easy for them to communicate with me, not fear me. Yes, there is respect but there is no need for eye service. It is all about the result for me.
You were in love with your job and then you lost it, how did that feel?
Losing my job was one of the best things that happened to me. My life actually started when I lost my job. But at first, I was devastated, anxious. I felt betrayed, I questioned my identity. The stress of losing my job caused me to have mood swings, it affected my mental and emotional health. I didn’t suspect I was going to be sacked when I was. I felt powerless, I did not know what my future was going to be because the job was the only thing I had and looked forward to. I was also in a foreign country where if you did not have money you cannot eat.
I cried. I called my parents to tell them what happened then I called my friends. The advice my dad gave me was this: “If you go for omugwo and the child dies, you do not wait for another child in that house, you leave immediately.” I saw another part of the world, I sold off my rental apartment because I could no longer afford it and none of my friends would take me in. I was supposed to leave Dubai on the 30th of May but the flight was cancelled due to the airport closure and I had nowhere to go. Then a good Samaritan took me in, a Ghanaian who I met through a friend I had only met once. I was shocked. To make money I thought of a lot of things I could do.
The first thing that came into my mind was selling perfume, that is how confused I was at the time. Then I remembered what had been my side hustle which was cooking and. A lot of Nigerians passed through the airport where I worked and they would ask me to prepare certain Nigerian dishes for them so I would do that and sell it to them. Losing my job was one of the best things that happened to me because that was what birthed My Nigerian Cuisine.
What is your educational background?
I studied Biochemistry at Madonna University and graduated in 2012.
What was your dream job after graduating?
My dream was to work in a lab, a pharmaceutical lab precisely to produce drugs. What I initially planned was to study pharmacy but Nigeria happened.
Do you think entrepreneurship is the solution to the unemployment rate in Nigeria?
Well, there are no jobs and even if you get employed, it is either not the kind of job or pay that you want. Outside that, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’m not going to tell you that it is easy, but it is definitely better than sitting around and waiting for the government..
How did you get the capital for your business?
The thing about food is that you don’t need much to start. I started from my house initially but now I have a space in Mount View Mall in Abuja. My Nigerian Cuisines focuses on everybody that loves Nigerian foods.
How did the name of your restaurant come about?
In Dubai I wasn’t selling African foods or Arabian foods and considering the country I was at the time I wanted a name that will make it stand out because I focused on Nigerian meals.
Do you enjoy it?
Yes! I do! Actually, I have a passion for cooking. I love cooking. You can wake me up in the middle of the night to cook and I would go to the kitchen and cook without complaints. Making money from it is like a bonus to me.
So you’re of the idea that you should find what you are passionate about and make money from it?
Absolutely! If you are passionate about something it makes it really interesting.
People will be quick to form opinions about your success so far, attributing it to your looks, but do you believe in ‘pretty girl privilege’?
Yes, there is a pretty girl privilege but it does not come freely.
When you say it doesn’t come freely…
We live in a world where women are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing business with the opposite sex. You get to hear things like you scratch my back and I scratch your back (Not in all cases) but being a principled person is what has guided me so far.
What do you think can make Nigerian companies better?
You pay your staff very well. I try my best with my company. I try to pay on time, give them incentives. On the day business is good, everybody feels it. After I got back from Dubai, there was no Nigerian company I wanted to work with because one thing most Nigerian companies lack is structure, there is absolutely no structure. I have worked in some of these companies before so I can tell you this for free.
Apart from cooking, what do you enjoy doing?
I love watching movies. I love comedy, especially sitcoms. I love Friends, Girlfriends, Big Bang Theory. I enjoyed How to Get Away with Murder, Lucifer.
What are your future plans for the restaurant?
We are opening up a park in Gwarinpa. The project is ongoing now. And My Nigerian Cuisine is a big business that will have a production unit soon that will focus on producing local spices and snacks like plantain chips. The spices line will be called, My Nigerian Cuisine Spices and it will be for export and local markets too.