Trending 29-year old ‘beautiful fufu seller’, Ebi Tonye Michael is a graduate of Niger Delta University, NDU. She studied Adult Education and Community Development /English and Literary Studies.
The Bayelsa State born entrepreneur specializes in producing fufu in large quantity for sale.
In this interview with EDITH CHUKU, she bears her mind on her chosen trade, among other things.
Who is Ebi Tonye Michael? I
I am from Bayelsa State, a native of Biogbolo Community in Yenagoa Local Government Area. I’m 29 years old, a graduate of Niger Delta University, studied adult education and community development /english and literary studies, in the faculty of Education, department of Educational Foundations and I am your one and only beautiful fufu seller.
How long have you held that title, beautiful fufu seller?
Hahaha! Its up to two years. We are going to three years now. My dream is to own a fufu processing industry and I believe that this vision will be a reality.
Why fufu, what inspired you?
I am proud of my fufu business, it’s what puts food on my table and pays all my bills, I prefer pounding fufu to earn a living than begging. Before I went into fufu production, I was selling female clothes, shoes, bags and also a hair stylist, but there was no profit. After my NYSC, I was retained in my place of primary assignment as a teacher. My salary was 20,000.00 and at the end of the month, my salary don’t come on time, the worse of it was that I couldn’t even account for my 20k salary. I complained to my mother that I couldn’t account for my salary, she then advised me to go into fufu production since I was already very good in producing it.
How did you learn to produce fufu?
I learnt it from my mum; my inspiration is my beloved mother who built her houses through fufu business, sent her children to school through fufu business. It took me one whole month to accept her idea of me producing fufu for sell, but I humbled myself and started producing fufu and supplying to stores around my hood then I noticed the profit was much better.
So, it’s inherent, from mother to daughter.
(Laughs) I gree, we both sell fufu but she trained me, she taught me all I know in this business.
Okay, like your mum, is your life going to be centered on this business?
As I’m talking to you now, I’m thinking of how to get my masters degree form, so my life is not going to be based only on my fufu business. In fact, if good paying white collar job comes, why not? That will serve as a perfect addition.
Don’t you think some men would look down on you as a common fufu seller?
Even before I started, it has already been going on, people would say fufu seller like you, they always look down but if you want something and you know what you truly want, don’t listen to what people have to say, block all those negative vibes, do what you want to do, give yourself some good vibes, calling me fufu seller or trying to mock me, I don’t pay attention, they are not footing my bills, so I don’t care, I just give them deaf ears.
Have you ever felt ashamed of selling fufu, maybe you met friends and you felt…?
(Cuts in) Yes, that was when I started, but I told myself that if I have to keep doing that, the business will not grow, so, I’m no more ashamed, I can’t be ashamed at all.
What if in marriage, your husband says, no more selling of fufu, what would you do?
My dear, I am passionate about this fufu business, I love it. I can’t let go just like that. A man that met me selling fufu, married me, now, as his wife, he says I should stop, there has to be a plan B, and it has to be better than A.
Let’s say he plans establishing you in another line of business.
Then, the business must be lucrative and the monthly income must be higher than what fufu business is giving me, but if it’s not that way then no way, he should not even go there. See, when you are doing something you are fond of, passionate about, doing something with the whole of your heart, there is this joy, it’s not about the money, even if you are not making profit but you are very happy, the spirit is very calm, there is joy in you, so, it’s not about the profit alone.
Do you have any regrets?
I regret not starting this fufu business early. I’ve sold cloths, I’ve sold bags, I hawked plantain, kerosene, I’ve sold so many things but I never had this feeling of fulfillment that I have now, there is this fulfillment in me. I want to get packaging bag, once I get that, I will do my complementary card, just this morning I sent bags of fufu to Rivers State, sincerely, there is fulfillment in me.
Can you recall a particular embarrassing moment in the course of your chosen trade?
Chai! Jesus oh! Of recent, a guy called, I didn’t even know him, then he said he wanted to come to my place, I said okay, I thought he was coming to buy fufu, only for him to come and say he is a very good husband material, he would like to get married to me, and he likes women that works, that we are going to make a very good couple, sincerely, that thing really pissed me off.
As if I am selling the fufu because I need a man in my life, or because I can’t do any other thing, I was really embarrassed that day.
So, what qualities do you want in your dream man?
God fearing, someone who is sincere, I need someone who has the same ideology with mine even if it’s not hundred per cent, at least we should be on same pace. For instance he knows I am a fufu seller, he should give me ideas, he should be able to support me, not discriminate, mock me, I need someone I can plan with, someone that will be very open with me, and I hate lies.
What are your challenges?
Like now, I need space. The production is more and demand has increased. Where I am now is really very tight, so I am thinking of how to get space and also get bigger pots. Someone has given me industrial stove already, so I am thinking of expanding it, get a shopping hall where people can just walk in, get fufu and go.
Any word for those passionate about something but don’t have the courage to start?
People worry more about what their friends will say, than what they truly want to do earnestly, like before, when I want to post my business online, I think about what my friends will say, what will this person say and all that, but, I encouraged myself that those talks will not put food on my table, somebody must talk, so, if you want to do something, be determined, push yourself, overlook, if it’s selling of pant, package it, don’t be ashamed, sell it differently, you can sell pant and still slay, me I do fufu, on Sundays you won’t know that I do fufu, weekly days ehee! you will see me looking like a market woman, but on Sunday you can’t see me looking like a market woman, so packaging, self determination and consistency, even when I delivered to Port Harcourt, I still have more delivery, continuity, be truthful, don’t eat your profit, don’t swallow your capital, grow, people will look up to you, my younger sister told me that I am her hero, that means she is looking up to me, so whatever you are doing, determine and pray before you start.