By Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh
ILOBA, STEPHEN ONYEKA is one of the pioneer beneficiaries of the Delta State Government’s Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) in the 2015/2016 Cycle. He hails from Aniocha North Local Government Area and studied at the Institute of Management Technology, Enugu where he obtained anHND in Marketing.
After four years of fruitless search for a white-collar job, fate smiled at him through the State Government’s STEP. He was trained and established with starter packs which marked his journey into the world of entrepreneurship and fashion. Currently, he is the CEO of Stephen Africa, an employer and a job creation trainer.
Six years after, Illoba shares his experience of how he has expanded his business, branded his products, began to raise a family, bought a car, acquired a land and grown his enterprise from being just self-employed to training others and becoming an employer of others.
Hear him, “Everything has been good. I had prior knowledge of fashion before I enrolled in the programme. Since establishment, I have expanded from having 2 machines to having fourteen machines, including 4 industrial ones.
The patronage is above average. I make both male and female wears as English shirts and trousers, suits, senator suits, native wears, bridals etc. I have trained and graduated over 35persons out of which 5 were STEP trainees. I have 10employees. Among his employees is his wife whom he met during his days of training.”
Having expanded his business to Aba in Abia State, 6of his employees are stationed in Aba. According to him, he controls and manages his business by travelling to Aba every other week, that is, one week in Asaba and the next one in Aba.
He hopes to have his major products dominate Africa markets in the next five years. His products are branded Stephen African with an embroidery of Nigerian flag. He is expanding so fast and has been able to organise an international event on fashion.