Nwanegbo Donatus Aniukwu is a student of Anambra State University Economics Department. He is a fellow of the Chife Foundation. Donatus recently worked with two interns to interview Mrs. Grace Uduaka, a business lady near the Chife Foundation headquarters.
Chife Foundation Fellow, Donatus interviewing Grace Uduaka
Who is Mrs. Grace Uduaka?
She is a woman of her own, doing a business of her own.
A businesswoman near the Chife Foundation headquarters, she sells edible products like biscuits, bread, and cooked rice and beans. She purchases those items from Onitsha, which is the central market near Anam New City, and then she transports them to her small store near the project site and sells them for a small profit.
Grace started her business with the help of her husband who helped care for the welfare of their family of 10 people (eight children in addition to Grace and her husband). One of their children is married, another works in the nearby city of Asaba. Also, they have five children in school: one who has succeeded in pursuing tertiary education and is currently attending Oko Polytechnic Institution, a federal university in Nigeria); a second child in secondary school; and three children in primary school. Unfortunately, Grace’s last-born child cannot go to school due to the very far distance between her house and the school.
In Idemmili (in the southern part of Onitsha, Nigeria), Grace was trading yams and fish, but she left due to the conflict between Igbos and Fulanis, which took place in 1987-88. When we asked her about how life was in Idemmili, she smiled and commented, “I was making a lot of money.” Grace is a true businesswoman.
Then, due to the conflict and wishing to keep her family safe, she and her entire family moved to Ebenebe, where they started farming (mostly just for survival and subsistence). They also managed to make some profit from the crops harvested from her farm. In 2009, when the Chife Foundation began the Anam New City project and began employing workers at the site of the New City, Grace saw an opportunity for business. She knew that, while working, a person needs to eat for more energy. She started selling some things, such as drinks and food, to the workers at the site when the activities and building there began. Despite her income from this small business, she still cannot afford to live in an urban area (such as Onitsha) due to the higher expenses there, and that is why she lives in the farming settlement of Ebenebe – so that she provide for her family without owing money to anybody. She now sees Ebenebe as a profitable means of surviving because she is able to sell biscuits, bread, cooked rice and beans, cassava, and other edible items to community members.
Grace hopes that when the Anam New City project is well underway, she will have saved enough money to obtain a stall in the market in the New City, allowing her to sell her products directly from the new market place.
When we ended our discussion with Grace, we offered a hand shake which she accepted with a broad smile. She said that she will be the first among the pioneers to embrace the New City and that she is eager for Anam to become a respected trading center through the work of business people like herself .
Post by: Nwanegbo Donatus Aniukwu