“Level of Awareness on Safety is Low; Therefore our Potential is Great!”
Mrs 'Fayo Williams is the Executive Director and Superintendent Pharmacist of Rely Supply Ltd. The company was incorporated in 1990 and started operations fully in 1991 from a small enclosure near their residence then at Orimolade Crescent off Adeniyi Jones.
Rely® started off as a broad based pharmaceutical company providing professional services in:
- Institutional Supplies of Drugs and Medical Equipment.
- Design and Marketing of the Rely® Range of First Aid Kits.
- First Aid and Workplace Safety Training
- Health Information and Consultancy Services.
Amongst an array of products and services, their jugular is the Rely® Range of First Aid Kits which are ideal for use in homes, offices, vehicles, construction sites, sports centre, hotels, field operations, laboratories, ships, farms, clubs, etc. The product is needed anywhere there are day to day activities because accidents can occur anywhere at anytime to anybody.
Access to finance was limited. With a little savings she had gathered over time, the bulk of her capital was borrowed from her family. Her spouse in fact did contribute a larger chunk of the capital which she remains ever grateful for. She did however approach the financial institutions, but there were (and probably are still not) no favourable structures for SMEs. She however canvasses for the kind of loans which the Bank of Industry (BOI) offers to be extended to SMEs with easy accessibility and a shorter process.
TAKING CALCULATED RISKS
Starting the business was her greatest risk having to leave a paid job. Therefore she deemed it necessary as an Entrepreneur to embark on the journey of Personal Development. There she discovered Experience isn't usually the best teacher.
She approached her mentors (about three of them all together in the field of Pharmacy and two others in Business all reputable and successful). Two of them inspected her current business location where she had earlier conducted a Location Analysis, Risk Mitigation and an Informal Marketing Survey, before the actual setting-up; and one of them asked to watch the trends in the safety business redressing the obsolete essence of the Fax-Machine caught off trend with the E-mail.
SURVIVING THE CRUNCH
Thinking outside the box:
With the global economic meltdown apparent in every sector, businesses shrink and there has had to be cut down in some allowances. Medical allowances are now leaner where we seem to carve our niche; little or nothing seem to be ear-marked to further training - and human capacity development has receded in funding.
We have had to flag new related products to have a basket of products to stir increase in volume sales and liquidity. One of such is Safety Audit for homes, schools, companies where safety health professionals (which we are) may be consulted to conduct private and corporate safety assessments which may as well be helped implemented.
Above all, we'd launched a productivity improvement scheme which encourages the staff to be more innovative while value is being added.
Advice to other Female Entrepreneurs
Having had to sacrifice so much to be in business from her time to delaying gratification and taking calculated risks; she advises other female entrepreneurs to:
- Look before they leap in business;
- Conduct an intensive market research into what people's needs really are before meeting them;
- Garner the needed technical skill to survive as an entrepreneur;
- Often bend over backwards to serve customers rightly.
BEYOND A HUNCH!
Having bagged a B.Pharm degree from OAU in 1982, Fayo further bagged an MSc in Pharmaceutics in 1984 from the same University. She briefly had job roles with DANA Group one of the subsidiaries that make Infusion Fluids at Ibadan and Health Aid Int'l Lagos in 1985 and 1986 respectively.
With an entrepreneurial spirit that churns ideas in her from time to time, and a motherly essence to take care of the home and the need to be close to the children, 'Fayo co-founded RELY with a clear vision to build a strong Headquarters that has interest in defined areas in Training, Export and Retail Pharmaceutical services.
A business survey and feasibility study was conducted to “test the waters” prior to a launch, then she discovered that the Level of Awareness on Safety was Low (and actually still is); therefore her market potential is great!
The low level of awareness was initially thought to be a set back as the business terrain wasn't familiar. Culturally, Nigerians are not tuned to emergencies. They mostly ward off portending danger with prayers, “tallis-man”, etc. But that naivety turned around as RELY became aware of the market potentials with the low level of awareness.