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ANPC janitor, Okafor, creates exotic furniture from newspaper wastes

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Current trend, globally as in Anambra State is creative economy and turning waste to wealth. Adaobi Okafor is a janitor in Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (ANPC), publishers of National Light Newspapers. Her ability to convert waste to wealth in very creative ways is profound. Recently, she engaged in the production of very attractive home furnitures from discarded newsprint end reels. Her works are engaging.

Captivated by the quality of her products and her boldness, ONYEDIKACHI ANYAONYEABOR and ONYEDIKA NWADUKWE approached her for an interview. She revealed her readiness to set up and run a pace-setting carpentry workshop, even as she disclosed what spurred her into  the trade. Excerpts:

Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration for carpentry?
As a matter of fact, I never passed through any school – formal and informal to learn carpentry.

Naturally, I have the inclination to creativity. Wastes grab my undivided attention. What many call waste is for me raw material for the production of a new product. So, each time I see waste, I always think of how to put it into good use.

I started by converting waste products of wood, carton, fiber to making tables and chairs for my family. Soon, people began to admire the products, requesting me to also produce for them.
Now that people are interested in your products at a wider range,

what is your goal?
You see, men are considered to have the prerogative of such trade of upholstery making and showrooms. I intend to rent a workshop, employ workers and expand the business.

This will at least correct the notion that such craft is for men. Women shy away from engaging in most meaningful professions and trades. If men and women share such trades as fashion and design (tailoring), hairdressing, running of restaurants, etc. There is nothing strange in their sharing carpentry and woodwork as a trade.

Considering your being a staff of National Light, how do you cope with your office work, domestic engagements and the trade?
Planning and time management are very important in all aspects of human daily activities.

I wake up quite early in the morning to do some of my craft plans for the day before preparing food for my household and children for school, after which I come to work. Moreover, I do not solely do all the jobs myself. I have sources for building the skeleton of my wood works or products and tailors for sewing. I’m also assisted by those who come to learn from me.

Apart from time, what other challenges do you experience?
Like most other entrepreneurs, funding is my major problem. I have sufficient parcel of land where I can establish a workshop. But because of money, I find it difficult starting immediately. As a low income earner, I find it difficult generating capital for the business.

Already, Anambra State Government is helping people in skill acquisition. I’m making effort to see how much and how far government and good spirited individuals can encourage me and other persons in need of financial support to float the business.

As an innovator, how do you consider your products?
I consider them as unique.The general practice is to mostly use wood and cartons as a background for mirror and gift frames. In my own case, I use glasses. For side stools, I sometimes pad the top with landing, foam and carton, and sometimes glasses.

How does your husband feel?
I have no problem with my husband. He is a kind and understanding young man. He is solidly behind me. Sometimes, he assists me financially and at my work. He is almost becoming my apprentice (she laughs).

For how long have you been in this trade?
Not quite long. I started it earlier this year. January to be specific, when more people showed interest in my products..

Apart from carpentry and woodwork, what other skills do you practice?

I also produce hair cream, body cream and balm.

How lucrative is it and what’s the level of patronage?
Word-work and carpentry is highly lucrative. It pays. Though young in the business or trade, so many people patronize me.

What are your parting thoughts?

The society is not only dynamic but also demanding. As time changes and new events unfold, there is need for people to move in the same trend with time. The era of women depending on their husbands is gone. The enormous family demands require that both the husband and the wife contribute squarely to sustain the family.

Moreover, the youths are to think out best ways of eliminating unemployment among them.

Underemployment may persist but unemployment can be eliminated through self development on skills and petty trading.

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