It was a thing of joy for me to be counted among regular taxpayers in Kaduna State.
I am quite excited at the recognition by the (Kaduna Internal Revenue Service for paying one hundred-thousand-naira presumptive tax in 2020).
Many of my friends and well-wishers rejoiced with me and came to the shop to congratulate me. I remain grateful to the government.
I am also grateful to the youth and students’ group which gave me an entrepreneurship award.
My name is Zainab Isa.
I am from Gada Local Government Area of Sokoto State and was born in a village called Danboka.
My father, Habibu, and mother, Habiba, farmed millet and beans in Danboka. Both are late.
When my father died, his younger brother, Sani Isa, came to bring me here (Kaduna). He was a native authority policeman (Dan Doka).
I can neither remember the year he brought me to Kaduna nor my age then. But it was when Sir Ahmadu Bello (the Sardauna of Sokoto, was Premier of the Northern region).
So, when my father died and he came home to pay condolences, he brought me with him to Kaduna.
That is why I am bearing Zainab Isa.
I attended Qur’anic school.
I didn’t want my children to be hawking on the streets, so I told my (first) husband that I needed to have something to do.
I started with the business of selling fried yam and egg around Sardauna Memorial College (in Kaduna) but it was making waina that I preferred.
I told one woman in our area (Anguwan Dosa) that I wanted to learn how to make (the snack made from rice), so she took me to a particular woman. I can’t remember their names; it is a long time now.
Learning starts with how to mix the ingredients.
I can’t remember how long it took me to learn.
I can’t also remember when I started this business (but it should be about 30 years ago). I was already married and had children when I started.
My first husband died years ago and I remarried Adamu, my current husband.
I have six surviving children out of the nine – six girls, three boys – I gave birth to.
One boy and two girls are no more. The late boy was studying medicine at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. He died after his final year exams in 2020.
I have twenty-five grandchildren.
None of my children – all are married – is into this waina business, but they know how to make it.
I have twenty staff, most of whom are women. Some are widows or divorcees. Others are young boys who, instead of roaming around the streets, decided to come here and work to earn a living. My grandchildren also lend a helping hand.
We open here (at Anguwan Dosa Junction, near the headquarters of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Kaduna) for business by 7 am and close by 6 pm everyday.
I do not have any other business.
I cannot tell you how much I make a day. That is a secret now. Sometimes we make a lot, other times, you make little.
Whatever God gives you, be thankful.
But I can say that this business has helped me (and my family) beyond my expectations.
We can meet our basic needs without having to knock on somebody’s door to beg or ask for (financial assistance). What we get from the business is enough for us to meet our needs and even help others.
My customers cut across. They include top government officials and army, air force, and police officers (who either send their drivers to come and buy or come themselves) as well as ordinary people.
Our waina cost fifty naira for one, which is affordable to many people. Even as things have become expensive, we have not increased our price.
Many times, where there are major events we are contracted specially to supply waina. Special orders are also made when meetings are held.
There was once someone who flew from Lagos, saying they were holding a meeting and wanted our waina. We packaged it for him, and he flew back with it to Lagos. For anyone who wants to order, I can be reached at 09071800003,
Allah be praised.
Secrets of my success? I always make sure that my patrons are satisfied. All the time. I treat my customers with courtesy and dignity and be polite to them. I waste no time in apologising whenever there are issues even if I believe I am right. If you treat your customers nicely and you give them the best of what you do, the news will go round and more customers will come. So also, if you treat them shabbily or fight them, the news will also go round, and you are chasing others away.
I may not be educated but I can see the developmental activities (of the Kaduna State Government) and they encourage me to pay, and regularly.
I do not wait to be reminded.
I encourage others to do so too.
Many people seeking jobs come to me. Most of them are women who are divorcees or widows.
Things are very expensive in the market, but God has been helping us. It would not be a bad idea, however, to get loans for business expansion. I would not mind at all.
My message to the youths, both the educated ones and those who are not, is to learn some skills and be self-reliant. No matter how small you start a business, be determined and you will succeed.
For me, learning some skills is better than going to school to acquire certificates and at the end of the day, you are jobless and cannot meet your basic needs.
Many thanks to Rana Bayok in Kaduna for assistance with translation and photography