Joy Agbakoba – Taking women in business to the next level
Joy Agbakoba is the Managing Director of Travellers Haven, a high flying travel agency, which organises tours to exotic destinations.
The Edo born ex-Queen Idia College recently established a Whatsapp forum for women in business. Barely six months old, the Women Business Arena has over 500 registered members on the platforms.
Surprised at the success of what was an ‘accidental’ project, Joy is set to organise the first Christmas Fair for the group. Also, in the pipeline is a planned Directory, and a seminar to help participants take their business to the next level.
You are the founder of Women Business Arena, tell us why you set it up, and what has been the response so far
I decided to set up the Business Women Arena on the 27th of April as I was the goggle for many of my friends, especially those who are new in town or just relocated. I just discovered people called to ask for simple things like a contact for meat suppliers, makeup artists, fashion designers, caterer, event planners, cleaners etc. I decided to create a WhatsApp group to meet this need. From my phone contacts alone I came up with the 92 members. Those members told their friends who then requested to join. By mid-October, we hit the WhatsApp group limit of 256. As the demand increased for membership, we decided to start group 2, which currently stands at 70.
How does the platform work, and do you know everyone on the platform, personally
This platform enables Women Entrepreneurs to advertise their goods and services daily. A maximum of 4 adverts daily from each business is allowed. I know about 92 members of our community.
How do you ensure credibility and protection for participants
Credibility is not a problem, for those who are determined to succeed in business, because everyone on the platform got thereby referral. So far, a lot of transactions are taking place in our community, and we have not had a case of non-performance or fraud. We plan to keep it that way.
What are the rules and regulations guiding operators
. Rules governing membership are simple. There are membership fees. The platform is strictly for marketing our businesses, collaboration and networking. No jokes, prayers, birthday announcement or materials unrelated to our allowed companies. Such message we encourage the member to send to individuals and not to the platform. We remove violators after breaking the rules three times. Disputes arising are dealt with by Admin behind the scenes.
What businesses are on the platform. Is there any platform like yours on WhatsApp
I have never heard of any market place on WhatsApp groups. The platform covers various industries from agriculture, manufacturing, meat and fishmongers, fashion and fashion accessories, beauty, travel and tourism, hospitality, schools, spas, restaurants, caterers etc.
How much business is going daily? Is there a penalty for people who do not deliver on promises
I know that over 70% of members shop in the community. I do all my shopping there from grocery to fashion, lots of money change hands on the platform. Non-performing members will be removed. So far, we have not had a reason to exclude anyone.
You have a Christmas Fair coming up next month. Where is it taking place and what should people expect
Our Christmas Fair will take place at Standard Bearers School, Lekki. The proprietor of the school is a member of our community. You expect close to 200 exhibitors on the day showcasing their goods and service. There will be networking opportunities.
I see high growth potentials. We are leveraging on social media to create awareness of our existence. We recently created an Instagram page @womensbusinessarena. On our page, we have started profiling members of the community.
What about your business directory, where can one get it, and how many businesses will you showcase.
We are currently working out members Directory with close to 600 members by First quarter of 2020. Our Directory will be in major hotels, banks, and airport lounges across the nation.
What is the plan for growth and more visibility?
In the past few weeks, we have conducted Social Media Marketing training for members of in 4 centres across Lagos (Victoria Island, Ilupeju, Lekki and Ajah). There are plans to do the same from members in Abuja.
– Do you plan to help your vendors with how they can grow their businesses and also have access to funds
We plan to approach some banks for free training for members and seek to advise on what facilities are available to women in business. We certainly will take advantage of that to help women in our community.
Tell me about the tours you organize
We have carved out a nitch for ourselves with destination events both on land and on luxurious cruise ships.
what did you do before setting up the platform
What I have always done in the past 19 years is helping people see the world through Travel and Tourism.
In all your travels, which country has wowed you the most, and why
My favourite city in all my travels is Monaco.
It has an area of 2.020 km2 making it the second-smallest country in the world after Vatican City. Surrounded by mountain and the sea it is merely beautiful. Its population 38,682. With 19,009 inhabitants per square kilometre, it is the most densely populated sovereign state in the world. 30% of people are millionaires. 1% unemployment rate and a low crime rate. The average household owns a yacht and a fast car. Just a dinner/cruise, walk in the streets of Monte Carlo or on its sandy beaches completes my dream vacation. It is why I love Monaco.
What is your philosophy of life, what makes you happy?
Live, Life, Life is waiting for discovery.
What makes you happy?
Moments spent with my daughters and granddaughter.priceless.
Who is your role model, local and international
My role models are all the women around the world holding other women’s hands to the road to success
Finally, how do you feel when you see all the buying and selling going on the platform
I like to see others succeed so. Naturally, It gives me pleasure and a sense of fulfilment.