I ventured into street food selling after my husband left me, says graduate

By Terese Tse

A lot of people would imagine why a graduate of a lucrative course such as Entrepreneurship can decide to venture into selling food on the street despite demand from high profile employers to hire such an employee for an attractive office job.

While some believe that it is not really dependent about the class of degree or course of study, not even fanciful office but by what one can do to earn a living, others hold the notion that a beautiful woman with brains should not get involved in certain businesses that are considered to be of common class.

For Seember Mtseva, a thirty six year-old graduate of entrepreneurship from the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, she is happy and highly encouraged seeing women who involve in genuine businesses.

She detests sex for money and does not like women who are lazy and over dependent. Her life philosophy is that any legal business, no matter how small or common it may appear, so far as it fetches financial gains, is worth involving.

Mtseva who owns a popular food spot called Cater Restaurant in Makurdi, Benue State is a mother of one, a girl child. She is into mobile food selling business. She owns a tricycle and without shame, rides from one street to another, selling food. According to her, she has used the proceeds of the business to train her only child who is now a final year undergraduate.

According to her, she took to the business after her husband left her with a little child to cater for, and she was without any meaningful job. She said she was a victim of circumstance and had no option than to grasp any business that could enable her to fend, with her child.

Mrs. Mtseva poses in her tricycle

“Consequent upon our separation as husband and wife with my husband at a very trying time when our only blessed child in the marriage, Miss Susan Mtseva, who is now in her final year at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi was still pursuing her elementary education at the Kings and Queens Academy, Jos Plateau State, I was left alone as a single mother, to cater for all her needs and knowing that education is the key to achieving greater heights, I took up the challenge by doing everything genuinely possible, to ensuring that I sustained the formidable foundation that was laid for her education. It was for this reason that I ventured into this business,” Mtseva narrated.

She said before the divorce with her husband, she was a full time housewife and could only manage to sell second hand wares because of merge resources she invested into it.

“I was into the business of buying and selling second hand clothes. The patronage was chiefly credit based and so when I was greeted with that situation which I found myself, I swapped to sale of food and drinks which was more of cash and carry in order to overcome the  challenges of training my child and transform to modern living,” she explained.

She further revealed that she had once used her certificate to secure job with local government council but was later sacked, alongside others, due to change of government.

“Of course, I did use my certificate and secured a job with the local government which I worked for sometime before I was disengaged with other local government staff that were extricated from the local government sometime back and since then, I have been committed to my restaurant business.”

According to her, she has spent more than ten years in the mobile food selling business and that she started it with little money.

“For more than ten years now, I started with meagre resources by selling rice in a small tent that I erected by the road side.

“I did not in any way or anywhere receive any loan. Prayers, backed up with hard work, commitment and dedication, brought me to this present stage where I am today, to the glory of God,” Mtseva stated.

Counting her gains, Mtseva said out of the proceeds of her business, she was able to purchase a plot of land, train her child to university level, bought a tricycle and looking after many of her relatives.

“It might interest you to know that it is with this business that I’ve been able to sponsor my daughter up to her final year in the university. Not only that, the tricycle that I use for the business, the plot of land that I own, the house rent where I live, training of my nieces and nephews that are living with me and other assistance that I have been rendering to my relatives are all made possible as a result of this business,” Mtseva stated.

Narrating her ordeals, the mother of one said her major challenge in the business at the moment is lack of transportation to ease her movement. Also, she said lack of staff is hampering her business.

“I am aspiring to having a better means of transportation, such as a van or truck that would be accommodating more goods than the present tricycle which I use as the only means of transportation. With such a vehicle or vehicles, I will have a complete mobile kitchen with an oven and a freezer in it. With all of these, I will be transporting all varieties of foods to administer to customer’s dietary needs.

“But for now and since there is limited space in my tricycle, solid food is only available at the restaurant. I also plan to have all the drinks that I would be selling, branded with my business name such that it cannot be used by another business owner without my permission. I also hope to engage more manpower in order to expand the frontiers of my business by going into partnership with other women who are determined so that we can take the business to the next level.”

Noting further, she said: “One of the major challenges is the tricycle which I use to carrying out this business. It has not been in a good condition because I bought it as fairly use from the previous owner when it was used for commercial purpose. There are instances where I set out for the market and it develops fault holding me behind.

“One other challenge is the pressure from my customers but I must acknowledge the encouragement and advises that I keep receiving from my esteemed customers who are motivational and source of my strength at the same time but the demand is becoming very high for me to bear. Oftentimes, I’m confronted with orders placed by different people from different directions and meeting up with the urgency of these demands is puzzling which I don’t find easy.

“On several occasions, I had always wished that if it were possible, I would have split myself into many parts so as to respond to the incessant demands from my customers. I am occasionally hired to provide refreshments at weddings, and other ceremonies thereby making it more cumbersome for me especially in such situations where these calls come at the same time,” she narrated.

On the preventive measures employed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the cause of her business, she said “I go about with hand sanitizers that is at the disposal of my customers and wash my hands as regularly as possible in conformity with the guidelines set by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as wearing of face mask. I also try to keep a reasonable distance from my customers as I serve them in takeaway packages which are another deliberate step to avoid some physical contacts.

Insisting that her fellow women who are not lazy but determined can always succeed, she advised them to have confidence and believe in themselves.

“They (women) should have confidence in themselves, believe in their efforts and see themselves as full individuals capable of doing their own things rather than seen as appendages of other people. They should take delight in whatever they find themselves doing and be mindful of the fact that success is not determined by how we are being compared to others, but by what we are capable of doing,” she posited.

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