How My successful catering business made me dump my banking job-OGHOR PROMISE
My name is Promise Oghor, I’m from Delta state. I studied Mathematics/ Economics at the University of Benin and graduated in 2001. By the grace of God, I’m the CEO/Chef at Boundless PICK Ltd. We offer professional catering services for all outdoor/indoor events and occasions of all sizes and shapes.
STARTING A CATERING BUSINESS…
After my graduation, I got a job with a bank and was posted to Awka, in 2005. I worked till November 2010 when I resigned as a cash officer. I resigned because my wife and I worked in the same bank. One of us had to resign so I chose to leave because I’m the more skilled person, I like to work with my hands. It would be easier for me to start up something…
WHY WAS IT A PROBLEM WORKING IN THE SAME BANK WITH YOUR WIFE?
It is the bank policy that a couple cannot be in the same bank to mitigate fraud, though we were in different departments. For malicious people, it would be very easy, and even tempting, to rob/defraud the bank. So you understand how that could be a problem. I left the banking job in 2010 and opened my catering business.
WHY CATERING? WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO GO INTO THE CATERING BUSINESS?
I love cooking. I just love it. It is one passion I have. That was why it was easy for me to decide on becoming a caterer. Cooking is something I do for fun. Even when I was with the bank or in school, I used to invite my friends over to my house and I would cook for them. That was even how I wooed some girls back then (laughs). It’s a part of me. I cooked my own food while I was in school because it was cheaper, richer and more delicious. I would tell my mom sometimes to leave the kitchen and I would cook for the house. It’s a passion.
When I left the bank, like every Nigerian, I had so many things in my mind I wanted to do. One of the first options I had at the time was MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) but it was not sustainable. Let’s tell ourselves the truth a lot of things are not sustainable in Nigeria, and I talked to myself and said I cannot be helping somebody else make money. A lot of people would say it’s a plan B but that was not a plan B for me because over time, you get jaded – you get fed up when the money is not coming. When your down-liners don’t perform, what do you do?
Again, I love fashion. There were so many things I would love to do if I knew how to sew. I went to a lot of fashion designers here and told them I wanted to learn. They were like: you? Learn? I said, ”yes, I want to learn. Forget about my appearance and style and everything, I want to learn how to sew” You know the problem with most Nigerians is we are too proud to do a lot of things. My salary at the bank then was good but I was willing to set aside everything and learn. That was my mindset at the time. Problem was, none of them wanted to teach me.
There had to be something I could do without spending an insane amount of money and that was why I started a catering business. My passion for cooking just made it easier and more fun. Catering funds itself. You want me to cook for you, you give me money and I cook. I didn’t need millions to start. My wife was shy at first (laughs) because she felt I should start big. However, I believe in little beginnings. She has been very supportive since she saw the prospect in food business.
HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT AT FIRST AND WHAT WERE SOME CHALLENGES YOU FACED?
The first job I got was from a friend of mine. He was skeptical at first but I said, “Give me a try…try me.” So he gave me the job and I executed it perfectly. I cooked rice. He gave ukwa (bread fruit) and bitterleaf soup to someone else because he was afraid I couldn’t do it. Funny enough, when people ate the rice and asked who cooked it, he said I was the one who did everything (laughs) because it was amazing. I started telling people gradually, child dedication, birthdays, and that was how my business kicked off.
I lost a lot of jobs because of experience and uncertain market factors. I experimented a lot.