These recent years have seen young Nigerians displayed unimaginable ingenuity in business. Among these successful Gen-Z entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Aderinsola Omirin stands out with a difference. She has continued to prove that age is not a deterrent to success. Her strides in the footwear industry have earned her recognition from reputable institutions in the country. She received two 25 under 25 awards from the SME 100’s – a platform that celebrates and recognizes innovative startups – in recognition of her contribution to the manufacturing and logistics category, and what she has been able to achieve in a few years in business.
The 21-year-old Omirin was born on the 3rd of July 2001 in Lagos, Nigeria. She came to the limelight when she became a CEO at the young age of 17, while she was still an undergraduate student of Covenant University.
Unlike several undergraduates who believed in waiting to get a degree before venturing into the labor market, Aderinsola took the bull by the horns and launched her handmade footwear company, Sola Soles. Her success can be traced to multiple factors, including the successful entrepreneurs she adopted as role model – Ibukun Awosika, Tara Fela-Durotoye, Michelle Obama, and Nelly Agbogu.
How she started
While she was still in her second year at the university, Aderinsola decided to start a brand that would make and sell footwears to the local and global market. She saved up on her pocket money and with support from her parents, she got started. She also set out to learn more about business management.
“I sourced necessary materials through books, videos, and online courses. I worked in the footsteps of experienced people in my field, investing in myself”, she said in an interview with Business Day.
In just a year of manufacturing her sandal designs under the brand – Sola Soles, Aderinsola made her first million in sales, technically becoming a millionaire at the age of 18. By her fourth year in the university, her product had reached all 36 states in Nigeria, plus FCT even though the brand was barely 3-years old at the time.
Despite Aderinsola’s zeal to disrupt the footwear industry, she faced several challenges as a student.
“In Covenant University, we do not use phones and hardly leave the school, which contributed to the challenges I faced”, she said while explaining her attempts to manage business with school work, in an interview with Business Day.
She also added in one of her Instagram captions that there was limited access to the internet and maintaining a business became super tasking.
She recognized her elder sister as one of the major pivotal in driving her business to the success arena. While she had limited access to her customers, her sister had assisted in performing vital activities like receiving orders and email, and shipping.
Another obstacle she had to surmount was the importation of raw materials from other countries. According to her, sourcing for raw materials had put her in a tight corner due to Forex volatility. However, she addressed the situation with her business acumen by sourcing and purchasing raw materials locally.
Developmental Initiative & other services
Aderinsola launched the Startup Space initiative to help University graduates and entrepreneurs who find it uneasy to get jobs or support for their startups.
She developed the program to help other entrepreneurs tackle the country’s high unemployment rate. Since she opened her new company’s website in July 2020, the company has had over 17,000 sessions in different parts of Nigeria and abroad.
“I am so intentional about building capacity to maximize my lifetime and most, especially my youth because this is the foundational stage where years to come would stand. Being a committed entrepreneur from a very young age has placed me on a pedestal of capacity building, and it only gets better every day with the right circle,” she noted in one of her Instagram captions.
She has also been invited to speak in various capacities to encourage young entrepreneurs. According to her, “the difference between you and that person who is doing well could just be that they never stop! It may not make sense right now, but do it anyway! Consistency is the rule of the game.”
She won the entrepreneur of the 16th set at Covenant University when she graduated in 2021.
With the knowledge that she had acquired by taking courses and walking in the paths of her mentors, she developed systems that do not require her presence to sell her products. One could say she had mastered expert marketing skills through the strategic positioning of people and resources.
Through these systems, she has recorded over 22,000 sessions from over 47 countries in the world on Shopify. She has also produced over 19,000 pairs of footwear for wholesalers, marketers, etc.
Entrepreneurship does not have to be an after-school journey. Anybody can attain a level of accomplishment when they put in the recipe for success. Like Aderinsola took the initiative to build on her passion and fulfill her dreams even as an undergraduate, anything can be possible when trying and never giving up.