• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Enibukun Adebayo: Entrepreneur changing Nigeria’s laundry narrative

Nigeria’s laundry care industry to hit $8.94m in 2033

Enibukun Adebayo is the founder of Clean Ace, a dry cleaning business that operates in major cities across the country. He is also the founder of Clean Ace Academy, a training institute for upcoming drycleaners and launders.
Enibukun has many years of experience in the laundry business and was inspired to establish a dry cleaning academy to change the narrative in the country’s laundry business.
According to him, a lot of dry cleaners are not proud of their profession because of societal perception. As a result, most youth are not willing to take it up as a profession despite the huge potential in the business.
“I have always had in mind that I will train as many young people that are interested in dry cleaning business as possible, by making them proud of their profession. I want to make each of them proud to say ‘I am a dry cleaner and a washerman’ and would not see anybody brushing them aside,” he said.

READ ALSO: How Kingsley’s laundry business grew five-fold in one year

The washerman was also inspired to set up the academy to address the major challenge confronting the industry in the country, which is lack of a structural base that will enable it to thrive.
“The biggest challenge facing the industry is the lack of structure and association to promote an agenda. The academy focuses on providing a platform that can bring all the players together- from the vendors that provides the chemicals we use in dry cleaning to the washers themselves- to create that structure where activities in the industry will be regulated and checked. It is a step by step process,” Enibukun said.
“For businesses to thrive, there needs to be some measure of conglomerate energy and resources put together to be able to advocate, regulate, innovate and compete in a favourable positive manner though re-creative energy,” the dry cleaner stated.
The economist-turned-entrepreneur started his business in the early 1990’s. He learnt the skills of dry cleaning from his dad, who also learnt from his own dad at a very young age.

“As a child, I loved ironing and I always told myself that when I grew up I would be a washerman. I never loved washing but I loved ironing to the extent that my father’s friends on our streets would wash their clothes, starch and bring them for ironing during weekends,” he said.
“I would spend the whole of my Saturdays and Sundays ironing and I was never tried,” Enibukun added.
The entrepreneur told Start-Up Digest that he began to have a proper understanding of the limiting issues in the industry when he left his father laundry business to establish his own.
“Coming into the industry later, I began to see why young people are not interested in taking dry cleaning as a profession because it is not structured and the industry lacks formal training,” the entrepreneur said.
He noted that he was privileged to get the required training and skills needed for the business professionally before establishing Clean Ace in 1991, which was why his business became the first brand in the country and the continent with ISO certification.

READ ALSO :https://businessday.ng/maritime/article/kano-govt-boosts-dry-port-project-with-n2bn-infrastructure-2/

“Only few of us were privileged to go to England and America to train and learn dry cleaning professionally. I discovered that what I needed was business knowledge and business intelligence, so I went to the Lagos Business School and attended senior management programs,” Enibukun stated.

“Currently I am the alumni president in the past three years of Entrepreneurship Development Centre of LBS and over 50 thousand entrepreneurs have passed through the system.

“I also attended Stanford Business School of Silicon Valley in California and the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute in Maryland, America. I am one of the foremost achievers,” he added.
Enibukun has invested N48 million in the setting up of the laundry academy.
“I decided to set up a dry cleaning academy so that people interested in the business can learn dry cleaning professionally here, instead of going to America or Europe to learn it,” he further said.

“Initially, I wanted to partner with some foreign partners to set up the academy, but they all kept pulling back and I said to myself, ‘if the foreigners cannot help us, we can do it our self,” he stated.
“We are bringing in the latest technology and innovation into the academy and we would be training our students in the professional ways and methods of carrying out laundry.
“We would teach our students to understand fabrics and the temperatures of washing each of them and to have care labels because that was how the Americans grew their fashion industry. The academy is also working with some insurance companies to provide insurance cover for clients’ clothes,” Enibukun further said.
Enibukun told Start-Up-Digest that the Surulere axis was chosen as the location of the business because the bulk of the people involved in the business reside on the mainland and more Nigerians can be reached there.

He said that the academy will train students on entrepreneurship, leadership, sales, marketing, soft skills, special customer services, management, quality control, stain and removing, dry cleaning, and operation management, among others, and also assist some of the graduates through partnerships in establishing their own brands.
“Currently a lot of investments are wasting in the industry because people who went into the business were not properly guided. They just bought the equipment and commenced the business and after a while, the business collapsed,” he told Start-Up-Digest.
The entrepreneur stated that funding is not the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs in the country but the ability to start something small in a very good way and grow it.

 

Josephine Okojie