They say the young shall grow, but 20 year old Sumayya is not waiting for old age before engraving her name in the sand of time. She has taken it upon herself as a teenager to be independent and be a tool for positive social change to her community. Young and disciplined, Sumayya is already becoming a beam of light
Can you please introduce yourself to us?
My name is Sumayya Umar Tofa, a resident of Kano state. I am twenty years old. I am a graduate of International studies. I am a spoken word artist, content writer, public speaker and also the founder of The Meraki.
Can you tell us about your background & how growing up was like to you?
I was born and brought up in Kano. I grew up in a quiet but good environment. I had access to good and quality education both western and Islamic as I come from a family that really valued knowledge.
How did your growing up motivate you and what impact did it have in shaping your person & personality?
Honestly, part of who I am now is attributed to the discipline I experienced in life and the exposure I had to different kinds of people. I was always taught to take responsibility as I had younger ones who looked up to me. Though, I believe my personality was shaped from within; by my perspective and construct of the environment around me.
You are a graduate of B.A International Studies, can you tell us a bit about your studies and school life?
Well, I first studied Political science at level one at Alqalam University in Katsina but i transferred to Northwest University Kano (now Yusuf Maitama Sule University) to start my second year, where I proceeded to graduate. I didn’t have much of a school life; I knew I was there for a purpose; to learn, and I don’t mean to just get a degree but to learn from people also.
My school days consisted of me getting in and getting out when I would do exactly what I was there for. I had a tightknit group of friends that were really older than I am but I had awesome memories with. I was mostly involved in departmental or faculty activities where I sometimes represented my school in events and other schools’ programs.
You are a content developer, spoken word artist, public speaker and founder of The Meraki NG; can you tell us more about your choice of profession?
Well, it started as a hobby and I learned a lot because I hang around people who know how these things worked. After writing my finals last year, while waiting for our results to be out, I had nothing doing. I couldn’t go for my NYSC because our results and certificate were delayed by the university. Within a few months, I learned to make my skills better. I found out that I enjoyed it. It gave a sense of purpose.
Did your being Muslim had any impact in making your professional choice?
No, it did not.
What are your principles in life?
I value loyalty, first and foremost. I don’t mean loyalty towards people only, but also loyalty to what is right, to responsibility and duty, to moral and ethical principles and so on. I also value independence, and free will.
When did you officially start The Meraki NG?
We started it on 5th June, 2020. It was during the lockdown period actually.
Can you tell us more about The Meraki NG?
The Meraki is a creative and digital agency based in Kano state. We use creative arts, design and digital technologies to give life to your ideas, brands, business or company, and enhance your digital world in a way that can help you better understand your strategies and processes as well as their impacts. Our company focuses on creating the best experience for our clients. We provide services such as branding, content creation, web design and management, digital marketing, social media strategy and so on. Our team members are the moving force of The Meraki. Please, visit us at http://www.themeraki.com.ng to know more.
In running The Meraki NG, what are the challenges that came your way and how did you handle them?
We have come across challenges such as funding, access to the right audience as well as dealing with untrusting clients.
For funding, we had to resort to equity funding which fortunately was a good idea.
For accessing the right audience, we had to up our game when it came to digital tools such as using SEO (search engine optimization).
For dealing with untrusting clients, we made sure that the end result spoke for itself.
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Has The Meraki NG been able to achieve what it’s set out to?
Well, as a startup, we have seen a substantiated amount of growth ever since we started. This gives up hope that our vision for The Meraki will be achieved in the next few years.
What future plans do you have for The Meraki NG?
We hope for it to be big and dynamic, not in size but in the value and solution that we offer to existing problems.
How do you handle competitors in your line of work?
We handle them the only way they need to be handled. That is, with professionalism and competitiveness. We view our competitors as an incentive to us achieving growth.
What is your business philosophy?
The philosophy of our business is built on these principles;
With your series of professions, how do you multitask and balance your personal life?
I have always had to multi-task because growing up all my life I have had to balance school, Islamiyya and house chores at a very young age. It became even more intense as I grew older. I do my best to give what I can to make things work for myself and others. Seeing as I have plans for furthering my career in international relations, I think and hope with strategic planning everything will fall into its rightful place. The key is having the right mindset, the right team and supporting family members.
What is/are your advice(s) for those who wish to become an entrepreneur or tow your path?
This: ‘Do not be scared to fail. If you do fail, it means you succeeded at trying. And that’s something‘. I grew up with the mindset that just because things go wrong does not mean it’s a bad thing. It just means you have learned how it could go wrong and will do things differently.
What is/are your advice(s) for young Muslimahs?
I understand that as females and Muslims, especially from Northern Nigeria, most of us aren’t really expected to have huge dream. I say this, Islam is not against it, as long as you stick to what is right and what is wrong. Take a chance, take the risk and just do it. What is meant to be will be.