When you think of ambitious and resilient women, think of Kawthar Alade-Idris. A woman on a mission of a positive imprint in the lives of people. The multipotentiality bares it all in this interview with At-Tareeq. Enjoy the read
Can you please introduce yourself to us?
My name is Mrs. Kawthar Alade-Idris. I am the Chief Executive Officer of the KAOTHAR FOODS. A Senior Partner at Corpsol Associate Nigeria, a Member of the Board of Advisory at Provisio Professional Services, and a Co-Founder of the Glad Tidings Project.
I am a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Consultant who has bagged many awards from the Academic and Professional Institutions I belong to. My background in Finance cut across the Auditing, Real Estate, and Automobile Industries.
I am married to an Amazing and very supportive man, who is my No1 Cheerleader and Mentor.
I am Ambitious, Resilient, Jovial, and a Lover of GOD.
My goal in life is to leave a positive imprint in the lives of people.
I am someone who loves to seek knowledge both in Islām and the secular world.
Can you tell us about your background & and what growing up was like for you?
I am from a family of 6. I am the only girl with 3 loving men as my brothers, Mā Shā Allāh, TabārakAllāh. Growing up was fun as I was constantly trying to prove to the men in the house that I can do whatever they can do and thanks to my father who trained me like a man.
My parents were very strict and always believe in merit. They don’t believe in shortcuts to success and this was a motivating factor for my siblings and me. We always aspire to be the best wherever we find ourselves and whenever the results of our efforts weren’t good enough, our parents always encourage us to stay focused on our goals.
Alhamdulillāh Rabbil ‘Ālamīn, I am blessed with a very loving and supportive family who are always there for me during the good and trying times of my life.
I can also say that my little knowledge of Islām has helped me to become a confident woman because I don’t focus on pleasing people, instead, I strive to please Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and this helps me not to be bothered about people’s opinion about me.
I am also lucky to have a good support system from family and friends. Though I maintain a very close circle of people I can trust. So, this helped my decision-making process while growing up.
How did growing up motivate you and what impact did it have in shaping your person & personality?
My parents are my role models after our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allāhu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam) and His companions (Radiy Allāhu An Humā). I learned improvising from my dad because he always encourages me to think outside the box while I learned the act of business from my mum because she’s a very industrious woman. Having said that, I had always wanted to be a career woman but I never knew Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, had written entrepreneurship in my Qadr (Destiny).
My father, being an Accountant, motivated me in pursuing a career in finance and with the help of Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, I have the necessary qualifications for the profession.
My background had a positive impact on shaping my life into the woman that I am today. I am someone who does not believe anything is impossible, I know with Allāh’s Grace, hard work, dedication, and perseverance you can achieve your dreams. My family will say “once she set her mind onto something, she makes sure she gets it irrespective of the challenges”.
Networking for me is important and this is why I cherish relationships, I believe that for every person you meet in life, there was a purpose why Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, made your paths cross. So, for that reason, I am like the politicians “no permanent friend, no permanent enemy.” I believe in building trust because you never can tell when you will need people.
Are you a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Consultant?
Yes, I worked in active employment for 8 years before resigning in 2020 to focus on my business
You became a Chartered Accountant at age 23, how does that make you feel as a Muslimah?
Alhamdulillāh Rabbil ‘Ālamīn. Well as a Muslimah it made me feel fulfilled that I was given the opportunity by my parents to achieve my dreams. It is not every girl-child in our society that has such support from their parents.
You were the best female student in the 2010 diet of CITN exams, how does that make you feel as a Muslimah?
Alhamdulillāh Rabbil ‘Ālamīn. This award was the defining moment in my life as I went through a lot before qualifying as a Chartered Tax Consultant but Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, crowned my efforts with success. It made me feel that nothing is impossible with Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and one just needs to have a firm Imān (faith) in HIM.
How long did you practice as a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Consultant and what areas of accounting are you specialized in?
8 years and I specialized in the Auditing, Tax, and Financial aspect
You are the CEO of KAOTHAR FOOD?
Yes, Mā Shā Allāh
When was it founded?
It was founded in 2017
As a Chartered Accountant, what inspired you to start KAOTHAR FOOD?
I wanted to make a positive impact in the industry and my background in finance helped me, most especially in the area of research. I had to dive deep into the causes of some problems in the industry and establish ways in solving them through my business.
KAOTHAR FOOD is 5 years, what challenges have you faced running the business and how did you overcome them?
Alhamdulillāh Rabbil ‘Ālamīn, we are a growing company and, hopefully, we will be here for the next 100 years In Shā Allāh.
Well as for challenges, It’s part of the sunnah of Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala. He has said that HE will test us to know who is best in deeds. So, whenever I am faced with any problem, HE is the first point of call, I talk to HIM and seek HIS guidance on how to resolve the matter as HE has said in the Quran that “No disaster strikes except by permission of Allāh. And whoever believes in Allāh, He will guide his heart. And Allāh is Knowing of all things (Q64 Ayat 11).”
The first challenge was sourcing the right vendors within the value chain that we operate in because my background was in finance and I knew nothing about the food industry then but we were able to solve this problem by joining various networks of professionals within the industry that we can trust.
The second challenge was customer acquisition. We wanted to adopt a B2B or B2B2C business model when we just started the business because of the volume of turnover that could bring which invariably is expected to help our cashflow but, unfortunately, most companies that we sent proposals to were not ready to give us a trial because we were new in the industry and didn’t know anybody that could refer us to them. So, we decided to change our strategy to B2C and that worked perfectly for us because we could get direct feedback from customers and also get referrals through word-of-mouth promotions to other prospective customers since they could attest that they got value for their money when they patronized us.
Lastly is access to non-interest finance. As you are aware Islām prohibits interest because of the uncertainty as to the success of a business which could invariably affect the debtor if the business fails. Because of this, we had to engage in other sources of finance through grants and investments from families and friends and this was why in 2020 we won a pitching competition organized by “Ibeauty Inspire” sponsored by SUNTRUST BANK LTD.
How have you stayed ahead of your competitors over the years?
We are constantly innovating and formulating premium quality products that serve the needs of different segments of consumers.
You were nominated for the Women in Agribusiness Awards, and you are among the Women in Africa 6th Edition 2022 finalists. How has that inspired you to do more?
Alhamdulillāh Rabbil ‘Ālamīn, I am grateful to Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, for the achievements so far and looking forward to more In Shā Allāh. This has inspired me to continue working hard because it shows that we are doing something great at KAOTHAR FOODS, which these different organizations saw in us.
KAOTHAR FOOD is relatively new in the industry but has achieved a lot; What is your proudest moment in all of your achievements?
My proudest moment is my nomination of being among the top 540 Female Entrepreneurs selected by the Women in Africa Philanthropy across the 54 countries in Africa, that for me is something I hold very dear and I’m grateful for.
What is your life goal for KAOTHAR FOOD?
To help the world live productively through the consumption of safe and healthy foods
What is your business philosophy?
To build trust and confidence in the hearts of our stakeholders (Customers, Staff, and Investors)
You are a Co-founder of Glad Tidings Project?
When was the Glad Tidings Project founded?
What’s the Glad Tidings Project all about?
We are an Islamic NGO whose mission is to put smiles on people’s faces during their trying times. We engage in monthly visitation to hospitals, correctional centers, and orphanage homes. It also empowers women and supports orphans in the areas of education and clothing.
What challenges have you faced running the Glad Tidings Project and how did you overcome them?
I can say that each project we’ve embarked on comes with its challenges but we focus on the fact that we aim to please Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala. We overcome them through the help of Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and also contributions from team members on the best ways to achieve the set goals.
What are the bigger pictures for the Glad Tidings Project?
Our bigger goal is to extend our hands of charity across Nigeria and Africa because Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has given us this assignment to give succor to people during their difficult moments.
What is/are your advice(s) for those who wish to become an entrepreneur?
Firstly, you need to ask yourself the sincere question of why you want to be an entrepreneur because it is a lonely journey that needs passion, hard work, and perseverance to achieve one’s goal.
Secondly, you need to understand that you have to continuously develop yourself if you want to stay relevant. Like they say, “You either evolve or die.”
Lastly, as an entrepreneur, you can change the situation of a lot of people’s lives by providing employment and solving societal problems. So, always build trust and be part of the people who changed the narrative of Nigeria and Africa positively.
What is your advice to young Muslims?
The best role model you can have is Rasῡlullāh, ﷺ. Please study His Sērah (Biography) and I’m sure you will find things to emulate that will encourage you to be a better Muslim and be proud of Islām because this religion solves all problems.
Please aspire to be the best in whatever you do and always remember that you are an ambassador of Islām. We are the best of nations as Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has praised us to be an Ummah who enjoins that which is good and forbids evil.
Also, note that for every effort you make in your religion or livelihood, once it’s for the sake of Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, you will be rewarded irrespective of the final result of your attempt.
Lastly, remember that shaitan has promised to mislead mankind but Allāh, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has promised us forgiveness and great bounty. So, no matter your sin always seek Allāh’s forgiveness and strive towards doing good, and Bi idhnillāh your soul will find inner peace. Jazāk Allāhu Khairan.