When experienced pharmacist ‘Fayo Williams set up Rely Supply in 1991 to provide first aid kits and health and safety training to businesses, little did she know that she’d also end up providing assistance of a different kind to Africa’s SMEs. The double business founder also spearheads Simply Exponential Consult, a training and development company that helps people and organisations realise their potential to achieve success. This business draws on ‘Fayo’s skills and experience in setting up her first, very successful venture.
Getting the message across
“Being a pharmacist, I saw the need for first aid and safety training quite clearly,” she explains. “I founded Rely Supply because there was a gap in the market for health and safety services. Not many people took health and safety seriously, but I saw that as an opportunity.” Changing societal perceptions proved to be one of ‘Fayo’s first major business challenges, but she used her extensive knowledge and insight as an experienced pharmacist to lend credibility to her business message.
And she gradually got her health and safety message across, loudly and clearly. How? For ‘Fayo, it was all about being organised, consistent and strategic. “I engaged with mentors who helped me manage my own mindset and got training from organisations like Empretec Nigeria and Enterprise Development Center,” she explains. All the time, she was developing her business’ values and approach. “Customer is king,” she says. “My customers are my main focus and the reason Rely Supply exists.” Those customers include Access Bank plc, one of Africa’s leading financial institutions where over 500 employees have now received health and safety training, and Nigeria’s National Electoral Agency which was supplied with 15,000 Rely Supply first aid kits.
Practical support for SMEs
Now, as founder of Simply Exponential Consult, ‘Fayo is sharing all that she’s learned about building a successful business with entrepreneurs and SMEs. The business recently participated in the World Bank-funded Growth and Employment in States (GEMS) project, which aims to create at least 100,000 jobs in high-potential sectors outside of the oil industry. The project also promotes female employment in traditionally male industries like construction.
‘Fayo regularly leads training sessions, consults and speaks on topics like preparing a business plan, securing funding and effective business management, aspects that are especially critical to Nigeria’s female entrepreneurs. “Challenges like getting access to finance can be daunting,” she points out. ‘Fayo helps entrepreneurs overcome these setbacks by offering not only practical guidance but also a role model of someone who’s succeeded in overcoming such challenges herself. She has found Instagram to be the perfect platform from which to connect with women, share her wisdom and promote her training sessions.
Encouraging women in business
Today, ‘Fayo employs 8 women across her businesses and she cites their intuition, attention to detail and negotiation skills as valuable qualities they bring to every part of the business. “Organisations should give women a place from the boardroom to the shop floor to acquire a 360 degree outlook in the workplace,” says ‘Fayo. She’s now committed to helping more women follow their entrepreneurial dreams. By working closely with female-centric business organisations like NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women (of which ‘Fayo is first Vice President) and United Women in Agriculture Cluster (UWAICI), ‘Fayo is able to spread the word and offer support the kind of vital support she received from her own network of mentors and role models in those vital early stages.
So what’s the first piece of advice ‘Fayo would offer a woman looking to get started in business? “The first step is to capture your dream in a business plan. Make sure that you have a product or service that you’re passionate about and that people need.”
Learn more about ‘Fayo, Rely Supply and Simply Exponential Consult: