Have you paid to have a call made to your loved one, to apologise, congratulate them or tell them you love them? Then you would have spoken to Jennifer or some other ‘call-preneurs’ in Nigeria.
Growing up with a business mindset, 22-year-old Jennifer Egwudike graduated recently from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, with a discipline in English Education, but even this has not hindered her pursuit of running a business.
Jennifer is the CEO of an online call brand, the CMJ Moment Centre, which offers services such as birthday celebration calls, apology calls, appreciation calls, congratulatory calls, encouragement calls, and prank/loyalty calls among others.
PT: When did you make that decision, ‘I want to be an entrepreneur’? Were there factors that led to that?
Jennifer: Right from when I knew my right from left, I’ve always been business-centred.
My mom once left her business and travelled for a week and I made thousands of naira as far back as 2012. She was perplexed because she never fathomed the worth of goods in the shop would amount to that.
During my undergraduate days, I was known as the most industrious business lady, I sold kerosene in the school hostel, helped students up their nails game, and sold cosmetics and a couple of things to keep body and soul together.
When I started my call brand in 2022 and it was not going well, I re-strategised and one time during the Valentine’s period, I had close to 300 call orders and I said to myself, “You see this call business, I die here.”
PT: You just got out of school. The usual expectation is that you start sending out your CVs. Were your family members in support of your decision?
Jennifer: They were partially in support. I must say, to some of them, I was wasting my time on social media posting what they could not fathom.
My Grandma once asked me if I was working with MTN because I’m always on call all through the day not until she saw me making a call to a client and she loved the process. Ever since then, her perspective of my business changed.
Now, they’re in total support, unlike when I started.
PT: You run a unique type of business, a call agency if I can put it that way. What inspired this business?
Jennifer: The reply to this question would be funny. ‘Breakfast’, normal parlance to heartbreak, birthed the brand.
I was going through a tough time in my relationship, and finally, we broke up, I was in a very bad state for a long time.
I decided to start something that would help people mend their relationships, more like a confidential centre where people can rely on their heartfelt wishes and requests, while I serve as a bridge between them and their loved ones.
So, that was how the brand came into being.
PT: How long have you been running it, and how has the journey been? What is doing business in Nigeria like?
Jennifer: I started CMJ MOMENT CENTER on January 15, 2022, so the brand is one year and seven months.
The journey, I must say, has been bittersweet I must confess, especially the fact that my brand is online-centered and sometimes getting clients can be challenging. Some days you’ll record massive bookings, some days, very few, but one sweet aspect of the service is that if you’re good, you’ll be getting referrals, especially from your old clients.
Running a business in a country like Nigeria is not easy, especially for my brand.
You must be emotionally available to face challenges because it’s inevitable. If transportation doesn’t disappoint, the system will disrupt your process.
PT: What are the major challenges in this line of business, and how were you able to overcome them?
Jennifer: My biggest challenge is the network challenge.
I now have all the network packages, in case MTN fails me, GLO might come to my rescue.
The challenges I’m having are visibility and network. My niche is relatively new and only a few people know about it, so to reach a wider audience, I now run influencer marketing and sponsored ads.
Talking about the network challenge, for most international call orders, I get requests for WhatsApp calls instead of the normal call. Sometimes, network here can be challenging. What I did was to get multiple sims, anyone more favourable, I use for the time being.
Another challenge I’ve been facing is rude clients. You’re surprised, right?
Some clients think that once they pay for your services, they have the right to use demeaning words on you, but I confront them with kindness and before you know what’s happening, they comport themselves. Everything about me is positive vibes and energy. I don’t entertain negativity.
It has been amazing. Regardless of the ups and downs, I love my job so much.
PT: Is there any story to your business name? Just curious.
Jennifer: CMJ MOMENT CENTER is a coinage from my Aunty, Dad and my name. Both are late.
C stands for Chiamaka (Aunt’s), while M stands for Maduaka (Dad’s).
I named it after them because they wanted the best for me while alive and I’m sure they’re proud of me wherever they’re.
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Moment Center on the other hand is a place where we help you with your emotional needs and requests.
PT: On a scale of 1-10, how open do you think Nigerians are to having a call agency reach out to their loved ones instead of doing so themselves?
Jennifer: I would rate it seven. People are accommodating the service already.
The acceptance level is mind-blowing because not everyone gets birthday gifts from their friends for various reasons but seeing us call them, gives them another level of love and security.
Tell me who doesn’t love surprises?
People love our services.
PT: What is the ‘starter pack’ for this kind of business, what is the barest minimum requirement to start this business?
Jennifer: You don’t need much to start a call brand, interestingly. I started with less than 10k in my account in 2022 and here am I today.
If you’re good with marketing, storytelling and copywriting, you’re good to go.
PT: What advice do you have for young people who seek to start this line of business?
Jennifer: My advice to them is to stay consistent and focused and learn marketing skills. It would help them in showcasing their brands to people.
PT: How do you strike a balance between your time and your businesses?
Jennifer: I have opening hours for the brand, I open by 7 a.m. and close by 10 p.m. and any calls outside those time frames warrant an extra charge.
I have more birthday calls than other calls and I make them in the morning, create content online and go about my other activities.
PT: How do you think the government can solve some of the challenges of the entrepreneurs in this line of business?
Jennifer: If they can bring down call tariffs, it would favour us the more.
PT: Where do you see your business in five years?
Jennifer: In five years, my brand would have expanded. I will start offline birthday gift delivery and have a studio for my call brand.
PT: If you were to get a grant, how would you invest it?
Jennifer: I would invest in online and offline advertisement.
Ask anyone doing online business the challenge they face, and most will chorus visibility, especially if they are still growing and with few followers.
Sponsored ads these days are getting more rigid and the higher your budget, the better the result. The grant will aid me in reaching more people and preaching the gospel of my brand faster.
PT: How would you describe your experience so far?
Jennifer: It has been amazing. Regardless of the ups and downs, I love my job so much.
PT: After such a tight schedule, how do you relax? What is your hobby?
Jennifer: I watch YouTube a lot. I hang out with friends and sometimes I go to the studio to take pictures, lol. I’m a picture freak.
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