I Have Very Big Dreams For Charcoal Grill – Aisha
Mrs Aisha-Claire Alkali is married and blessed with four children. A graduate of English language from University of Jos, who runs a grill restaurant in Abuja. Her love for cooking started at a tender age of ten when she bakes pastries and sold to her family members. Her future prospect is to see Charcoal grill established in all states of the country and in other parts of Africa.
My name is Aisha-Claire Alkali, I was born on the 6th of November. I am from Plateau State. I am married to Architect John Alkali and blessed with four wonderful children. I attended Fatima Private School, Jos and St Louis College, Jos. I went to University of Maiduguri for my remedial and University of Jos, where I graduated in English Language. I worked with NICON Insurance Company for five years, then resigned to run my home and business.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
I baked pastries to sell to my family at the age of 10. My mum saw the passion in me and encouraged it. When I left work, I went into fabrics and fashion designing that I did for 10 years plus before I decided to follow my dream and passion which was to have a restaurant. I opened a fast food restaurant for seven years then closed to open a proper dinner, The Charcoal Grill, which is a restaurant that grills 70 per cent of its food including vegetables. The dream is to get it to the top and guarantee satisfaction to our customers.
YOUR EDGE OVER YOUR CONTEMPORARIES?
My edge is that I am very particular about what people eat, especially the ingredients we use. I try as much as possible to purchase more organic ingredients. I use good product such as oil and go extra miles to get fresh items from farmers I know their farm produce is without chemicals. I am sure not everyone in this business is particular about these. I have been in this business for sometime now and I know what it entails. My family and I eat there and it is very important to me what they eat, which is also what I serve people. Also, another big edge I have is cleanliness, you can walk into my kitchen anytime without notice and it’s sparkling clean, my staff have learnt over the years to be extremely neat with or without my supervision.
My challenges in business are enormous, just like any other business has its own. But for the restaurant business especially when you want to run it very well and the right way, you will face lots of challenges. For instance; challenges in dealing with staff, getting them to do things the way you want and in the right way. Secondly, challenges in the part of society, as I would always say, the environment is not too encouraging for entrepreneurs like us, in the sense that things are not working out for you, so you end up spending so much on things that pull you back, especially things like power, which is one of our greatest challenge and for this type of business that I do, power is everything, if you don’t have power, all the profit you make goes with diesel.
YOUR SECRET TIP
Attention to details is the first and the second. It is the fact that I am hands on and involved. It is not a business that I rely on others for the major things but one that I am involved, because it is all about my passion.
YOUR REGRETS IN LIFE?
I have no regrets in life, I am so grateful to God for everything He has done for me, for today, yesterday and what he would do tomorrow, I think I have every cause to thank God.
I don’t know whether to classify it as fear or dread but it takes a very long time for me to trust someone, I guess it’s a defence mechanism to avoid being disappointed easily, so I just have it at the back of my mind that nobody is perfect and it helps me flow with whatever comes my way but what I would regard as fear and dread most is the insecurity in the country, of course which is very natural with everyone in the country.
I love cooking, baking, travelling and entertaining children
YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD
Basically I admire people but my only mentor is God because He is the one I look up to.
YOUR MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)?
The birth of all my four kids were my most memorable moments.
YOUR EMBARASSING MOMENT?
Well, when you find me really embarrassed is when I am late for a meeting or function, I hate being late and I hate it when things go wrong especially when I am involved and that is quite embarrassing for me
YOUR 10 YEARS PROSPECT?
By God’s special grace, Charcoal will be in all states of the country and in other parts of Africa. I have very big dreams for charcoal grill and I think I am only in the second step, though I have not gotten to the first step of what I really want to do, but I am almost there.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR BUSINESS LIFE AND FAMILY
Placing my priority right is what I do, my family is first and fortunately I have been able to balance it by the special grace of God by planning my time. The beauty is that charcoal is very demanding and bigger than everything I have ever done and I thank God that charcoal came at the right time when all my children had left home for their school, so it was a bit easier but when they are home for holiday, I spend more time at home than my business place. My husband has been very understanding and encouraging, I really wouldn’t have done this without his loving support.
Listen to that inner voice, follow your passion and believe in the passion you have because when you go into a business you have passion for, that passion will sustain you when you are confronted with challenges and you will do it well because you are doing what you love. Focus more on where your strength is, seek God’s guidance and pursue it with all you have got.
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