Pretty Ms. Fatimah Muhammed is the brain behind the famed ‘Unstoppable Handlers’, a hospitality outfit based in Lagos. She shares her business challenges and successes with RAHMAN IS’MAIL in this interview. Excerpt…
Barely two months ago, ‘Unstoppable Handlers’ was officially launched, what is your reaction?
It has been awesome and encouraging.
Immediately after the launching, you jetted out to the USA; was it in the course of this hospitality business or otherwise?
The trip to the United States of America was the combination of purposes. Purposefully, I went there for a conference in Simons business School at the Massachusetts University in Boston and after the conference I stopped over in New York to import some wines.
What is the significance of the conference?
It is a conference about women in government. There is an international organisation called ‘Wig Of Women In Government’. The organisation has a lot of leadership training courses for women in the world. The summit is rotational, this particular edition was held in USA. They do hold the summit in South Africa, United Kingdom and so on. Aside, we have an awarding event coming up in Dubai and I’m one of the awardees.
Were you sponsored by government functionary or your political party?
No! I wasn’t sponsored for the trip. I actually sponsored myself because the conference is more like a self-empowerment and human capacity building. I used the summit to upgrade my strength as an astute politician. It is a platform of garnering more knowledge and understanding about good governance and how to be the catalyst for such transformation in any capacity I might find myself in the nearest future. Because most people don’t know that politics is all about leadership and not for embezzlement. Politics is basically for qualitative service to the electorate. In summary, such summit prepared you for the challenge ahead of any visionary leader who’s willing to transform his or her environment because world best leaders among womenfolk are there to enlighten and inculcate you on how good governance could be achieved.
For you to have travelled down to USA for leadership summit at your own expense, should we believe there is an ulterior motive?
It is not all about having ulterior motive; it’s about understanding of government, lots of people who are vying for one electoral post or another don’t really know what government is all about. I invested my time, energy and money to prepare myself for whatever the future may bring forth. Some go into government purposely to enrich themselves but I can tell you that act of going to capacity building summit such as this will change your orientation about how government should be run, you will be taught the value of impacting yourself to the heart of the electorate. You will learn proper service on how to better their lives.
What political party do you belong to?
I’m a bona-fide member of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).
Is Madam Fatimah hell-bent on vying for a political post in the nearest future?
Every politician has one or two ambitions he or she is nursing. Apparently, I’ve my own ambition come 2019 by God’s grace. As you know, we just concluded election and new government just took over. So, let’s wait and see what they have to offer Nigerians and the direction we are going to follow in 2019.
What is your political strength within Alimosho Federal Constituency and Lagos at large?
When we are talking of strength politically, I would say I will be the first woman to be reckoned with because I’ve paid my dues.
What position have you held within your political party; perhaps you are a woman leader within your constituency?
I’ve held positions above that of a woman leader. I have coordinated several elections and I was more involved in empowerment programmes. In 2003, I was one of the leading team that spearheaded the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation, “BATCO”; I was in charge of Planning, Researching and Strategy department of BATCO then and the result was excellently awesome. In 2007, I was part of the coordinators of Jimi Agbaje outreach. The outreach was all about empowering and palliating people because I don’t believe in poverty eradication. We can’t eradicate poverty, we can only palliate the effect of poverty.
It is apparent that you’re a successful female politician even without holding any political seat yet. What inspired you to float hospitality business i.e Unstoppable Handlers?
I told you during the launching that I only turned my passion into profit making venture. I’ve passion for organising parties for people. I love details; I want to get into a party and have a touch of class. Politics is something that happens every four years and I just feel that for you to empower people, then you ought to empower yourself first by having a good financial base. Aside Unstoppable Handlers, I’m also into other businesses, I do get contracts of all sort.
What is the vacuum that Unstoppable Handlers has come to fill in hospitality business in Nigeria?
The caliber of wines we have in stock is what is going to reshape and give hospitality business in Nigeria a new look. Lots of people are used to American wines but I’ve gone far to source for wines in Italy. Italian wines are the best in the world. Their Red Wines and grape juice are the best. Some of their wines that we have in stock which you will hardly find elsewhere are: Rosso Wine, Giacobazzi, Donelli, Chamdor Fruit Wine, Wilderberry, St. Remy, Merlot, Kagor, Festa, Baileys Wine, Corona, Festa, Fragolino, Magic Moment, Villa Rocca, Torre Pietraia, Black and Red label, Campari, Pronta and tasty juices among which were: Varieties of Stute, Vitamix, Valfrutta as well as Donelli Canwine. All these wines are totally different and some of them are vintage wines. We also do Andre and Italian juice here at Unstoppable Handlers.
Are you saying you don’t have a competitor in the industry going by the caliber of products in your stock?
I don’t really believe much in competing with somebody. The way you run your lane is different from the way I run mine. The consumers are the ones to choose the quality and encourage the best with their massive patronage. I like healthy competition because the fact that you’re there before me doesn’t mean I won’t get there.
For any business to thrive in this contemporary world, premium value must be placed on social media platform, how are you managing your strength in term of awareness on internet?
Yeah, we have website which serves as our online stock where you can view what we have in stock and aside, we also have a page on facebook and other social media being managed by our online officers.
Who are your targets among the three classes in the society?
That is one thing I don’t like talking about because I really don’t believe much in class. I’m not a class freak person. The reason is because I believe in equality and being just and fair to all irrespective of your social status. We are open to all classes. I do champagne, branding and I have campari and red wine.
What is the purpose of your mobile bar?
Our mobile bar is purposely to put a stop to the idea of serving non-chilled drink at events. I have a shell that can cool your drinks for 36 hours.
Take us a bit into your family background
I’m from Maiduguri, Borno State. My father was a retired military man while mom was into business. I’m the second child of four children. I am a Micro-Biologist and I’ve been in politics since 1999.
Are you a fashionista?
I’m a simple person. As I told you earlier, I’m a northern girl so I’m a local girl, (laughing…..).
Are you married?
(Smile….) I’m neither married nor single and I’m not searching as well. I’ve beautiful children; both male and female. I think I’m a proud mother thou! (Laughing….)
What is your assessment of the new government in Lagos?
You will agree with me that Lagos is deteriorating and the development in Lagos State has been jeopardized going by the pace of insecurity. In recent time, there has been incessant record of armed-robbery cases. It was recently discovered that there was no water for people of Lagos State and the governor promised adequate water supply without any result yet.
Your message to your clients?
The message is that there is ongoing bonanza for December. The bonanza is a wonderful slashing of price of various products in our stock. And we started from 30th of November and it’s going to last till the end of the year.