Mercy Udom’s entrepreneurial pursuits began in Nigeria at an early age as a primary school kid when she engaged in sales as a petty trader for herself also giving her mother a helping hand in running her businesses. Her work as the country representative and Executive manager of Globemed International for Nigeria gave her extensive exposure and honed her entrepreneurial skills as she also ran personal business interests in parallel. Mercy has a big heart for the people and is always eager to support the masses. Therefore, she ventures into Training, Re-Training through capacity-building seminars and workshops for fellow entrepreneurs and businesses. Her passion to teach and empower sees her reaching out to schools to give successful motivation seminars and academic coaching workshops. She is passionate about personal development and helping people to become financially included in society, and increasing their standard of living, upskill them in their micro-businesses.
What are the challenges and experiences in your life that have influenced who and what you are today?
I would say that the circumstances of my birth and upbringing have played a very significant role in molding and shaping me to be the person that I am today. I am my mother’s sixth child and I grew up to know her constant struggles as a single parent, managing to raise all of us her biological children as well as other children that she adopted by default from our traditional extended family structure.
Looking back, I can attest that even though my mother managed to provide for us so that we never went to bed hungry, mine could not be said to be the proverbial picture of being born and fed with the silver spoon. Real economic pressures dictated that we had to make do with essentials and to do without the frills that attended the experiences of other children as they grew up.
My mother is an amazing and enterprising woman. We grew up knowing her to keep her regular day job with the government, but survival pressures dictated that she would start her days well before dawn, preparing confectionaries for supply to retail outlets. If not confectionaries and the like, she would be traveling to source goods for supplies. She seemed to have had her hand in every kind of pie, just to make ends meet. But she did more than just make ends meet. She took care of all of us, her biological children, and as I recall, there was once a season in our home that we had twenty-one children being accommodated, fed, clothed, and drawing school fees and upkeep from my mother.
My mother was a disciplinarian, appreciating the value of the gift of time and also having her children in line, even with the demands on her time. These values and disciplines effectively shaped my personality as I grew up. I was soon to realise that I was a person of value and that I too can exchange my time for money. My home setting soon made me appreciate the value of money and I also, following my mother’s footsteps, could locate opportunities for gainful exchange. One recollection of my earliest business ventures as a pre-teen is going to buy a bag of oranges from a bulk produce market to retail in my neighbourhood at great profit.
As I grew up, my confidence and self-assurance in approaching and undertaking entrepreneurial ventures grew and matured. I had parental support in my early, foundational education. But it can be assumed that I had to work and support my acquisition of tertiary education. But then, my mother was a veritable example that working and schooling were a possibility.
I suppose that my upbringing had uniquely prepared me for my marriage. Again, my marriage is special and unique: getting to marry a widower, being an instant mother to teenagers, and also being blessed to raise my biological children at the same time. Wife, mother, and homemaker. I had to do and be all of these in a foreign land and what I could term a hostile environment. Marriage and motherhood in these circumstances have had their mark on me, initially placing me on a forced sabbatical away from the business. I have had to renew my focus and steadily work on returning to my passion, entrepreneurship, and business. I am confident that I will make it to thriving.
Who was an inspiration for you to open your own business?
It is obvious from the personal experience that I have narrated above that opening my business was a natural fall-back position for me. The preferential employment policies here placed me at a disadvantage, being a foreigner. Also, my unique circumstances of raising a family dictated certain flexibility of timing to ensure that the demands of work would not be detrimental to my home. As stated above my mother was the chief inspiration, and my recent association with the GWC platform has helped to fuel the fire.
What is your business and how have you developed it?
My business covers a broad spectrum of services ranging from management consulting to manufacturing. These operate under two registered entities in Nigeria, First OMCY and Bliss Scents as well as two entities also in South Africa namely, ECU Solutions and 1st MCY Pty Ltd.
• Management Consulting / Support
• Investment Brokerage
1. Real Estate
2. Venture Capital
• African Fashion Design and Image Consulting
• Personal Care Products Manufacturing
• Events Speaking
These ventures are still evolving and developing, but they are all under my personal management and oversight.
How do you see your business from a global perspective?
The fact that I can operate my business on a global platform is a subject that goes beyond mere musing to a reality that I can pursue and attain. I am a Nigerian woman in a foreign country and settling. We are living in an exciting age of advanced communications that have shrunk the world to a small village. My social and professional networks reach many countries and it is my aspiration to develop my product and services for the local and international markets, leveraging on my networks. I aspire to see my business taking advantage of the efficiencies and competitive cost advantages as well as potential access to international/global
funding opportunities that globalisation offers. We could outsource across the global platform, taking advantage of the knowledge and best practices. The potential for a better return on investment that the global setting offers is very desirable. I am currently operating effectively from two countries and the potential for a global reach looks very enticing and desirable.
Do you believe that we can turn our weaknesses to strengths? And how can we do this?
Growth and development are constant struggles sometimes beset by weaknesses. Such weakness could be identified as limited reach and customer recognition. Yes, I believe that association with the GWC can turn my weaknesses into strengths. Yours is an organisation that is known for excellence. You can give strength in many ways, some of which are:
• Endorsement: Your endorsement of my person and business would give a qualified boost to our image.
• Branding: Also, your endorsement and featuring of your brand would give a great boost to our brand.
• Empowerment through your Platform: Engagement with your platform offers potential for networking with persons of global acclaim and infusion of excellence and best practices through your various offerings.
As a businesswoman what are the biggest challenges that you face now?
• Balancing business and family life. This seems to be a never-ending challenge, both demanding 100% input.
• Limited funding: there is so much that could be done but so many funding constraints.
• Dealing with and defying social expectations.
• Having to build a dependable support network.
• Having to deal with xenophobia and other forms of discrimination as a foreigner.
• Dealing with fear of failure and affirming success.
Is your client list mainly women or have you also worked with men? If both, in your experience, what’s the difference between coaching women versus men?
My clients and partners are both men and women. We also work with the youth. In comparison, women tend to be more open to coaching and new ways of doing things. They are more teachable and willing to try new techniques, take risks especially if it will help them perform better, make a better living. Males: Male tend to be more convinced
(and sometimes deluded) of their own prowess, and are therefore often less teachable, shy, and are not easily agreeable. Some avoid taking risks.