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From Mega Plaza to Game, Grand Square, Wheatbaker, Sheraton… Meet the Shecluded Woman Who is the Foremost Interior Decorator & Manufacturer of Luxury Beddings, Curtains, and other Soft Furnishings for Top Retailers, Hoteliers, and Developers

We love to showcase our rich African heritage and tell our stories by using beautiful locally manufactured Textiles such as Adire, Akwete, Akwa Ocha, and many others.

We ethically offtake from the rural women, providing them access to international markets while enabling adequately monetise their craft.

Using this initiative, we are able to preserve and export our Heritage for the Diaspora, empowering the women and the communities that produce these exotic fabrics economically.

Our Shecluded Shero Feature today is Uchenna Ibe. She is the founder and CEO of Ivy League Collections LTD. Which specializes in the design, production, sales, and distribution of ready-to-use home furnishings across Nigeria in over twenty retail stores. Her company deals with theme design, and contract manufacturing for hotels, stores, and organizations. Through secure, convenient, and affordable partnerships with superstores and corporate turnkey interiors, she bridges the gap in accessing soft furnishing products and accessories.

Among her clients are GAME stores, Mega Plaza, Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi, Sheraton Hotel, NEXT Cash and Carry, Oasis Super Stores, Winnie Super Market, Grand Square, and others. As well as being part of the soft furnishings design team for Big Brother House 2019, Uchenna appeared on BOI Impact’s TV series titled “Successful SMEs in Design and Manufacturing”.

She is an alumna of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs and the Cheri Blair Foundation Business Women’s Academy, A WIMBIZ Mentor, and the Country leader for AWEC ( African women Entrepreneurship Cooperative), ImpactHER Nigerian Ambassador, Goldman Sachs Alumna. She holds a Certification in Women’s Entrepreneurship from Cornell University, USA.

A Marriage and Family counselor ( Catholic University of Notre Dame. Indiana, USA ). She serves as a Member of the FHLU Management Board( Family and human life unit ) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos. A Deanery Representative for the Maryland Deanery of Family and Human life unit ( FHLU).

She also serves on the Catholic Archdiocesan Board of Counselors as a Marriage and Family Counselor.

A fitness Enthusiast and healthy lifestyle advocate. She supports and lends her voice to creating awareness on early detection of Breast Cancer and supports NGOs doing such with fundraising and other assistance.

She is married to the most amazing man for 30 years and is mother to the 4 most beautiful young adults.

Uchenna believes life is a blessing and love should be showered like confetti.

This is the perfect weekend read to inspire, motivate and ginger you for the coming week. Enjoy. Do not forget to leave a comment.

Describe yourself in 3 Words

Focused, Indefatigable, Iconic

What is your business name? Give a brief description of your business

Ivy League Collections ltd is an Interior design and soft furnishing manufacturing company based in Lagos. We design, manufacture, and sell ready-to-use home furnishings throughout retail stores Nationwide in categories such as bed linens and related items.

We love to showcase our rich African heritage and tell our stories by using beautiful locally manufactured Textiles such as Adire, Akwete, Akwa Ocha, and many others.

We ethically offtake from the rural women, this provides them access to international markets enabling them to get value for their skills. We also collaborate with them to recreate stories of these appealing textiles and prints.

We are positioned through this initiative for the Diaspora so that our Heritage lives on and is even exported, with a strong focus on the economic empowerment of the women and the community that produce them.

What inspired you to become a businesswoman?

While furnishing my house in 2003, I found to my dismay that there were few options for quality, luxurious soft furnishings in Nigeria. Making mine was the only option and thankfully, I had previously learned interior decoration from my sister as well as during the National Youth Service Corps program, so I knew exactly what to do. By the time I was done with my house everyone wanted me to redecorate their homes for them. Quickly realizing that interior decoration was a viable business in Nigeria and started with home furnishing for friends and family. I officially launched the business in 2006.

Furthermore, the business has a strong focus on training and empowering young women. We are passionate about women. We train and employ young women, in interior decorating, Space Management, Feng Shui principles in Spaces, and soft furnishing skills, and retain them as paid employees. For those, we cannot retain we consistently refer them to potential clients after they complete the training. This is a core aspect of our business – Creating a positive impact in the lives of young women by empowering and employing them.

How would you describe running a business in Nigeria?

Running a business in Nigeria is very tough and the ease of doing business in Nigeria is less than 20%. Inconsistent government policies and political influences have not allowed the business landscape to thrive.

Sometimes it’s as though the system is working against us but this goes to show that Nigerian entrepreneurs are resilient! Even as we thrive under the present circumstances, imagine what we could achieve with better governance.

What are some of the milestones/achievements your business has made since its inception?

We have been in business for 16 Years!!!! That’s a huge milestone. Other business and personal achievements that we are so proud of include:

  • Feature on the Bank of Industry (BOI) Impact program on Women in Manufacturing and Design, as a leading SME in the manufacturing and Interior space.
  • Ranked first for the past 16 years in GAME stores, Next Cash, and Carry superstores Abuja and Port Harcourt.
  • We have empowered and trained 212 women and men in acquiring tailoring and design skills.
  • 25 permanent staff and 6 marketers in 12 States throughout Nigeria. Our Goods have served the needs of over 500,000 households and counting.
  • Being part of the soft furnishings design team for Big Brother House 2019
  • Academy of Women Entrepreneurs, AWE Alumna, A US Exchange program
  • Alumna, Cheri Blair Foundation Road to Growth Program at Enterprise for Women Development ( EDC)
  • Associate Member WIMBIZ
  • A WIMBIZ Mentor
  • Country Leader for AWEC ( African women Entrepreneurship Cooperative)
  • ImpactHER Nigerian Ambassador
  • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Alumna.
  • An alumna of Cornell University Bank of America Institute of Women’s Entrepreneurship.
  • Cherie Blair Road to Growth Program Alumna at Enterprise for Women Development, EDC
  • SMEng She Works Here Alumna
  • Inspired Women of Worth wow Leadership Alumna
  • and MBA from Walden University with a Specialization in Entrepreneurship

How is your business impacting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

SDG 1 – We contribute our quota on ending poverty in all its forms by proving women textile manufacturers in rural areas with means of livelihood to ensure that they can contribute to the upkeep of their children.

SDG 5 – We have economically empowered 212 women and girls by training them in the design, tailoring, and production of soft furnishing products. With these skills, they have been able to become financially independent.

SDG 8 – We promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

SDG 13 – The impact of climate change on our entire civilization is already evident and will be catastrophic if we don’t act now by adapting reusable textile waste management and circularity processes thereby reducing textile waste from being pushed back into the environment.

We are passionate about operating and creating a more Circular economy where our waste textile and that of other Textile users are used in creating beautiful art pieces and Home furnishings products, reducing waste and generating more revenue while being environmentally conscious.

How did you raise funding before Shecluded?

We took Loans from BOI Women’s Gender Department and overdrafts from Commercial banks. We Have also taken loans from Shecluded for our purchase of raw materials.

What was your perspective on business loans before Shecluded?

I was very wary of Business loans till I understood the value of money and the importance of cash flow in a business. I believe loans are a means to an end and should only be taken and used responsibly when needed to avoid destroying your creditworthiness. Loans must be used for specific purposes and should be paid back on schedule.

How has taking a Shecluded loan impacted your business?

It was timely and the speed of the process is commendable. A good source of funding for MSMEs. Shecluded has enabled us to fulfill many Job orders, through their quick and accessible inventory financing loan product.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you first started?

There are so many grants available to small businesses in Africa. I wish that I had focused more on applying and aspiring for them.

How would you advise a woman looking to take a growth loan for her business?

She has to make sure there is a steady need for her market and products and depends less on importation. She has to be very disciplined. How you keep your loan agreement opens you up to more funding. If you are providing solutions to a problem, you have a business, stay diligent.

What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a businesswoman?

Having the ability to create beautiful pieces and transform homes and spaces while creating an empire and financial independence for myself and women in disadvantaged situations are the pecs of entrepreneurship for me

Where do you see your business in the five years?

I see a well-established thriving textile manufacturing and design company. We want to focus more on adopting Circularity in our Textile and production processes in order to reduce waste in the environment and turn waste into revenue. So as to contribute to climate action.







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