by Doyinsola Adeyemi
Mama Chinelo’s chemist is situated along the river banks of Oworonshoki, Lagos. It has served the neighbourhood for about two decades now and has since become an integral member of the community.
Mama Chinelo, the shop owner, is a woman in her very late 50s. She’s a trained pharmacist and decided to set up her pharmacy store about twenty years after a wave of retrenchment hit the organization she worked at the time.
She’s renowned and revered in the community for her strong work ethic, passion and dedication to her work over the years.
Mama Chinelo chemist (the real name of the store being Chilo Pharmacy) has evolved over the years from a tiny store worth about #1,500 when it was established to about #150,000 today. However, this growth came at a huge price. Looking back, she counts her losses and gains as well as lessons learnt. She believed that with the amount of work and dedication invested into the business, she ought to be worth over one million Naira today and established a chain of Mama Chinelo Pharmacy stores across the state. If wishes were horses really, beggars would ride.
A major challenge faced was record-keeping, documentation and inventory management. She recounted that as the store began to grow, taking stock and managing sales records became a daunting task. Of course, these records were handwritten in large exercise books and often got torn, eaten up by rats and sometimes went missing.
The craftiness and cunningness of over-the-counter sales reps did not help matters. Oftentimes, the records were altered and such misrepresentations of data have dealt the business a huge blow. She recounts her experience with one of her Sales Persons. “Nkechi almost ruined my store. Unknown to me, she was selling her drugs on my shelf. She would buy drugs and display on the shop shelf and sell them off without documenting. I thought the drugs were not being sold. I discovered when I asked my daughter to go pick up some drugs to be administered to my sick mother during her visit. I was shocked when there was no record of that transaction. I have had situations like this with several sales reps. There was nothing I could do but fire and hire. I cannot always be at the shop.”
She recalls an incident that shook her, a fire incident that gutted a section of her store which included her sales/inventory book. Not alone did she lose money and products, she also could not account for sales and her stock. Her sales persons took advantage of the mishap and her finances further declined. It took guts, sheer determination and courage to get back on her feet.
There were several other challenges she faced in growing her business. She heaved a sigh of relief when she was told by some marketers that they could provide a solution that would cater to all of her business concerns and help her solve her challenges. She first expressed doubts and reservations but later decided to give it a try. The marketers had pitched to her a lean software solution they called Pronov which they claim to be a one-size-fits-all solution.
Pronov, they claimed, would help her manage her inventory, take stocks, monitor sales, alert her on low stock, alert her on product expiration and even help with her supply chain. The marketers further mentioned that she can order for drugs on their online portal and she will get her order delivered to her doorstep. All these seem too good to be true. However, since he who is down fears no fall; she decided to give it a shot.
Six months down the line, her business enterprise has grown in leaps and bounds. She narrates how seamless running her pharmacy store has become. She no longer worries about the possibility of having an expired drug on her shelf or running out of stock. Payments are also digitalized and she no longer worries if her salesperson steals from her as phishing is now a thing of the past.
When quizzed to comment on how her business has turned since adopting Pronov, she simply responded, “I wish I had Pronov 10 years ago. Pronov is the best thing to happen to me”.
Just two weeks ago, Mama Chinelo Pharmacy Store opened a new branch in Gbagada, Lagos.