This entry is part 7 of 19 in the series Running a StartUp in a Crisis Economy

The past few years have been (sadly) rife with the Anglophone Crisis just in our backyard. But the one good thing that can come from trying times is that many entrepreneurs and businesses find new ways of approaching their marketing. In such times as these, Matuke Therese Meango, a Kumba-based entrepreneur, is rethinking her marketing strategy in order to keep her head above the water.

The 32-year-old Kumba-born female entrepreneur is a producer of handmade fashionable accessories.

Beyond the Borders: Therese Matuke Targets International Markets with Handmade Beaded Accessories
Therese Matuke: Founder and CEO of Diamond Glitz

She’s also the founder and CEO of Diamond Glitz, a young fashion brand that designs and markets handmade beaded accessories to both local and international markets.

Beyond the Borders: Therese Matuke Targets International Markets with Handmade Beaded Accessories

Beyond the Borders: Therese Matuke Targets International Markets with Handmade Beaded Accessories

Those who are lucky enough to grow up close to their grandparents know what a gift it truly is. Bead making has been part of Therese since her childhood. At the tender age of 5, she was already into the craft world. Weaving baskets and other accessories with her grandfather was something she took pleasure in. Eventually, she tapped inspiration for bead making from her grandfather.

Venturing into bead making

Aside from serving as a salesgirl, personal assistant, HR personnel, etc, Therese later realized in 2016, that she could turn her hobby for bead making into a money-making venture. She, therefore, decided to get into bead making full time and founded Diamond Glitz where she and her team produce and sell handmade beaded accessories.

Beyond the Borders: Therese Matuke Targets International Markets with Handmade Beaded Accessories Beyond the Borders: Therese Matuke Targets International Markets with Handmade Beaded Accessories

At the time, it wasn’t easy launching a fashion brand like Diamond Glitz. For one thing, she lacked the necessary funds to invest in her business. Though she eventually struggled to get support from family and friends, she still needed a market for her fabulous designs. But her passion for bead making was the one thing that kept her going.

But a couple of months into the bead making business, the venture became exciting as Therese was able to sell everything she designed. What greater joy could there be than knowing her designs were actually loved?

She was making money from exhibition sales which she plowed back into the young business. Then in 2018, she began offering training on bead making which fetched her some extra income. The money she got from students’ registration also helped her acquire more materials.

Ever since her business has been on a steady rise to affluence.

Here’s what to do when disaster strikes

Until later in 2018, the strike action by activists which turned into a popular uprising began looting from Therese Matuke’s coffers. The crisis has hit her local markets really hard with her local consumers fleeing Kumba. While some of her high paying clients fled into the bushes, others have sought refuge in other towns.

But Therese also learned to adapt to the crushing crisis by adopting defensive survival strategies to keep her business running.

“Most of our local consumers have moved to either the bushes or to other areas. That’s why we are now focusing on serving the international markets.”

Movement along the Kumba-Douala stretch of road hasn’t been a ride in the park lately. Considering that Therese gets her materials mostly from Douala and Nigeria, the constraint around movement in these areas is a serious problem for the business.

“Sometimes, roads are blocked and you can’t travel to get materials. Meeting with deadlines of our clients is also becoming another big challenge for us.”

For most people, few things cause worry, stress, and panic as much as deadlines. Deadlines mean you’re still in the game, that you’re in business. More importantly, deadlines can be a source of inspiration for discovering new and better strategies. Such is the case of Therese Matuke. She used the challenge of meeting her clients’ deadlines to discover new strategies she could use to market her products.

How Therese Matuke is surviving the heat

“As an entrepreneur, I have created contacts which have helped me minimize risk.”

Because every business has its own secrets, this happens to be one of the secrets that have kept Therese in business despite the crisis.

The insecurity brought about by the geopolitical crisis in Cameroon has forced this young entrepreneur to take calculated risks. It’s the sort of risk worth taking if she must survive the crisis and remain in business.

Therese Matuke believes that understanding your business better, reducing complexity, and focusing on your business is a surefire way to not only survive but thrive during this crisis period.

At present, her biggest challenge is getting a market for her products. If only she can solve this problem, she will be solving a big problem for other bead makers: the market.

In times of crisis, it’s heartwarming to see how Therese Matuke is adopting new, defensive tactics to approach her marketing.

While it’s easy to fidget and run out of business during such a crisis as this, remember the adage: “This, too, shall pass.” No matter what it is, every bad situation you find yourself or your business in, will eventually end. That’s why, no matter the fight, you need to live fully throughout the crisis to see your way out of it.

 

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