Meet writer, motivational speaker and all-around momtrepreneur Esther Samson Ukaria who was born and raised in Kano, Nigeria as a Christian. Since philanthropy is key here, Ester uses most of the proceeds from her published books to support ‘The renovation Of The Erkundayo Orphanage Home’ which is her current charity project.
By aiming to use her work to build a legacy, Ester invests in the lives of others positively so that they to can impact others. She is currently working on a new romance novel and a new project in collaboration with the love from Africa non-governmental organization in Mülheim to help both physically and emotionally abused women. We cover Philanthropy, breaking the status quo and why it’s ever so important to give back.
Hey Ester, can you introduce yourself to us?
My name is Esther Samson Ukaria. I was born 33 years ago on a sunny afternoon in April, a single mother of an amazing 6-year-old boy.
I am from Nigerian and was raised in Kano state, the northern path of Nigeria. I completed both my primary school and secondary school there as well. In 2006 after I was refused an American visa to study at Towson state university in Maryland. I decided to study International relations & strategic studies at Igbinedion University in Edo state, Nigeria and in 2009, I was awarded a first class degree and was asked to publish the first edition of my diplomatic book ‚‘‘ Strategy on diplomatic matters‘‘. I then got married, published another book titled 111 wise thoughts.
In 2010, I decided to relocate to Germany to join my ex-husband. I suffered both physical abuse and emotional abuse in my marriage and in April 2012, my ex-husband deceived me and my 9 months old baby to Nigeria, took our traveling documents. We were abandoned at the airport and I just had 1 euro in my pocket with no help. I tried committing suicide by jumping the bridge, but God showed me mercy and a police officer pushed me and the baby, which I carried behind my back to the ground and that was what saved our lives.
The issue was reported to the German Embassy and they helped us travel back to Germany. We lived in the women’s home for sometime before I found an apartment. This was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives and that same year I started working on my book ‚‘Trials of a woman‘‘. Despite the hurt and frustration, I had to get my life on track just for the sack of my baby. I decided to do an intensive language course in German, recognized my first degree in Germany and that same year I started a vocational training course at the Robert-Schuman-college in Essen, Germany and in 2015,
I received my certificate from the chambers of commerce as a certified foreign language commercial assistant. It was very difficult caring for a baby and studying but I had a God and a wonderful mother, who kept on motivating me, telling me not to remember the past but to focus on my destination.
After my graduation, I applied for an internship at the former UNESCO office in Düsseldorf under the auspices of ambassador Ute Henriette Ohoven to learn more about project management and public relations. In 2016 and 2017, I worked shortly at Aon Hewitt and the Schauenburg Group of companies at the foreign department and export department. I was able to gather a lot of expertise in marketing, client solutions, order processing. In addition, I decided to take a leap of faith after turning down a 5-year contract from a publishing company and decided to self-publish my book in English and German language ‚‘Trials of a woman and the second edition of strategy on diplomatic matters‘‘.
In that same year, I was able to raise funds for my first official charity project in co-operation with my mother to execute the first phase of the renovation of the Erkundayo Orphanage home in Kogi State, Nigeria.
In November 2017, I published again two books titled ‚‘ Surviving the storm and 105 inspirational wise words‘‘, which many people, especially in my community, have benefitted from. Since then I have been invited to speaking events to inspire both women and men especially people of colour that no matter the set-back in life they too can pursue their dreams. Currently, I am working part-time at the marketing department as a marketing assistant at the Glasglobal Group in Düsseldorf.
As a motivational speaker, writer, and marketing strategist can you tell us a little bit about your career background?
I have always loved counseling people and I noticed that they benefit a lot from my words of wisdom. I used to speak at birthday parties with my friends when I was little. I officially started speaking in 2014. I was invited to speak at a women conference organized by the Love from Africa, a non governmental organization in Mülheim, who is presently building a home for street children in Ghana and since then I have been invited to a few local talk shows or Institute to share my knowledge on various topics ‚‘‘How can Journalist use the media to the decrease of migration‘‘. Recently I was asked to speak on the challenges of single mothers in Nigeria‘‘ Was interviewed twice in my city in November and in January this year, due to the charity and motivational work and writing I have been doing.
I discovered my passion for writing while I was in primary school and I wrote my first article on ‚‘advantages of cleanliness, which my dad printed out from his printer and I shared it with my classmates. Since then I have written 111 wise thoughts, Trials of a woman, Strategy on diplomatic matters, Surviving the storm and 105 inspirational wise words. I self-publish my books and sell them at the local bookshop in Mülheim, Amazon, Createspace, Kindle, at events and in a few places in Nigeria.
As a marketing strategist, I have always loved business and I love selling. I started selling clothes for mother in secondary school and while in the university. I noticed that I had a way with people and this helped me to be able to determine what they needed and I was able to convince them to buy what I was selling. Presently, people ask me to help them with strategies if they are about to start new projects. I work closely with them to come up with good strategies, which will bring positive results.
Did you study anywhere or have you previously taken on any workshops to benefit your profession?
In 2009, I was awarded a first class degree in International Relations & Strategic studies from Igbinedion University in Edo State, Nigeria. After I moved to Germany, I did a vocational training course at the Robert-Schuman College, which I completed in June 2015. I became a certified foreign language commercial assistant from the chamber of commerce in Essen. This year April, I attended one of JT Foxx seminars in Cologne, Germany. I learned a lot from his seminar and since then I have gotten much better in my area of expertise.
You are also a philanthropist, can you tell us about the charity projects that you take on?
In 2014, in collaboration with the word of life church, I traveled down to the refugee camp in muster to give out clothes and food and share a word of motivation to the people. Also in 2015, during the refugee crisis, I helped gather clothes and a little money to buy a few things fort he refugees.
In 2016, in collaboration with my mother, we decided to start the renovation of the Erkundayo Orphanage home in Kogi State. Most of the proceeds from my book go into the buying of food for the children. Als,o I help to organise events at the Love From Africa Foundation in Mülheim. Presently, we are working on a project to empower and organize workshops for both men and women who have suffered abuse in one form or the other.
As a woman of faith, can you tell us how God has played an important role throughout your personal journey?
My relationship with Jesus has encouraged me to be fearless. It has built my muscle and given me a positive mindset of a winner. Throughout my personal journey, I have experienced so many storms, which I have learned from knowing that with God by my side I will go through the bad weather and come out victoriously. When most people give up due to the pressures of society I don’t because I believe as a woman that I am not a failure nor weak but precious because Jesus has empowered me to reign.
Is there any charity project that you have worked on that you have felt has been the most rewarding to be able to be part of?
Yes Helping the Erkundayo home has been really rewarding. It was difficult raising money for the Christmas party last year December but thanks to a few donations it came to past. Some of the children at the orphanage were sent to the market to purchase some firewood to cook and along the way a newborn baby was found. My mom called to inform me about the situation and I was so happy we did not cancel the Christmas party due to lack of funds. I was so thankful that we were able to save a life. Today the baby has been named, is healthy and living at the orphanage home.
Why do you feel it is important for us to give back to our community?
Personally, I feel giving back to the society is a wonderful thing to do. It can be done not just through funds. Even by giving out your old expensive clothes instead of throwing them away, donating food, knowledge to people so that they can benefit. Our world is dying gradually due to the hate and selfishness. Giving back brings togetherness.
Absolutely it does. Any challenging times you have had to overcome? When were they and how did you learn to overcome them?
The most challenging time like I stated earlier is being abandoned with a 9-month-old baby and physically abused while I was 3 months pregnant with my ex-husband. I overcame this through the Holy Spirit ministering to my heart, giving me total healing and through the encouragement from my mother, who constantly reminded me to trust in God and not human, work hard, never allow fear distract me from getting tot hat position I desire. It was tough but now I can look back, smiling because I am not where I want to be but I am no longer the heart-broken abandoned girl at the airport.
Have you ever had a life coach or mentor? If so how has this benefitted you?
I have never had a coach. Life itself has been my best teacher. It has moulded me and I have experienced growth in many ways.
What outlets do use to market your marketing strategy services?
- I speak with people directly at events
- I ask people who have read my books or who I have helped to recommend me
- I use social media Facebook, Instagram
- Selling platforms like Amazon, CreateSpace.
- Newspaper publication
Which methods are you using to build your audience and expand your network?
Social Media and speaking to people directly has really been a good way to get my work out and expand my network.
Are there any marketing strategists that you think are doing an equally awesome job?
Yes, there are a lot: Ann Handley, JT Foxx, Adarth Albee, Mari Smith, Marcus Sheridan.
Can you give us 3 of your top tips for developing a strong marketing strategy for start-up brands?
1.Build your product by first doing a market research or analysis to see how well your product is accepted. You should play with different prices, quality. This will also help you know your target.
2.Get feedback on your product in order for you to know what area needs improvement.
3.Advertise your products through various social media and famous people if you have the opportunity. (Brand your products by getting people to advertise these products. The name sells a lot. Do you know that the company sewing suits for Hugo Boss are the same sewing the suits for C&A in Germany? But people would prefer to buy Hugo boss just because of the name attached to it.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
You will never experience growth if you are not ready to move out of your comfort zone.
What would you tell your 18 year-old-self?
On the road towards success never allow the negative opinions of others distract you.
What does success look like in your eyes?
Success to me is when I have been able to invest in people by building a legacy and these people are also using what I have transferred to them to impact the lives of others positively.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
I see #BEYOUROWN and your company as a new open door. A door which helps us change the status quo and take bolder steps in life.
Thank you! We truly hope that we can help pave the way for that, in fact, we are going to hold on to that thought. Ok, so lastly what is next for you 2018?
Currently, I am working on my 6th book a romance novel, which should be published early next year. I am also working towards the second phase of the renovation at the orphanage home. In collaboration with the Love From Africa NGO, I will help empower both men and women who have suffered emotional and physical abuse, helping them on their path towards self-improvement and healing. I will be presenting my books at a few stage readings and give my input on topics at talk shows about how to raise a child as a single parent.
Image by Janine Booms