Before we finally close the curtains to 2015, we want to say gladly that 2015 has been a great year for us and like minded entrepreneurs around the Calabar axis.
The up rise of exceptional young persons doing good work and changing their corners of the world did inspire our ‘Entrepreneur of the Month’ column and now Personality of the Year.
You know, it’s not every day you get to meet outstanding young persons doing great things in the business environment with bed rocked determination to succeed against all odds.
One of such young brains celebrated today is Geraldine Itoe. Geraldine is a lifestyle entrepreneur who has made us very proud with her idea conceptualisations and service delivery around the tourism market.
We got curious to get the first hand story and inspiration behind the colourful double decker bus, it’s parties and the Lady behind the wheels, so we decided to have a chat with her.
Who is Geraldine?
What’s the idea behind NovaRosta?
NovaRosta Ltd is an Events and Destination Management company that provide professional planning solutions and consultancy to individuals, groups and companies who book holidays, conferences, events, travel and special visitor/tour programmes to Calabar and across Nigeria. The literal interpretation of the word NovaRosta means “new face”, and this informs everything we do.
How did you finance your start-up?
It was a humble beginning for us. We started out by organising small events, and then graduated to providing services for several high-profile clients. Part of the funds generated from events serviced went into savings for funding our business; alongside soft loans from friends and family who came through at the different stages of the business funding process.
Any regret of having your business based in Calabar?
Absolutely no regrets. Calabar is the cradle of my business and I couldn’t have asked for any better foundation.
What’s the best thing about running NovaRosta in Calabar?
Running NovaRosta in Calabar gives us the opportunity to explore, discover and create “experiences” that avails visitors, tourists and residents alike with opportunities and platforms to enjoy the best of both worlds (Business and Leisure) while in Calabar and Cross River State at large.
What mistakes have you made along the way?
I have made several mistakes as an entrepreneur, some of which I am grateful for and others not so proud of. During my early years as a young woman in business, I was very impulsive in nature. This character flaw caused me to make many mistakes as a result of hasty and impulsive decisions with little or no processed thoughts to finish; but I’ve had to learn (the hard way unfortunately) that if I must succeed, I had to grow up. Growing up for me meant learning to sieve (separating my fantasies from reality), learning to set realistic goals and expectations through strategic thinking. I had to learn to be deliberate, leaving very little to chance.
Your biggest challenge doing something different from the norm would be?
Acquiring the first London-Style-Double-Decker-Tour Bus in West Africa and in Nigeria; and the struggle to keep my head above water amidst very harsh economic times.
What has been your ‘star’ moment so far and what is your favourite project with which you would praise yourself?
Hmmmmm; ‘Star’ Moment! My ‘star moment’ I’d say is waking up daily to the realisation that I am the CEO of my life and my dreams; and that I have the power and will to excel against all odds. My favourite and most challenging project yet is the NovaRosta Double Decker Bus Project. NovaRosta Double Decker Tours is one year in service already and still a work in progress; but successfully maintaining and keeping the service alive through a difficult one year, is proof that passion does make way…something worth being proud of.
If there was something you would have done differently 5 years ago what would it be?
My experiences from five years ago moulded me for today and my experiences today are moulding me for tomorrow. Since I cannot relive the past, I prefer to focus on NOW and the FUTURE.
What did Geraldine study in school and how has that been useful to her life of business?
I studied History and International Studies in the University of Calabar and today ‘history’ is part of the ‘experiences’ I sell for a living.
Over the years, I have also acquire other business certifications including a Masters in Events management from the International Institute of Event Management in California, USA; alongside a GCPE (Global Certification in Professional Events) added to my credentials. As a growing entrepreneur, I make it a point of duty to get certified in something new every other year (bi-annually) to ensure my skills are constantly sharpened to meet the daily demands of my business and customers.
How would you describe an average 25yrs old Calabar based youth?
Hungry…hungry to make a difference!
If you were going to change anything about the first 5 young persons around you what would it be?
Does NovaRosta currently train and employ young people interested in the tourism business?
At the moment, we depend on and employ only people trained and certified by the Cross River State Tourism Bureau. In the near future, we hope to collaborate with the bureau and other necessary bodies in putting together specific training programs that could benefit all interested in the tourism business.
If Geraldine wasn’t doing NovaRosta what else would she be doing with her life?
I’ve always had an eye for the “Luxury industry”…I most likely would have taken a plunge into the international Luxury market.
If you had a chance to get a super power what would it be?
To live life without any form of challenges.
If I was going to copy your business model, what would you advise me not to copy?
I would advise you not to. Every business has its signature that makes it unique and peculiar in its own way. It is always important to find yours and leverage on it.
What are your goals for the end of 2015?
To deliver memorable visitor experiences that complements the spirit of the Calabar Festival and Carnival. Look out for our Christmas and Festival packages on www.novarosta.org
What will be new in your business in 2016?
We will grow with the trends while ensuring that we provide customer focused solutions.
Tell us one thing about you that nobody seems to get right. (Individual misconceptions)
I’m not so sure I know what people’s individual misconceptions are about me and seldom care.
Where is your favourite hangout spot in Calabar and why?
For lack of options, I hang out mostly at the Marina Resort especially by the water side and that’s simply because I love nature. It helps me unwind and relax.