Chat With Prudencia Asanga Cho: First-hand Experience of a Print Business Owner
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In other to finish this edition concerning the print business, we decided to get first hand knowledge from an expert in the field. Below is an interview with Mrs Prudencia Asanga Cho who has been in the print business for quite a while now. To know more about Prudendia, read this previous article, Cameroonian on the Spotlight: Prudencia Asanga – CEO Wise Concepts
What ignited the spark in you to start a printing business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
Well initially I never dreamt working in the print industry, but a lot of things that surrounded me pushed me to realize how, profitable this business could be. First my elder brother was a printer, then my elderly sister with whom I spent my university days owns a print business. So getting indulged in printing was just like helping my elder sister who was my sponsor then. As a result, I began to make little money too by my self and so came the spark…
So printing is like part of your family.
Yes, something like that.
How long have you been in this business?
I have been into printing professionally for close to 12years now. I say professional because I haven’t included my university days. I have done 9 years as an employee and 3 years as my own boss.
How did you get where you are today, given that you are a woman and women usually say they are being marginalized when doing business? Do you think women feel intimidated in business, especially the print business?
As far as I am concerned, I have never been marginalized by anybody in this print industry. On the contrary I think being a woman is an advantage, most clients are baffled at the quantity of work we do, the speed at which we deliver and some times really respect us for the time we put at work. To me being a woman is a plus, and besides that I am a very determined woman ready to break all barriers, so no one intimidates or marginalizes me. If ever we should talk about marginalization, it comes from our male collaborators who think that a woman should not give them orders. A woman should not be the head of the team. But who cares , woman or man, what we want are results.
With the advent of new technologies, many people see the print industry as a dying one. What do you say about this?
To say the print industry is a dying one is an over statement because printing is only getting better as far as technology is concerned. If you said the old machines are being replaced by modern and sophisticated ones, I will agree. There is no way printing can die. Do you mean that people won’t need to wear t-shirts or caps at conferences again? Do you mean that I won’t have to give my client a branded pen, t-shirt, tea cup, umbrella, books, etc? No way printing might face some challenges but can’t die.
What are some of the challenges you face in the print business?
So many challenges. First of all the market is saturated with print businesses. Also, customers in the search for cheap goods no longer care about quality, so prices get really low. Power outages is another problem. ENEO cuts light frequently. The biggest challenge is being able to deliver your clients on time. They don’t know how long it takes to print a flier, a calendar, they just come to us at the last minute and expect us to deliver at their requested time.
I see here you have various machines for printing. This means you are doing various types of print jobs. Which one of these brings in the most profit?
All of them bring it profits, it just depends on the customers you have at hand. Just that some of them function according to seasons. Machines to print on umbrellas will bring in more profits during the rainy days, that for t-shirts during labor day period, offset printing during end of year campaigns and back to school periods. But you can get a jackpot from any machine at any time, you just need to have a strong commercial network and relations.
Who are your customers?
So far we have a good portfolio of clients in and out of the country. But still we say anybody can be our client. I mean anybody can be our client because we print on everything. Yes we have adapted equipments to print on anything.
What makes your print business different from others?
Rapidity, quality and price. Our staff is well trained. Customer satisfaction is our priority.
What is so interesting about your business that a lot of people don’t know about?
The most interesting thing about printing that most people are still to discover is that it makes you a well informed person. Imagine you have to print 4 to 5 different articles per day, you must read them, if not glance through. Automatically you get informed and get to learn from it. Printers are well informed people because we print all types of articles, from football, Church, politics, health, etc. The list is long. I can remember someone asked me once, “how come, you know a lot about football and now you are telling me about elections in Gabon?”
Are you married? Do you have kids?
Yes I am married and have 5 kids.
Wao! A large family. How do you achieve work-family-life balance?
Managing home and business is the toughest of it all. Thank God my husband is very comprehensive and is ready to assist me at all times, both at home and at work.
What have you learned that you will like to pass over to others who want to go into the print business?
Patience, patience, perseverance, focus. You can do printing your whole life yet never get to know all of the printing departments.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
If I have to start all over again, the only thing I will like to do differently, is printing.
Where do you see yourself and your print business in 10 years? 20 years?
I see my print business well developed, I mean very far and I see myself resting because presently I am training youths who can manage printing in all its forms. I don’t intend to still be working late, early, under pressure in ten years time. I am preparing a pass it on to others to manage.
Thank you very much for your time. We wish you the best in your endeavors.
You are welcome.
Interviewed by Derick Sullivan Lobga