Carpentry has been around for thousands of years and continues to be an important industry that produces beautiful and functional wood/metal products. However, as demand for wood products continues to grow, the woodworking industry faces the challenge of ensuring that the wood is sourced sustainably and manufactured in an eco-friendly manner.

Meet N’yillah .E. Cawray, the Founder of N’yillah’s Design and the winner of the Dare2Aspire senior pitch event 2023 which was organized by Innovation SL. Now let’s delve into her startup journey.

N’yillah’s Design is a furniture store where their vision is to create SUSTAINABLE, high quality wooden and metal products that bring joy and functionality to people’s lives. Their unique value proposition is for every furniture they make they buy nursing seedlings. They also break away from INDUSTRIAL STEREOTYPES.

According to N’yillah, there is a lack of quality, reliable, and sustainably wooden and metal carpentry products in the market. In order to validate if the problem was truly a problem, she went through training and apprenticeship in one of the renowned carpentry factories here in Sierra Leone and also did some research. It was at this moment she recognized the potential to create a solution and decided to turn it into a business.

She saw a need for high-quality carpentry products that were sustainable, which cater to individual needs that weren’t adequately addressed in the market. The woodworking industry faces the challenges of ensuring that the wood is sourced sustainably and manufactured in an eco-friendly manner.

“N’yillah utilizes the waste management sector by recycling or repairing old furniture and offers custom-made, eco-friendly, and high-quality furniture that cater to individual needs.” Product

She considered validating the viability of her idea as one of the critical steps in being a good entrepreneur. Here are some techniques she used: conducted market research to understand the demand for the services, sought feedback from potential customers (customer reviews was one way to validate that my product or solution was valid), and understanding the existing and potential competitors.

N’yillah Design is currently in the early stages of building, establishing a solid client base, and refining its craft. Additionally, committed to ongoing green practices, exploring sustainable materials, and minimizing environmental impact as key aspects of the business growth strategy.

Building an incredible team is our biggest win, having these people is our most valuable resource. If you take our machinery, finance, and burn down our building, just leave me with my team; we will definitely build again.

When starting a business, one of the biggest challenges we have encountered is securing funding and managing our finances effectively. Building a business, you’ve to navigate does factor in, especially managing your finances.

Moving to the next level, we will want Advanced Carpentry Techniques to implement advanced techniques to set our work apart. Another is Equipment Upgrade, Green Practices, Customer Engagement, Apprenticeship Program (to train the next generation of carpenters and expand our workforce), Also Digital Presence (to create a professional website and utilize social media to showcase our portfolio and attract potential clients), and lastly Project Management Skills: to develop effective project management skills to handle multiple projects efficiently and meet deadlines.

We believe the local startup scene is thriving due to a collaborative entrepreneurial community. Networking events and co-working spaces have been especially helpful in fostering innovation and creating valuable connections. Also, we have noticed that mentorship programs and access to venture capital have played a crucial role in supporting the growth of startups. The collaborative spirit among entrepreneurs is a key factor that contributes to the overall success of the local startup ecosystem.

“As an entrepreneur, I believe having a dedicated startup incubator or accelerator program in the region would be truly beneficial. This could provide essential resources, mentorship, and a collaborative environment that fosters innovation, helping businesses like mine to thrive and contribute to the local economy.” – N’yillah .E. Cawray

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