Unasuming, low flying and humble as a dove, not many saw her coming.
Today, Mrs. Nene Amachree is a household name in interior decoration and events planning.
Clearly, a study in hard work, foresight and industry, the young woman is a clear admiration to the usually grieving lot of retirees.
From nothing, Nene after her well deserved disengagement from the NNPC nearly two decades ago is today a potent force in the capacity building effort of young entrepreneurs more than 56 of whom are holding their own in the highly competitive industry.
On the last count, more than three hundred and fifty eight non-fee paying have either passed through her tutelage or have passed through such vocations in the highly competitive hospitality industry.
Mrs Amachree who hails from Abonnema in the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State in an exclusive interview with our special correspondent could be described as a lone ranger in her chosen career going by her meteoric rise in the turbulent environment she has found herself considering the economic and competitive nature of the decorative business.
Born more than 40 years ago and married with three girls, she fondly refers to as “my angels”, Mrs Amachree cut her business teeth proper as far back as the early nineties.
According to her, immediately after her retirement from the services of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, she went into the business of interior decoration.
“Anyway, I am a pensioner and having worked with the NNPC for 12 years, I got retired.”
Interestingly, Mrs. Amachree explained that she was born with a flair for decorations generally and recalled how in her childhood years she used different objects and materials to create patterns to the astonishment of her parents and playmates.
A pioneer of the popular DOF Institute of Catering, Port Harcourt, Mrs Amachree sought to practicalise her knowledge unlike some of her counterparts who opted for other employments that relegated their training to the background.
“I have a flair for organising events even before I had formal education.
“ I am a caterer by profession and I do decorations, planning of events like bridal and children related fanfare.”
One is confronted at her business place in the heart of Port Harcourt Township with a beehive of activities, as young boys and girls are seen busy with one chore or the other.
She quickly explained the presence of the youngsters which, according to her, was a product of a Non Governmental Organisation, NGO, “a covenant with God.”
According to the pensioner turned business woman, she floated the NGO to enable her reach out to the youths of both gender to enable her contribute her quota in reducing the unemployment rate in the society.
“These people you are seeing here are not only exposed to the learning process but some of them are under my employment,” she said.
“I am into this NGO because I know that God has given me more than enough and this is my own way of giving back to society.”
On the challenges facing her, Mrs Amachree, explained that the journey had not been easy but somehow she had been able to surmount them.
“In the beginning, my determination was put to the test despite the passion I had for the business.
Oddly enough, Mrs. Amachree who said she did not plan initially to take what she was doing now as a business but a hobby expressed delight that it turned out to be a business in the main.
“Although I have been in this business for the past 21 years and I do it not only as a business but also as a hobby.
“To be frank, as I am talking with you, it has turned out to be a full fledged business,” she assured.
While narrating how she began with a bit of what she saved from her employment with NNPC, and the support and encouragement from her husband, she urged the youths to embrace self employment as this may turn out to be their “breakthrough.” She advised that the youths should think more on their potentials with a view to developing them rather than thinking of a paid non existing employment after their education or training in whatever field of their specialisation.
“I think the in-thing now among the youths and unemployed should be on how one can be self employed instead of putting hope on a job that is not existing,” she counselled.
Mrs. Amachree who said she had trained more than one hundred young people over the period she had been in business said she had quite an undisclosed number of others in her payroll.
“I have trained more than one hundred people to learn this trade and many of them are my employees,” she revealed.
She further explained that over the years, she had come to understand the desires and behaviours of human beings, “and I have come in contact with a lot of them.”
“Working with different people from different backgrounds, was no mean thing but some how, the challenges are expected and we treat tham as they come,” she said.
She further noted that the work of the interior decorator was physically tasking because you do not only use the hands but all the parts of the body.
“As you can see, some time you even need to use your foot, head, and most especially your creative know how,” she said, adding that creativity was the bottom line.
On how she combines her matrimonial obligations with her job, Mrs. Amachree said her husband had been very supportive and understanding, as “he even lends a helping hand when the occasion demands.”
“I have an understanding and helpful husband and of course, my three daughters are no longer kids.”
Mrs. Amachree who also runs an eatery in the heart of the Port Harcourt Township said she has God as her mentor.
“My mentor is God. I do not have a man or woman mentor,” she declared and expressed delight that her job had given her the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.
“In the course of my work, I have met presidents, governors and infact, all the high and lowly people and this has given me great joy.”
She further outlined the gains in the business and advised the youths to key into it as according to her, the benefits were encouraging for any one who might want to venture into it.
According to her, the business is not only lucrative but it requires a lot of diligence.
“It is a lucrative business and it is all about being diligent, without uneccessary distractions because it takes a lot of time, energy, calculation and all the rest,” she emphasises.
Asked if given another opportunity what she would like to be, she emphatically responded that “if given another opportunity, I will still want to be a caterer and an interior decorator..”