#BounceExclusive: How Going Blind Inspired Ex-Banker To Set Up Her Own Business
She wasn’t born blind.
She went to primary, secondary and tertiary schools with her sight intact. She equally worked in the banking industry for 17 years.
She, however, lost her sight at a time she was preparing to retire from the bank to set up her own business.
Christiana Kehinde Akinrinmade started losing her eyesight gradually after being diagnosed of Glaucoma, and lost it completely in 2011.
But the 55-year-old hasn’t let her visual impairment stop her from succeeding in life. Rather than brood over her sudden loss of sight, she focused on a solution.
Her story is an amazing one of triumph over a disability. She is today showing many the path to real happiness.
After going blind, she had the option of depending on others for her living, but she chose not to.
So, she decided to join the Society for Blind, an organisation that provides skill training to visually impaired people, and there she took training in shoe and bag making, adire making, among other skills.
Her choice has paid off today as many people, both able-bodied and physically challenged, now look up to her to make meaning out of life.
Akinrinmade is now an Instructor at the Lagos State Skill Acquisition Centre, Mushin and owner of Divine Chris Ken Enterprises.
The company, which name was coined from her names, makes shoes, bags fabrics, beads among other products.
“When I first found out that I was going to lose my sight I think I was in denial that it was going to happen. I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was and didn’t realise how emotionally draining and how much of an impact it would have on me, my family and the people around me”, she told Bounce News.
She said it took her almost 2 years to accept her blindness, but when she did, she could see things more clearly than many others around her.
In terms of what she can and can’t see, she can feel all the naira notes and perceive light nonvisually.
She makes use of her other four sense organs and hands perfectly.
Watching her make use of her mouth and hands to produce bags and shoes is a delight. Akinrinmade uses her fingers to measure exactly how wide the edge of a bag might need to be: Does it need to be a quarter or half of a finger nail wide? It has taken years for her to fine-tune these skills, but overtime it has become second nature.
Akinrinmade said she often heard people saying what she could not do. “There are a lot of misconceptions about persons with disabilities, you have to constantly prove yourself to people.”
"I also believe that you have to be assertive. If you want to make it in life you have to be a self-starter.”
Looking back at the number of lives she has touched, she said: “There are so many of the people that we have trained that are doing quite well today.
"I’m very grateful for my life and I’m very blessed to have what I have. I know there are a lot of people out there who are not as fortunate as I am. For me, it’s important to give back to society and help these people.
But things are not that easy for her. She is financially handicapped to expand her business to the level she desires. “I can’t do it alone. I need the support of kind-hearted Nigerians.”
Akinrimade's business philosophy is straight-forward and solid. She likes to meet a lot of good people.
She hopes she can be an inspiration to blind people, people with other disabilities, and even people without impairments.
"I think there are lots of people with and without disabilities that are just afraid to step up,” she said.
“Everyone – whether they can see or not – should take that step toward achieving their dreams.”
“It takes a community that believes in you, and if you don’t have that community, then it takes you to believe in you that you can take the risk and that you can go and do it,” she said.
If you’re touched by Akinrinmade's story and would like to get in touch with her to help, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.