In the city centres, there is now a growing business. Its clients are children. In a way, it brings so much economic dividends, writes Rosemary Okpave
When Kehinde Olutunji was growing up, he had an aspiration of finishing his educational pursuit and afterwards gets a well paying job, but that couldn't happen. In the middle of his education, he dropped out of school, because of finance.
But, unlike most people that give up easily and resort to arms begging or crime, Olatunji is not one. He turned around his misfortune using his talent and now he says, "that has turned out to be worthwhile and a means of touching the lives of others."
Olatunji is a party organiser with deliberate focus on the children. "After dropping out of school and without a job, I had to indulge myself in something to get the mind and body together at least. I have always known that I can make people laugh. So, I thought of the idea of wearing cartoon characters' costumes as a means of making money and entertaining people," he said.
Yes, kids adore cartoon characters and would love to meet their favourite such as Dora, Buzz, Mickey, princesses amongst others. Children have such a vivid imagination that they think these characters are real and they impress it on their parents to higher Costumed Character for their birthday parties.
And now, that desire by the children to see their favourite cartoon characters has become a money spinning for some people in the big cities like Lagos, Abuja, Portharcourt, Ibadan, Calabar and several state capitals where stores are being opened to allow parents see their children happy.
Mrs. Toyin Akerele said, "Children are so happy when they see a life-size version of their favourite cartoon character walks into a party or dance with them and that is why costumed characters for kids' parties have become very popular such that you see them at almost every birthday party."
Just as in the case of Mr. Olatunji, establishing event business with focus on providing costumed cartoon characters has not only turned out to be a lucrative venture, but has opened doors of employment and placed food on the table of many. For him, costume wearing is something he has found joy in doing and can compete favourably with his counterparts in other profession.
"I attend parties on these costumes and I see the excitement it gives to children not only because of my presence, but because it affords them the time to have close contact with their favourite comic heroes whom they can only see on TV, and I can't swap the joy I feel that very moment for anything else. Infact I oftentimes become like a child myself," Olatunji disclosed.
For, Dotun Alofejo, a student of Lagos State Polytechnic, Yaba, the business as he revealed has been helpful in his educational pursuit. "I started as a DJ and later added costumed cartoon characters as part of my business. Since then it has been very helpful because I paid my bills, school fees and so many other expenses from it."
"And even other people I introduced to the business are making it and succeding in their different locations, so it is a good means of livelihood and serves as a market of opportunity for everyone," Dotun added.
Perhaps, it is now a rare sight in Nigeria to attend any birthday party or any event involving children without cartoon characters. It is evident that these cartoon character bring high degree of colour and rejuvenation to social gatherings especially the ones that concern children which has made parent and organisations include it in their menu of necessities when hosting a get together.
"Imagine your child shaking hands with Barney or Barbie, Cinderella or Batman," said Joy Atuche, a mother of five who sees the business as "a great market where there is a ready client."
"In this 21st century, they are harmless features that cannot only make our kids happy but also educate them without corrupting their minds and this is what most parents should take note of", said Mrs. Mariah Aloh, a mother of two.
She further stated that, "although you pay good money to have them around, but it is a real value for your money because they bring about a spiced up environment and performance to the expectation of the kids. Most of us didn't enjoy all these while growing up so if we are doing it for our kids it isn't too much of a task."
For most business ventures that have improved with technological changes in a competitive market, costumed cartoon character for kid's party have also added in value that makes individuals and organisation with quality and variety stay afloat and on top of the chain.
"I came into this business since 2011 and although it has proved to be a sustainable means of income it needs imaginary and clear vision for individuals to cope. This is because, one needs to upgrade his stock and have variety at his disposal since children love to have recent cartoons characters while parents/organisation love to get recent costumes that will thrill the children.
"Nothing is static, So many things have improved," Emeka Lawrence, a seller of cartoon wears explained.
For the likes of Kehinde and Dotun, doing what they like has turned out to make them not only contributor to the nation's economy, but also a glaring example to youths, who only clamour for high paying white collar jobs.
But making an impression on kids with costumed cartoon characters is also being explored by big businesses to increase sales. For instance, Access Bank has in recent time being promoting Dora the explorer across the country as a means of courting the attention of parents through their children to open savings account for the kids at the bank.
In an earlier statement announcing its decision to bring Dora the explorer to Nigeria, Access bank stated: "Access Bank Plc is set to redefine the retail banking space for children in Nigeria with the launch of a bespoke account for young savers. The Access Bank "Early Savers Account", a custom-made banking product for Nigerian parents and children, builds on the growing reputation of Access Bank as a bank of best practice in Africa and a leader in sustainability and responsible business practices.
The launch of the new account will be supported by a groundbreaking strategic partnership with Nickelodeon, the global family entertainment super-brand, leveraging Nickelodeon's world-famous animated pre-school heroine and cartoon character, Dora the Explorer, to encourage financial responsibility from an early age.
Access Bank has since September 2011 used the animated Dora the Explorer and her best friend Boots to boost patronage in Nigeria.