Bimbo Alashe is the founder of Leatherworld Interiors, a high-end furniture firm. She is an ambitious entrepreneur and one of the few businesswomen in Nigeria and Africa, who has broken previously thought impenetrable ground.
She has successfully developed and built her firm into the multimillion-dollar enterprise it is today.
The success of Bimbo Alashe, a determined entrepreneur who rose from humble beginnings to become the owner of one of Nigeria’s largest furniture enterprises, is an admirable one.
Education and journey into the business world
Bimbo Alashe was born in London in 1952 and received a Post Graduate degree in Interior Design from Pitman College and the Regent Academy of Design and Fine Arts in London.
Alashe returned to Nigeria and opened Glamour, a mini-gift shop and beauty salon in Apapa, marking the beginning of her entrepreneurial career. She soon discovered a gap.
At the time, there seemed to be a scarcity of high-quality furniture, particularly Nigerian-made furniture. She saw an opportunity in this area, which gave birth to Leatherworld.
How Leatherworld started
The company was founded in 1994 to redefine luxury and elegance in the furniture industry. The goal was simple: make high-quality furniture accessible to the general public.
Alashe began with a small retail establishment on Ikoyi’s Ribadu Road, grooming and growing the company until it was substantial enough to warrant a second location.
Alashe transferred from her office on Ribadu road to a more spacious workspace on Raymond Njoku street, which is also in Ikoyi, where the company created what would become one of Nigeria’s largest furniture showrooms.
Leatherworld grew steadily over the years. In 1999, after four years of successful operations, a new showroom was created in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja to tap into a new market and serve potential clients in the region.
After a few years, The Concourse Place, a permanent location in Lekki Phase 1, was opened. In 2009, a new branch opened in Ikeja GRA.
Despite the odds, the firm maintained its reputation for serving only the highest-quality luxury furniture.
Leatherworld commissioned The Concourse Industry – an assembly and manufacturing plant in the Calabar Free Trade Zone – in 2005. This was in conjunction with NIERI, a furniture-making company in Italy, to enable it to concretise the standard it had set for luxury furniture in Nigeria.
The business was commissioned in February 2005 by the late Stella Obasanjo, former First Lady of Nigeria. It was the first truly Nigerian furniture manufacturing company with a continental franchise to serve the local market and export finished items to other West African countries.
Leatherworld was serving a value chain in the local economy while simultaneously training and equipping a Nigerian team of furniture makers with the ability and delicacy that rivalled their international rivals.
Alashe, who had never played softball before, took a major risk when she joined NIERI in 2005.
NIERI, which was founded in 1929, was also known for its special home designs in wood and full flowered leather. The relationship was a perfect match, and it has since created some of Africa’s finest furniture.
The company has maintained its reputation for exclusively dealing with the greatest quality furniture, furnishings, and allied products, both locally and abroad, to this day.
It also boasts a zero-rejection record, demonstrating that its industry-standard is uncompromised. Leatherworld continues in its expansion into other African countries.
Alashe can easily be regarded as one of Nigeria’s top 10 female entrepreneurs without fear of dispute. She is estimated to be worth $750 million and serves on the boards of various corporations. She also serves as a mentor to several aspiring and established business owners.