How Rahama Muhammad’s Whatsapp Group “Hostel Queens” is Transforming Campus Business in Zaria
Between Nigeria’s unstable economy and an unemployment rate currently at 4.1 per cent, many young people have turned to operating small and medium-scale businesses while obtaining their degrees or 9-5 jobs. A report in 2021 found that 67 per cent of the nation's entrepreneurs are women and young people aged 18 to 35, respectively. Young women are not left behind; 43 per cent of entrepreneurs in the report are women. Nigeria boasts the highest number of female entrepreneurs in the world, according to the Global Entrepreneurial Monitor.
Rahama Baba Muhammad, a senior Law student at Ahmadu Bello University's Annex Campus in Tudun Wada, Zaria, has ingeniously merged her passion for philanthropy and online browsing. On April 14, 2023, she set up a thriving platform, "Hostel Queens," with an impressive 583-plus members. This WhatsApp group has swiftly evolved into the preferred hub for female students on campus, facilitating the buying and selling of everyday items while fostering social connections.
Rahama started by selling little items with money she saved from her allowance. She started selling matches, iron sponges, earrings, rings, and perfumes. Subsequently, she tells Document Women that she"selling thrift tops with my friends, Maryam and Hawwa, after realising my passion for shopping and good taste in fashion."
She describes Hostel Queens as a fun group and a haven: "It’s a fun group where we share ideas, support each other, pass across useful information, motivate each other, conduct giveaways, and promote our various businesses. I like to think of it as a haven for the girls on the Kongo campus."
The Hostel Queens Logo.
Rahama explained that the primary objective behind creating the group was to nurture a sense of sisterhood among its members. She tells DW that she’d been thinking about creating the group for some time but hadn't put it into action until she had a conversation with her friend Maryam that they jointly decided to launch the group earlier this year.
"I love it when girls cooperate and work together to help each other. Then, I see the group growing and expanding and ladies supporting and helping each other.
It is always heartwarming, and I tell myself, the group has found its purpose," Rahama said.
Rahama finds her role in managing the platform to be a gratifying experience. She expresses that it allows her to experience a diverse range of perspectives, and personalities, and enhance her social media communication skills. Despite encountering challenges, such as members violating platform rules or attempting to provoke conflicts, Rahama effectively addresses these issues by rigorously upholding the rules. Remarkably, the women in the group tend to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. Rahama takes immense pleasure in nurturing a sense of sisterhood among the members and considers this aspect the most rewarding part of her platform management journey.
Besides Hostel Queens, Rahama currently owns Zadaa.Ng, a business geared towards giving back to society and encouraging entrepreneurs to contribute towards making an impact in the lives of others. "It doesn’t stop there. It also encourages meaningful spending. There’s relief and satisfaction, I believe, in knowing that your purchase serves two benefits; you obtain your product, and you also perform the religious and moral duty of giving charity." Rahama explains the driving force behind the business.
When asked what motivates her through the stress that comes from combining business and school, Rahama said
"The desire to make this business bigger. The constant thought was that if I started today, in a few years, I’d establish and expand the business formally. When I think of how society can be a better place through my philanthropy business, it motivates me to hold onto it."
Other business owners, including Maryam Imam Rahama's friend and classmate, spoke positively about the platform to Document women.
Maryam owns Pastry Charm, a pastry business based in Minna and Zaria. She tells Document Women that Hostel Queens was helpful in marketing her business.
"Hostel Queens was created by my friend Rahama because she loves sisterhood and a community that can be helpful to everyone. Getting orders was way easier with the group. Before the group, I had thought of going room by room or making posters. The group made it easier to post and collect orders. And if I had any extras, I could post them and sell them off. I never actually thought of starting the business; it just happened. However, when I started, I intended to improve, learn some more and create something unique. I intend to have a pastry shop where I can make and sell a variety of pastries. I also want to own a pastry school in sha Allah."
Khadija Bisola Raji, A final year Public Administration student who started her business, which tailors and sells veils and other clothing items, by sourcing funds from her family members directly and indirectly, says the WhatsApp group has been beneficial to all the ladies on the campus.
"The Hostel Queens platform has benefitted almost all the ladies on campus. Through the platform, I have met a lot of new customers and referrals. All thanks to Rahmah and Maryam for creating the group."
For Khadija Bello, Owner of Khady's Delight and 3rd year student of Law. The platform has been a blessing.
"Hostel Queens is one of the greatest blessings to locate me, Alhamdulillah I met a lot of people, I have established a lot of connections, I have made a lot of friends, and we are building healthy relationships devoid of unhealthy competition and toxicity. I had the idea all along, from time immemorial, but Hostel Queens gave me the inspiration and motivation I needed to move forward with my business. Alhamdulillah. I intend to go beyond my current stage and attain greater heights together with everyone in our respective fields."