From Africa to the UK, Oma Peters overcame the challenges of an immigrant, woman of colour and a mother, and qualified as a pharmacist in the UK, rising through the ranks of the pharma world. People over profit, the pharmacy and business merge is unlike any other business. In our exclusive interview with Business Woman Today, Oma shared the obstacles she overcame to become the businesswoman she is today, and she’s back at London Business Magazine to share her journey of turning her academic knowledge in pharmacy into a business.
The odds against women of colour are double-edged.
What are some challenges you face owning a pharmacy in the UK? Is this form of practice different to navigate in comparison to other businesses outside of medicine?
Pharmacy practice is highly regulated, and so is the business of owning a community pharmacy. Complying with the rules is paramount and that is what makes it different to other businesses. Since it is a business that deals with medications, it is important to always get things right. Everyone who works in the business, from the assistants to the pharmacists, has to be well trained and qualified to do the jobs they do, and it is a case of managing the continuous training to improve the services and ultimately the health of our patients.
This implies that, unlike other businesses, owning a community pharmacy requires that you have a pharmacy degree and go through some mandatory processes to register yourself and then the business with the governing body. It is quite different – in this business, people, not profit, come first. So you must have a heart for people, it’s all about the well-being of the community you serve.
What were the necessary steps you made that made you a business owner?
For me, becoming a business owner involved a lot of determination and perseverance. Outside of the mandatory training, I took out time to attend courses and training that I believed would contribute to the success of the business.
Did you require any help from other professionals to get where you are now? Who and what made the biggest impact on your business?
Yes, in business, no man is an island. I learnt a lot from my pharmacist colleagues, and I liaise with communities of business experts. The people I surround myself with have impacted the business a great deal.
As a mother entrepreneur, what do you feel should be done to inspire mother entrepreneurs and their businesses?
The millionaire and billionaire world, although speckled with women, is still dominated by men and some women find this intimidating. Furthermore, a lot more mothers have reported feeling overwhelmed by the mere thought of combining motherhood with business. For many women, becoming a mother has led to shelving aside their own life’s dreams and aspirations. For this reason, women’s empowerment must go beyond words.
It is important that funded organisations are set up to provide the necessary life mentorship and business mentorship for mothers as no school teaches a woman how to live life and achieve her dreams of becoming a mother. Many are lost as they try to find their way through this ‘maze’.
The Woman of Colour generally falls behind black men, white women, and white men in earnings, prestige, and power…
What advice would you give to women of colour entrepreneurs living in the UK? What are the inevitable difficulties they may face?
Gloria Johnson Powell, the author of ‘Growing up Black and Female’ narrates ‘If my childhood memories are filled with the ringing taunt that “Girls can’t be …,” they are further filled with the more devastating cry that “Coloured people can’t be …. ”
The odds against women of colour are double-edged. Universally, the female gender has suffered a trans-generational setback in terms of opportunities for wealth creation- pay gap, occupational patterns, institutionalised managerial patriarchy, etc. The dual influence of gender and race, however, means that the Woman of Colour generally falls behind black men, white women, and white men in earnings, prestige, and power both in business and in the workplace.
Women Wealth Insights Grantmakers brief shows that the median net worth for a single woman of colour is just $200 and the median net worth for a single white woman is $15,640. This means that the net worth of women of colour amounts to less than a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by a single white woman.
Within the race of a Woman of colour is an intricate interplay of experience, family background, association and environment, all held together by the thick chord of CULTURE. A major challenge for women of colour is the lack of mentors with similar interplay, mentors who understand them through experience and can guide them through their inevitable silent struggle.
But the three-word advice I have for women of colour is: Do not quit.