Nike Babalola is a local resident and business owner of Senami, a disability and mental health service based at Anderson Walk in Smithfield, which has experienced significant growth since its establishment in 2018.
Having worked in the social services sector since the age of 23, Nike cannot imagine doing anything else.
I love the feeling of helping people make progress, especially when clients come back to say ‘I thrived because of the support you provided.’
Already equipped with a wealth of experience working in the development services sector in Nigeria, Nike first came to Australia in 2009 and studied public policy and social research at the prestigious Australia National University in Canberra.
After experiencing one too many cold Canberra winter mornings, Nike decided to move to Adelaide. Here she went on to study social work at Flinders University – a degree she says is really important background knowledge for those working in Australia’s disability and mental health services.
With a hearing impediment and sensorineural hearing loss that makes it difficult for her to work in large and noisy offices, Nike came to learn that the best way for her to serve the community was by offering a one-on-one counselling and therapy service that truly play to her strengths.
Fortuitously, just as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began to ramp up, Nike formed Senami from her home in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
As her client base began to grow, and request increasingly diverse services, Nike knew she required support to meet the demand. This is where the City of Playford’s business support service delivered by the Stretton Centre was useful.
“I first heard about the Stretton Centre when I applied for funding through the Small Business Development Fund. “My application was rejected, however the Stretton Centre’s business support team advised me that the application still had great potential, it just needed to be fine-tuned.”
Nike worked with the Stretton Centre’s business support team to develop her application and was eventually successful in her application to secure $20,000 in matched funding. Nike recalls this as a significant moment in her business journey.
“I no longer needed to worry about the cost of equipment, instead I was able to focus on growing my business, getting out there and networking. “It was a huge weight off of my shoulders.”
As Nike explains, the business support team were able to help with so much more than just funding.
“They were amazing, they kept encouraging me to go further by always sharing relevant upcoming opportunities and connecting me with local business leaders. “Those connections were key in the early stages – especially as someone relatively new to Adelaide, and Australia.”
Eventually Nike decided to move her business out of her home and into the Stretton Centre’s shared working space. A decision she describes as ‘financially perfect.’
“The cost to run your business from the Stretton Centre is very low and it really helps in the early stages as you grow.”
Now that Nike has moved into an independent office location, she can really appreciate some of the simple benefits of basing her business from the Stretton Centre you might take for granted while there.
“It removes a lot of the stresses from your standard day in the office, things as simple as replacing paper in the printer, or resolving printer issues were all handled for me.”
Senami’s business growth saw Nike’s requests for dedicated desk spaces increase, and eventually she moved into one of the private offices at the Stretton Centre and then two. Now Nike has moved her team to an independent office location to their new home at 16 Anderson Walk, an 800sqm site with ample opportunities to expand.
As Nike grows her business she feels a sense of responsibility invest back into the community.
Up to 95 percent of my staff live in the Playford area and I am confident that as I continue to grow the business I can keep recruiting local people.