The Streets Business School: Real Life (Nigerian!) Stories Of U-30’s Going Into Business

The story you’re about to read was not copied from any book or sourced from a land far away where the grass seems greener all day. This narrative is the true life tale of a young Nigerian who has chosen to take full responsibility for his future and embark on a daring journey into the world of business. It is my hope that as you share in his experience, you’ll find your own inner courage to begin your journey towards where you know in your heart you need to go; and if you’re already on that journey, may this inspire you to stay the course till you get there. Happy reading!

 

On February 12, 2013, three months after concluding the compulsory NYSC program, I resumed as a warehouse assistant in a telecommunications company. With so many of my freshly discharged colleagues still either idle at home or pounding the streets, it was somewhat comforting to have a job.

Being a warehouse assistant wasn’t so glamorous. infact, it bordered on mundane. But ‘half-bread is better than kpof-kpof’, right (pardon my grammar- you get the point)? Sides, as I’d discover, a nigh-mundane job isn’t so bad- if you know what to do with all the free time at your disposal. I gathered experience on my job in the area of inventory management and logistics.

In October 2013, a senior colleague returned from a meeting with a bombshell- impending layoffs if some conditions at the head office warranted it. While almost every one tried to act ‘cool’, the tension was palpable. This was not what I’d hoped for- at least not so soon.

Everything that starts must have an end (at least most do)- and mine (I mean the job’s end) came in just over 365 days. On February 15, 2014, I received the equivalent of two months’ pay as my severance package. Goodbye warehouse. Hello streets.

In every normal sense, I should have been devastated. Barely a year out, and here I was, being tossed back into the very unfriendly labour market. Fear and worry were legitimate reactions but there was simply no time for that. A storm was imminent and it had to be weathered. I was faced with a new reality- either to earn a living or work myself to freedom. Those were my options.

Before I tell you about how and why I made my choice, let’s briefly revisit my time at the warehouse.

I’ve always loved information. Every day at work, I researched different opportunities, from online to offline because of my long gaze on a formula to fulfillment i.e. multiple streams of income. See, life is extremely dynamic- the worst thing you could do to yourself and your future is stand still mentally. You’ve got to keep ‘moving’. Never let your mind get into ‘park’ mode no matter how comfy you are at the moment. I kept studying on the job, listened to so many stuff online. I was just loading up on info like a junkie.

One day, I stumbled on information about the recycling business. I dug into it, and found it promising. An idea sparked up in my mind. A spark was a good start, but I needed a flame.

Fast forward to January 14, 2014, a public holiday (Eid el Maulud). I was supposed to kick-back at home (don’t you just love those public holidays?!) but a customer had pick up some materials so I volunteered to go attend to him. That day, I met this guy who had left the warehouse team just after my arrival, to go work with a recycling company. We’d lost contact- until that day we met again and got talking. I told you earlier I got a spark but I needed a flame. He brought this out as we explored serious areas in the recycling business. Truly, good fortune meets us on the extra mile.

A few weeks and several phone conversations later, we had talked about the cost of starting and the challenges involved (like sourcing for materials and how to identify materials). Every business, no matter how simple it seems on the surface has specific skills that determine your success or failure there. My interest grew with more exploration of the opportunities hidden in the recycling business. Then came Monsuru, who became my business mentor. He taught me the business fundamentals while I continued my intense private research.

The street wasn’t looking so brutal, afterall…or was it just setting me up for something else? I would soon find out.

To be continued…

Are you an U-30 entrepreneur/business person and would love to share your story and lessons you’ve learned from real-life business experiences? Your story could inspire someone and give them that final push to go for it. If you’d like to be a part of this series, we’re just a mail away. Reach us at grow360friends@gmail.com, let’s get talking. Holla!

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