I started my career as an entrepreneur in 2004 not because I wanted to become one but because i wanted to be self reliant during my University education (I summoned the courage because my background requested for it)
After my waec in 2002 I went to learn computer repair as an apprentice and I spent about 2years because I was rewriting WAEC which I later made it in 2007
At that time (when I was starting my first business) I had nothing except for my knowledge in computer repair skill, and this was how I started
I formulated a business name and made a deal with a phone booth opposite my house that I will be receiving calls using her phone and we agreed on N10/call, so I designed a business card, print it using a customer’s color printer (which would wipe off if it comes in contact with water) and I started sharing the cards with my existing customers and prospective ones, but because I stayed under my father’s roof and eat his food so I had no expenses to care for which made my charges to go far cheaper and I gathered customers beyond my capacity, same year I dominated the whole of Kaduna poly (CABS) doing repairs for virtually all the business centres, same year I bought my own phone and started raking money.
I gained so much popularity between 2004-2006 which I also got part time job with 2 different organizations within this period until December 2006 I got a full-time job with a German company (COMDEN Ltd) as a network admin in Kaduna and until February 2008 when I chose to quit and go back being a freelancer.
Then I rented an office space where I use as office and computer training center, by 2009 my savings hit N1.2m, I was saving because I needed to start a second business (I wanted to start a wireless internet distribution service ISP) but along the line I got swindled by someone far richer than me and I lost over 400k, I became short of capital but I improvised and went in to launch the internet service in late 2009, everything was automated and I enrolled for a distance learning program in University of Abuja where I studied Geography (graduated in 2015)
I was making money then and got over confidence, If I didn’t work at all I make close to 60k per month (two companies were paying me retainer-ship of 45k in total and I earn salary of 15k from my own business), I enjoyed this benefit from 2009 till 2011 when the story changed.
Everything disappeared and I couldn’t explain it, it was so devastating and I almost lost my life to depression. That was my first failure. Obviously, I was running the business with no experience, just busy making money and spending it. I vacated my 2rooms self contain and moved in with my junior brother in a room and parlour apartment where I spent 6months. I bet not everyone can survive that kind of depression.
I thought of getting married to my love thinking that can help me reduce going into deep thought (wrong decision o) which my parents supported me to achieve and I also had this friend/mentor Ordinary Ahmed Isa (of Brekete Family program in Abuja) who also played a major role in sponsoring my wedding, I knew him when he was running a program in Kaduna which we call “Oga Driver”. Anyway I got married in 2012 but please don’t try that especially when you are broke.
I read a book which later changed everything, that’s Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki. And I started looking for opportunity and that gave me clearer picture of Entrepreneurship from problem centric perspective and i later saw the gap and challenges with tomatoes in the market, then I started attending seminars and workshops, watching YouTube videos and reading books simply because I need to learn how to start a sustainable business.
I attended National Youth Summit in Abuja 2015 and same year I attended Kaduna Startup weekend where I got to learn how to raise fund and start a business.
So I raised 50k to start tomato processing business. I designed a dryer with the money I raised and dry some tomatoes then convert it into powder, with my business plans and my product samples I visited GTbank for funding without collateral but no luck, I went to Access, BOA, BOI still no luck then I summoned that courage and went to Ministry of Agric in Kaduna they have no access to funding either but they celebrated me like a star and they often invite me to attend some of their meetings and that gave me hope.
You won’t believe that because of tomatoes I was often invited to meet prominent people including a Special Assistant to Governor and eventually my team and I got to meet the governor in Kaduna.
He promised to support us and directed we put a proposal together and forward it through the office of Commissioner of Agric which we did but the letter had to pass through president of YFA (Youth for Agriculture). But due to Civil Servants factor and Nigeria Factor, our proposal was delayed and inflated. And in the end, the Governor stamped our proposal and forwarded to BOA for assistance.
Simply because I love to dare. I often click on any apply button of any grant or funding application I see and my business NaFarm Foods (registered in 2015) made it to 2016 Africa Entrepreneurship Award in Casablanca Morocco for $100k chance but we lost,
We got TEEP 2016, we made it to 1st All Africa Postharvest loss Technology Award 2017 in Kenya, pitch Agric hack 2016 in Kenya and GAIA Agtech Award 2017 in Accra Ghana
Still in the journey, But another sad story again. My team were the worst I’ve ever seen, One became obsessed with traveling, and the other with receiving grants and spend. The business slowed down until we ran out of cash, suddenly team disappeared and I chose to continue the journey alone.
With the aid of this program, “the story of an entrepreneur”
I was able to learn to manage finance on my own based on a recommended cloud accounting package
And I’m also seeking the help of organisation for my marketing rather than looking for individual team member. But to tell you I never stop attending summits and workshops, free or paid. From Kaduna to Abuja to Lagos just to learn and network.
🙏That’s how far I’ve traveled Down the Entrepreneurship journey.
By: AbdulLateef Olaosebikan.