Diary of a Struggling Nigerian Entrepreneur
‘20 naira in the bank is not the same as 20 naira in hand’. My name is Ify. This is my latest discovery and I am willing to die on this hill.
As a fresh graduate, faced with a dearth of job opportunities, I was forced to start a business like every other youth in the country. It was heart breaking having to study Law for 6 years, and a compulsory NYSC year, only to come out to start selling Spaghetti on Twitter. If anyone had said I would be picking orders instead of cases, I would have asked Amadioha to strike the person dead. From childhood, I was nicknamed ‘Baby Lawyer.’ Apart from the fact that I ran to study Law, to avoid Math, it was what I was really good at. Chika and Dolapo, my closest friends had sold human hairs and clothes back in school and I reiterated that business was not for me. I honestly never enjoyed it. Maybe it was the consistent binging on Suits. The Hollywood series that made Law practice look so magical. I day dreamt of walking into court rooms with my designer shirts on corporate skirts, hugging my skin, with a length slightly past my knee and hot stiletto heels. In my head, I was Olivia Pope, ready to fix things in the Nigerian justice system. My first 8 months in a law firm, I earned N60,000 monthly with hard labour. I ran miscellaneous errands more than I did whatever had to do with what I spent 6 years in Law School for. I was bamboozled. Reality started checking in. The day I decided to start selling spaghetti was the day I had done school run for my boss’s kids for the fifth day in a row.
I did the little math I could on paper. I calculated little profit and decided to use my Twitter account to sell food. I cried and felt ashamed at first, but shame was not going to buy food nor send my younger brother money when he called from School.
The business kicked off and was amazed at the patronage. I personally went to offices to sell my Spaghetti and that move was the defining decision for me. As an online business, I did a lot of transactions with my bank’s digital app. Actually, my former bank! In secondary school days, Accounting students had always dreaded when accounts did not balance. This was my new nightmare. I frequently transferred money to delivery guys, to my goat meat plug, to my plantain dealer and groundnut oil plug. I bought the remaining items at Ikotun market to save costs, but the profit I calculated on paper was never the same with the balance in my business account. It was enough to make one run mad. Especially for someone like me that barely made N150 profit off a single plate of Spaghetti.
I literally took a day off to look for my money in my bank account. It was a serious problem for me because, I was still struggling to break even on paper calculations, much more with the new magic I was experiencing on my bank balance. One minute I had a round figure balance, the next minute it turned to decimal numbers and for someone who hated Math, Panadol capsules had to stay close because of the migraine and anxiety those invisible subtractions triggered. I traced the incoherence to the N20-N50 charges on every transfer I made, the N50 stamp duty charges and the card maintenance fees. My bank was notorious for sending me debit alerts if I did as little as sneeze. The worst part was that I never got a ‘thank you for banking with us’ or a ‘we want to tell you that we see your small balance, accept our condolences’ credit alert, just to make a customer happy. For a new business owner, I felt helpless, because after all, every bank was the same. I had called the Customer Care to make complaints, but the man at the end joked that ‘N20 deduction should be unnoticeable for a big woman like you’. I became angry all over again remembering how, on one particular Saturday, I had calculated the last N20,000 in my account to pay Wasiu N10,000 for goat meat, Aunty Stella N8,000 for groundnut oil and Mama Victory N2,000 for plantain. I had only paid Wasiu and Aunty Stella, before I got the ‘insufficient balance’ notice and I was dessert dry on my other accounts. Hot tears!
It was a week later when I realised that all banks were not the same. Don Jazzy had tweeted about a new digital bank that was seamless and had zero bank charges with monthly interests. It was too good to be true. It honestly felt unbelievable. V Bank was my miracle. In fact, I started telling all my entrepreneur friends to download the bank app. It became a ‘patron saint’ for struggling entrepreneurs like me.
I presently, no longer have to rack my head looking for my money in my bank account. No matter how much and how many times I transacted with the app, I was not charged a kobo. If the owners of the bank could read this, I just want to inform them that they saved this young entrepreneur from losing her mind and I am sticking with them forever. The toxic relationship with my former bank is over and I have V Bank, my new lover to thank.