FROM UNDERAGE SCHOOL DROP OUT TO MOTORCYCLES WASHER TO SPARE PARTS AND BUILDING MATERIALS DISTRIBUTOR
I was born to peasant farmers who were not able to provide the government approved levy in the primary school as at the year 2000. I stopped schooling at the age of 10 years due to my poor parental background.
My parents told me not to worry I should start following them to farm since there is no money to pay my government approved levy of N50 termly in school. I went with my parents to farm for two days and on our way back I saw some pupils returning from school with books which cause me to cry with the load on my head as I returned from the farm.
I became discouraged of going to farm and told my parents that I cannot follow them any longer to the farm. So I decided to start something that could give me some money in order to pay my government approved levy.
This took me to a small stream at Ukpe branch or junction, a suburb in Obudu, where I started washing motorcycles for N 10 each. I could wash two or three a day when there is heavy rain because of the deplorable nature of Ukpe urban road as at then.
Then that small business of washing motorcycles, the sum of N200 was saved and one of my friends, Ebegim Ushie also saved same amount. I asked him to borrow me the money to do one business that came to my mind, when he consented he gave me the money.
I took the money to Obudu main Town and measured N400 engine oil which I sold and gained N100. There was a high turnover that I was buying up to five times a week. The N200 I collected from my friend was returned to him with an appreciation.
The business continued with high turnover. That motivated me to join a club where we contributed N400 a week and total money was N18,000 for each of us. I collected the donation and added N2,000 from my personal saving which made it N20,000 and a motorcycle as at then was sold for N25, 000.
I summoned courage and met a dealer and gave him the 20,000 to give me a motorcycle to ride as commercial and balance him. The dealer accepted and released the motorcycle to me. I rode the motorcycle for two months and went and balance the dealer the N5, 000 and the particulars of the motorcycle were handed over to me. The dealer said “I give this motorcycle to you because of your age, I don’t sell motorcycle on credit”
I continued in the business and my story went round the local government that an underage boy is doing Okada. I was arrested by Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC on ‘Odama’ Market day for underage riding, when I narrated what prompted me becoming Okada, they took pity on me and exonerated me.
I saved from that motorcycle and bought another motorcycle and gave to Livingstone from Kutia on hire purchase. What was generated from there was used to purchase another motorcycle for Ugebe John on hire purchase.
The business kept growing but I was no longer comfortable riding on the road due to harmattan cold, that made me to start up another small business of selling motorcycle spare parts. That was also borne out of my desire to reduce the stress of motorcyclists going to Obudu to get new spare parts to replace the worn out ones.
The business started very well and my age enables me to enjoy patronage from motorcyclists. All these were done as drop out. My quest for education did not die; hence I went to complete my primary education and enrolled in secondary school which I completed in 2007. I have been an admission seeker to any of the universities since 2012.
Since admission was not coming, I decided to expand my business by opening another machine spare parts shop at Bayobri, Ukpe. The money I saved for my education in University was used to build a five bedroom flat since I could not get admission that year.
My zeal in business increased and another business came to me. That is to attach building materials because of stiff competition I received from other businesses in my area. Other persons came up with machine spare parts business but I desired to enlarge the scope of my business. That led to the introduction of cement and other building materials.
The business was very lucrative and expansion of the business to the hinterland was done immediately. From the Head Office, Ukpe branch I decided to open shops in Okweriseng, Ufambe all in Ubang village and youths are employed to manage the shops.
Às the business expanded, I bought a pick up van to convey materials to buyers’ destination. I employed a driver to do the conveyance. Youths are engaged in loading and offloading of materials. Sales boys and girls are employed and somebody’s life has been touched.
THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES:
Many opportunities abound in any business one embarks on. One of the opportunities that help to sustain my business and expanded it to the feat it is today is confidence. In fact, it was not an easy task to start a business with such a small amount of N400; but I remain committed, dedicated and focused in the management of the business.
A lot of challenges arose that would have brought me down but the spirit of commitment and dedication surmounted those challenges. The location of the business count in business. My business is located in the rural area and in my own village. Doing business in your village where everybody knows you is not easy, you are surrounded by family members and friends and in order to succeed you need to have managerial efficiency.
People feel that doing business at home is not rewarding but the story is not true because business is all about initiating good ideas that will impact positively on you and the society at large. This business has left much to be desired in my local community.
There is also the belief that Cross River have unfavorable business environment which sometime scare away young men and women from doing business here. Adaptation to the environmental condition of the place where business is done and one’s ability to influence the business environment is paramount.
I struggled to influence the environment and I was able to succeed in this business. Money to start was not a barrier, boldness and commitment paves way to the numerous achievement recorded so far.
THE LESSONS THAT ARE WORTH LEARNING:
One of the lessons that is worth learning is placing value on time. It is said that the poorest man in the world is not the one without money but one who does not place value on time. It is otherwise said punctuality is the soul of business. It is also a known fact that money flow to good ideas. Without good business ideas no man gets money.
I have also discovered that if you want to be on top you have to be awake when people are sleeping. For instance I do leave my bed at 5.00am to go to my shop when some people are still sleeping. Also, extravagant spending should not be a slogan in business. You need to limit your rate of spending so that the business continues to grow.
THE KEY TO MY SUCCESS SO FAR AND MY VISION FOR THE FUTURE:
Success is said to be a reward for hardworking and commitment. In fact, I have focused in whatever I do. Challenges have not been a barrier to me. Asking God for direction also contributed to my success. Giving time for your business will surely make you succeed.
I have devoted all my time to my business hence I succeeded. I have created a business that is seen to be new and people feel it will not flourish in the locality. I have also exhibited honesty in the business over the years.
My vision for the future is to continue to expand my business to accommodate over 100 employees. I want to make the business an enterprise, where I can import goods from other countries and contribute to the development of my state.
Godwin Utubakwu, CEO (Goddy Best Shops) Ukpe Branch, Ukwortung, Utugwang, Obudu, Cross River State.
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