For the past decade I have been traveling to Nigeria to explore the business opportunities in the nation, and to also empower the young people in the largest country in Africa to take ownership of their lives, while relying less on the government to meet their needs. Once in a while, I come in contact with a vibrant entrepreneur that exemplifies what it means to take control of your life, and during my recent trip to Nigeria I was not surprised when I met Francis as he shared his remarkable story with me.
After graduating from the University, and completing his NYSC in 2014 Francis was fortunate to get a job with a real estate firm, a goal that millions of Nigerians struggle to reach after graduating. His long term goal was to one day own his own estate as he was already growing fast within the sector. However, two years later, that dream was shattered as there was a big administrative decision that led to the liquidation of the firm.
There were two options at this junction for Francis, to sit at home while waiting for the next opportunity to come by, or to think outside of the box and create an opportunity for himself. He chose the latter option. During our conversation, Francis narrated his story of how he went from being unemployed to becoming an employer within one year of leaving the real estate sector.
"I had always been interested in transportation even while I worked with the firm. But when they started owing salaries and retrenching staff, I was still expected to stick around with no pay or benefits. I guess it was because I played a very key role at the company. Nevertheless, as a result of the horrible working conditions though, I decided to quit my job in 2015 and pursue my passion. I spoke to my personal cab driver, who always took me to the airport when I wasn’t driving, and he introduced me to an airport chauffeuring company." "I registered my personal vehicle as an airport taxi because I had bills to pay. 6 months down the line, business wasn’t going well. Flights were coming in and going out with thousands of passengers everyday
and yet, we at the airport weren’t getting trips. My curiosity kicked me in the back side, so I had to ask the management what was wrong. He told
me there was a new platform in town that’s more flexible, customer friendly and convenient for riders. It’s called Uber. Without missing a beat, I immediately downloaded the app and registered." "Here is the interesting part of my story. Through all this turmoil, I still somehow managed to keep my eyes on the big picture. I’ve never given up hope, on myself or my dreams. Life has its way of throwing you up and down like a roll coaster ride, but my key word has always been “focus”, eyes on the goal." "When I went to the Uber office in Abuja to register, I saw partners (car owners) and many young men (drivers) coming to look for partners. The partners didn’t know whom to entrust their vehicles, and the drivers didn’t know how to get a partner to trust them with their vehicle. As I sat there with my thoughts, watching, an idea "Mobility Services Limited” jumped right at me. It was a eureka moment!" "Yes, I started my company from the existing Uber platform. The idea of Mobility Services is to solve transportation problems, bring lasting solutions and resolve the doubts and fears that always comes to every transport investors’ mind. As a company, we take all the risks involved in finding a driver to trust, we also source for partners that want to invest in Uber business to make extra income for themselves on the side and help them manage their fleets. And all they had to do was sit back and receive their alerts weekly. My job is to monitor the drivers, follow-up on them regularly, ensure the cars were always in good condition etc. I basically take away all the hassle. I was charging 10% from their monthly funds that was remitted, for a start." "Now, the questions people often ask me is, “how did you get people to trust you with their cars? It's simple. I have three core values in this business: transparency, integrity, and referral. Let me explain, I pitch my idea clearly, open up to them about how everything works, no hidden agendas, no “corner-corner”. Then I persuade them, letting them understand and trust that their money and their investment is safe with me. I convince them with the major selling points of the investment, telling them how lucrative it is. And when I finally get the cars, I keep to the terms of agreement, fulfilling my promise and so I get referrals. Simple." Someone might also ask, how did you get your first cars? My answer is good relationships. I kept good relationships with my clients at the real estate firm. So I leveraged on this one fact “everybody wants an extra source of income no matter how intermittently it comes.” Someone bought four cars, which I started with, then I grew from there. In 6 months "with referrals", I grew to twenty and counting. The platform gave me an opportunity to expand and put my name on the map. As the future keeps looking bright, I have a clearer vision of what I really want: I’m going to own an airline. I’ll call it “Delight Air”. You should watch out for it!" "One major lesson I’ve learned through all of this is that : the Nigerian system has failed the youths. Yes, but would you rather stay back, cross your arms and legs and allow the government’s policy affect your decisions, your dreams and your life. No, don’t let that happen. Let me share this thought with you that keeps me going: do what you love and love what you do. It doesn’t matter what people think or do, trust me, what they think about you can’t pay your bills. But if you love what you do and are genuinely happy, all your hard work will definitely pay off." "I encourage everyone, especially youths in difficult systems that seem to be working against them: stay curious, stay teachable, always seek that thing you love and when you find it, work hard at it."
After hearing Francis' story, I was deeply moved mainly because he did not allow the obstacles that hinders many of his peers to hold him back.
One thing is for sure, anyone who desires to be successful must make it their aim to seek out opportunities and act on them, that is the only way to escape the world of lack and poverty.