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29 Jul 2017

How ‘People make a lot of money per second in Nigeria’

Mr. Patrick Anyatonwu is the managing director of Forefathers Equipment Company. He also founded Forefathers Cooperative Society and other businesses. He has written two books on money and how one could navigate one’s way in business and be successful. In this interview with OKORIE UGURU, he talks about his foray into business, his challenges, failures and successes, and shares business ideas with emerging entrepreneurs, excerpts:
YOU are the managing director of Forefather Leasing Company Limited and I know you are in a couple of other businesses. Talk to our readers about your businesses.

I run Forefathers Leasing Company Limited; I also run Forefathers Cooperative Society. I am the founder of Metchidezek Peace Initiatives and one or two others. A company is just like a file gathering dust in an attorney’s office.

I once did 10 years in journalism. I also worked in a company called Travelex, yet I was not fulfilled. I wanted to do something. I ventured into real estate in 2007 and 2008. I left and joined a certain man called Mr. Eric Opah who was into logistics (Fortune Global Logistics). I stayed there for 18 months. After that period, I believed that I have learnt enough to start something. For me, there is a limit that you can use your creativity when you are working for somebody. You always do what he wants you do and not what you want to do. So, when I left Fortune Global Logistics, I came and started Forefathers Leasing.

There is a vacuum that people need to understand-that they can lease an item that would assist them increase their cash-flow without necessarily buying it. Bad enough for us, the word leasing is extremely elitist.  What people know about is hire purchase, but there is a remarkable difference between hire purchase and leasing. So, what we decided to do was what we call micro-leasing. What we do is that we help that small man or woman in the market that, maybe, is selling tomatoes and possibly the cost of the tomatoes is N60,000 or N20,000, but if he or she gets a grinding machine to boost sales, that means he or she can earn more money. We now identified and isolated those people, we started giving them small equipments. We have this for tricycles too. I can’t even count the number that we have leased out. What we are saying in essence is that we have empowered our area in within, Okota, Ago Palace Way in Oshodi-Isolo council area and Amuwo Odofin-Festac area within Lagos and we plan reaching to other parts of the country.

We also noticed that there are some women, they want to do something but there is no money. They don’t need so much money to start to sell groundnuts, plantain and so on. So, we now incorporated a group, an NGO called Motherhood Initiatives. We grouped them in fives or tens and give them N20,000 at the first case, when they pay back, we could increase to 30,000 and so on. We noticed that there were abuses, so we stopped.

We noticed that a lot people do not want to do anything because of the system. They see the so called yahoo yahoo boys, because some of them are making money, somebody leaving school, would not be interested in looking for a job. He is not interested to find out what he can actually do. See, there is a hurdle everybody must pass. The first hurdle is that you must understand why you are here to do. What is your chief goal in life? If it is true that man is wonderfully and fearfully made, which means his being here is not accidental. There is a vacuum that God saw before bringing man. That means your coming here is pre-destined, there is something you must do, but most people do not even know what they are doing.

From what you have done within the micro and small scale businesses, do you actually believe that there are opportunities for people to make money here in Nigeria through business?

People make money daily, people make lots of money per second. The fact is that you must be prepared to isolate a need. Let me give you an example, somebody came in here…normally we don’t do it, for us to lease our tricycle, you must bring advance rental, one boy came here, he had only sixty thousand naira, normally we charge N100,000. But when I saw the zeal in him, I said okay, give us the sixty thousand and we gave him a tricycle. My brother, within four months, he had paid up. After sometime, I encouraged him, I mentored him. Today, as we are talking, he has 10 tricycles on the road. So, the person who is determined, you will make money but you must identify where do you want to play, you have to be consistent.  See, in anything you do, you must fail in the process of doing it, but when you become consistent, nature would bring help to you. People are making money and they must continue to make money. To make money, are you prepared to learn.

It is as if recession is not in your vocabulary…

See, there are four industries that no matter what happens, they must remain afloat. One is the drug industry. Drug is one product you don’t negotiate the price most times. When a pharmacy tells you the price is one thousand naira, you pay, unless you are asking for another brand. Another one is food industry. You must eat food. I don’t know what the government of the day is doing about agriculture. If you have a farm, you can tell the chicks in your poultry farm or the fishes you have in the pond that ‘hold on I am coming oh, I will give you food tomorrow.’ They must eat. Human beings must eat. Agriculture is so huge that there is no way that when a person goes into eat, he cannot make money. See, you can rear snails in a bucket. Snails eat leaves, so each man can remove pride and come down to the level where he will begin to see opportunities. Another one is the transport industry. Man must move from point A to B. man was not created to stay in a place. There must be movement. That is an industry that cannot go bad. Another one is the sex industry. I don’t know how it is, it is the need of man. I know Christians, born agains, would not want to go into the sex industry. So, any anyone who is entangled in these industry…you are a tourism expert and you know that tourism booms in such environment.

It is time for the Nigerian government to begin to look at these areas that people are in need of and begin to channel energy and resources to such areas.

In other words if people are complaining there are no business opportunities you believe they have not done their home work?

That woman that is teaching in primary school that is paid N10,000, why won’t she find a place and sell Akara? The fact is that we have imbibed so much pride to our system, to our body that we don’t want to do those things we consider belittling. The mallam that one employs is into small business. He sells something at the gate. That person that would not want to do such thing would come to him to borrow money to go for an interview in immigration or whatsoever, but he wouldn’t want to do such thing.

As I am talking to you now so many graduates are into commercial cycling. They make incomes. But I always tell them after one year, sell, buy another one because of wears and tears.

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