Adaezenwa brought it to my attention that a lot of you might think this is a new story. It is not. I posted the first episode here and I thought I had concluded it. Obviously, I haven’t. I hope you read the beginning if you haven’t and follow the series from there! And comment.
It was a heart wrenching 2 weeks. Just as I suspected, I got the first job I had interviewed for but I held off my acceptance of it until they announced who had gotten the position at the second place I interviewed. While I waited, I helped my dad pack up my mom’s belongings. When we got to my mom’s closet, he walked out. The pain was too fresh. I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to pack her clothes so I picked and boxed her shoes and her hats. I saved her jewelry box for him. I wasn’t sure what he’d want to do with it. Then I continued putting her shoes in boxes. Until my hand touched something soft on the closet floor. I gently carried it out. It was my mother’s worn shawl. The first birthday present I ever gave her. I lifted it to remind myself of how she smelled and a big brown envelope fell out, landing squarely in my laps. The spooky thing was, this envelope was addressed to me. I was gently easing it open when I got the call. I had gotten the job.
I called my father joyfully, to tell him the good news and in my excitement, I dropped the envelope in my bedroom to read it later.
A while after I came back from my travels, I shelved my plans to psychoanalyse the world or maybe just Lagos. Instead, an idea that formed on my journeys had me venturing into the uncharted waters of entrepreneurship.
In my travels, I had taken note of the prices at which farmers sold their harvested crops to the wholesalers or drivers and the ways they were being scammed. It made my blood boil to find out that these same wholesalers would then come to Lagos to sell at about 300% profit to the retailers, most of whom would then ensure that they made 200% in profit. So for instance, by the time a 300 naira basket of tomatoes from Benue gets to Lagos, it is sold to the retailer at N1200. And the retailer would then sell it to the final consumer at N1800. What irritated me the most though was that failure to sell at such a low price would mean acres of wastage.
I was angry enough to create a business plan which ensured that the farmers would at least be able to break even. And because I personally wanted to break even, I asked Bunmi to look over my plans before I initiated them. That was a year back. Now ABIM Foods employs about 50 people, we have a factory that produces tomato paste, both in cans and sachets. We started exporting tomato paste a month back and we’re currently looking into expanding into other foodstuffs. Best yet, the farmers were able to break even and even make a profit. I’m happy with myself. I know Iris is happy with me too.
I accepted the second job as soon as it was offered to me. But I was right. I was extremely busy. Between looking for opportunities for CSR, filing reports, market research and interviewing factory workers for another branch of the factory, I barely had time to see my current friends, talk less of making new ones. And I didn’t see Ebube again.
Then one Saturday morning, before I got up to make breakfast, my eye drifted to the envelope my mom had addressed to me. It was time I opened it.
Have you heard of Athousand1000?
It’s an initiative set up by 4 people. It has not yet been registered as an NGO though.
The objective of the initiative, is to get a thousand people to commit to donating a thousand naira every month. The collated money is then used to ease and improve the quality of life of Internally Displaced Persons in Borno and other states where Boko Haram has rampaged.
Check them out here.