The Wood Seller Who is a Business Admin Graduate

“However, you don’t need much money to start. You can start with anything you have. Before starting any business, make investment findings to avoid mistakes and losses. Ask for divine direction and trust God to do the rest.”


If you’ve crossed the Third Mainland Bridge, you may have seen well-arranged floating logs of wood on the water. To the newbies who don’t know anything, they may wonder who it’s for and why it’s there. We visited the legendary Makoko Wood Market to explore the working life of one of the numerous merchants there.


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Mr Ajenifuja Adejare. I am from Osun State.

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What was it like growing up?

I was born and raised in Lagos Island. I am one of 5 children. My father was a police officer at the time. My parents wanted me to study Medicine or Law at the university. I also shared the same dream. However, immediately after I finished my secondary schooling, I decided to look for a job before gaining admission to the university. I love hustling; I hate being broke, and having a police officer as a father did not stop me from doing petty jobs.

Tell us about your education. 

I attend Obalende Primary School and Falomo High School, both in Lagos State. After secondary school, I attended Lagos State Polytechnic to study Business Administration.


What did you dream of becoming as a young person?

I dreamed of being a medical doctor, but God had other plans for me. I am quite fulfilled in what I am doing now, as business has always been a part of me.


Are you married?

Yes, I am married with two children. My wife works as a storekeeper in Lekki. We have been married for almost ten years.


Where do you live, and how much is your rent?

I stay in a two-bedroom flat at Ibafo in Ogun state. The annual rent is N210,000. Houses are not cheap again, unlike before. I plan to gather money to finish my house in this community. Rent prices are always on the rise.


How much was your daily or weekly income when you started the business?

Your customers determine your daily income. Regardless of the low business turnout,  the least daily take-home is about N100,000.00. The weekly take-home could be millions or more. We constantly pray for better days ahead regardless of how business turns out.


Who are your customers, and how do you source wood for them?

I have several customers. Some come from Lagos Mainland and Island. Most of them are carpenters and site engineers.

We don’t source wood. Instead, we buy from people whose major job is wood sourcing.


Tell us about where you get the wood. Do you encounter disturbances from the government or local communities?

Most times, we come in contact with indigenes of local communities. They call themselves the omo onile.  We have to pay before they can cut trees. I don’t know if any money is paid to the government.


How much does it cost to buy these boats you use?

I have no idea. Instead of buying, we rent the boats anytime we need them.


Explain to me how your job works.

There are different people with different job descriptions.  The ones who move the boats often bear the most risk. In windy situations on the water, the woods may sink, causing the owner to lose money. Other times, there may be wood breakage, or the tugboat may find it difficult to make a U-turn, leading to wood loss. The people who bring in the wood are often at the most risk as it involves people controlling and supporting the tugboat. Sometimes, they spend three months on the water before arriving in Lagos.


Do you work for yourself, or are you your own boss?

I work for someone. I manage this place for my boss. He is a nice boss, and I have worked with him for over 20 years. I started as a storekeeper before moving up the ladder to become an operator. I give him a weekly report of activities in the shop.

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How much capital does a person need to start this business?

Remember, I work for someone. However, you don’t need much money to start. You can start with anything you have. Before starting any business, make investment findings to avoid mistakes and losses. Ask for divine direction and trust God to do the rest.


Do you know how much the tree saw machine costs?

The tree saw machine is one of the essential machines we use at the sawmill. The last time I checked, the machine cost 10 million naira. I don’t know if the price has increased or decreased. Most people buy the fairly used ones because they are less expensive.


Which is safer? Transporting wood on water or the road?

I prefer water to road transport. It is straightforward and convenient. It also reduces accidents on the road.


Do you encounter any dangers in this business?

No work exists without accompanying dangers; we just have to be extra careful while doing our job. There have been several mishaps with the saw machine. Some persons have lost a limb from the machine or from wood accidentally falling on them while cutting wood. However, there has been a marked decrease in accident incidence in both the market and the bush.


How much do you spend on healthcare?

I just visit the hospital for regular checkups, so I don’t spend much.


What are the most important factors to make a profit in this business?

There is not much profit in this work. We always constantly buy and sell, so we don’t hold on to cash for long. There are instances where we buy a log of wood for N2,000.00, but on getting it may discover that it is dried up and useless. In a situation like that, we have no choice but to sell it for a cheaper amount; N1,500.00. Sometimes, we run on profit and other times, on loss.


Are your children involved in this business?

No. My children are pretty young. I won’t discourage them if they develop an interest in the business after their schooling.


How does your union work, and what are the advantages of being a member?

You can only do business in the market by being a union member. The union members offer financial and physical assistance to each other, even in cases of emergency. Just as every market has a union and chairman, so is this place. If anything happens, the chairman informs us, and we, the members, deliberate on the matter and devise a way forward.

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What do I have to do if I want to start the business today?

All you need to start is money. Once you have money, you are good to go. After that, you only need to visit the market heads. They will advise you on your next course of action.


How long have you been doing this, and how much longer do you see yourself doing it?

I have been in the wood business for over 20 years. I know the business so well that if I left it today for something else, I would have to start afresh. Hopefully, I will own my shop someday. It is a desire I have been nurturing for some time. Even if I don’t own my shop, I would love my boss to lease this place to me. I will inform him of my plans and decisions when I am ready. Hopefully, the feedback will be favourable.

Do you have any plans or dreams to venture into something else?

I have no plans yet.


What type of work would you like to venture into?

I would love to have my store or leave this country for Canada with my family.

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