Working Lives

Working Lives: The Vendor Who Got Start Up Loan from LAPO Microfinance Bank

Working Lives – Newspaper Vendors

This weekend, our focus is on newspaper vendors around Lagos, learning about their respective journeys to the business. And why not? If you are a Nigerian that stays in Lagos (we can’t speak for other states), make a visit to a newspaper stand every morning and you are sure to meet different categories of people buying papers along with a mix of young and old people discussing topics that range from sports to politics. Well, it’s more like screaming their lungs to blandness, arguing over anything and everything. They gather around the newspaper stand, which they most likely will not buy from, and care little about how the stand got there. Not like they are supposed to anyway.

Working Lives: The Vendor Who Got Start Up Loan from LAPO Microfinance Bank

Ebube Charles- Ikeja

“I think every vendor’s best day will be when it does not rain, the rain spoils business for us.” 

Where are you from?

I am from Anambra state.

Please, tell us about your education.

I had my primary and secondary school education in Anambra State. The usual story, there was no money to further my education.

Tell us about your family.

I come from a family of 7 and I am the third child. My dad also happened to be a newspaper vendor just before he died, my mom was a teacher in a primary school in one of the government public schools in Anambra State.

When did you get to Lagos?

I came to Lagos after my secondary school education in 2008. My dad died when I was writing my last paper. I can never forget that day, they broke the news to me while I was still in the exam hall. He had a stroke and had been battling with it for a while.

Where do you live/how much is the rent?

When I got to Lagos, I was living with a friend from the village. He was into selling spare parts, not like he was the one running the business, he was still working under his boss. But he was doing fairly OK for a Lagos boy. So, I squatted with him for almost 2 years just before I could gather enough money to get a place and start staying on my own. I live in a bedroom self-contain in Ojota. I pay N6,000 as monthly rent.

How did you start working as a newspaper vendor?

The moment I got to Lagos, I started looking for what I could be doing that was going to bring me money. The initial plan was to work under the same boss that my friend was under, but when I arrived in Lagos, someone else had already taken my spot and he could not accept an extra person. So, I resorted to supplying pure water nylon, I was always going to pure water factories to get their waste i.e. nylon that is not good while producing or those that are badly processed. So, I gather these nylons and then take them to a Chinese company here in Ikeja that recycles them. I was getting about N10,000 from that monthly but it was stressful so I decided to go into my late father’s business and I was able to use the money to start the newspaper business.

How much did it cost you to establish?

It cost me about N30,000 to start. I didn’t really need much.

What and how much did you spend on before starting out?

I just had to pay a carpenter to make a table and a bench for me, and then I also bought that very big umbrella. And then I settled agberos with N5,000 for space.

Did you get a bank loan?

Yes, I did. The money I was able to gather went to house rent and all that, so I still had to go to LAPO Microfinance Bank to borrow N100,000. But I only used N30,000 out of the N100,000 to start the business. I saved the rest for the rainy days.

How much did you pay back and after how long did you return the loan?

It took me just six months to pay back, business was really booming. You know, being in the center of Lagos, Ikeja, which is always busy. So, I get a lot of customers, I hardly close for the day with a paper left. I always sell everything. I paid back N120,000.

Who supplies the newspaper to you?

There’s an agent that supplies to me every morning. The newspaper companies supply to him in bulk and then he distributes or we go to his depot and collect. I make weekly payments to him and he supplies for that week.

How does the payment plan work with your supplier?

I make weekly payments to him and he supplies for that week. I pay as much as N45,000 depending on the number of papers I will be getting that week and then I balance him whatever is left at the end of the week.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Vendor Who Used to Work in Coca-Cola

Do newspaper companies reward their customers in any way?

Yes, they do. But it hasn’t been happening lately, probably because of the way the economy is. But 3-4 years ago, I was always getting gifts like food flask, notebooks, umbrella, and all that.

What were you doing before you started as a newspaper vendor?

The only job I did was that pure water nylon business I talked about. Like I said earlier I was buying bad nylons from factories for a cheaper price, I sometimes pick randomly on the street or where a party was just thrown. I then assemble them and take to the factory where they recycle to sell.

How many hours do you work in a day?

I get to my spot at 7 o’clock and then I close at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

What’s your best day like on the job?

I think every vendor’s best day will be when it does not rain, the rain spoils business for us.

Your worst day or experience on the job?

I don’t think I have had any, let’s just continue to thank God for his uncommon favors.

Who are your main clients?

I have a lot of offices that I supply to here in Ikeja. Those are my main clients like you have asked. They buy in bulk for their senior staff and that of course brings me more profit.

How much do you make in sales daily/weekly?

I make about N25,000-30,000 daily, you know I am a big supplier so that helps a lot.

How much do you spend in a day?

I have a bike, so I hardly spend so much, apart from fueling my bike. I always eat when I get home in the afternoon. I get to spend just N1,500 fueling my bike.

What other things do you spend money on?

My children’s school fees, now that schools have resumed, a lot of expenses are rolling in. I also spend on house rent, foodstuff, and sending money to my mother back home. All of these take almost N50,000 from me monthly.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Vendor Who Met and Married Saki Townsman in Mushin

For how long have you been in the business?

I have been in the business for almost 9 years now.

Are you married/looking forward to marrying?

Yes, I am happily married with 2 kids.

How much do you save in a month? 

I save N10,000 monthly. I save more sometimes though if I have more money in my account for that month.

Do you have plans to venture into something else apart from this business?

Not really, apart from expanding the business. I plan to have more newspaper stands and hire someone to oversee things for me.

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