When Chinedu Okorafor arrived Lagos in 2016 to make it and not to count bridges, he arrived with the following earthly possessions: ₦1,000, two jeans trousers, two shirts and a bagco sack bag.
Inside the bagco sack bag were his toothbrush, comb and a few other personal effects.
But Chinedu Okorafor also carried along with him the Igbo success DNA called Equianoism – a determination to succeed through resourcefulness, inspiration and/or generosity.
Once Chinedu arrived Lagos, he started hawking Gala sausage rolls, popularly known just as gala. It was not a get-rich-quick scheme: he was making a profit of just ₦5 on each gala sold.
Opera News quotes Chinedu as revealing that he used to sell an average of 300 packets of gala daily, thanks to the the huge Mile 2 traffic. He would run after cars, selling them gala.
So, let’s do a little calculation: 300 packets of gala multiplied by the ₦5 profit for each unit adds up to ₦1,500.
That’s how much Chinedu realized daily. So, monthly, Chinedu was raking in about ₦40,000. He wasn’t an office worker, but he was making this in every month!
After 6 months Chinedu became restless to expand his business. After some market research he moved to Oshodi.
That was a masterstroke as he started selling over 10 cartons daily
That was a masterstroke as he started selling over 10 cartons daily. That meant he was now making about ₦150,000 each month!
When Chinedu travelled back to his village for the annual Christmas break , he spoke to many unemployed youths in his village about making an income from selling gala in Lasgidi. Several of them were convinced by his pitch.
In January, he returned to Lagos with 12 young men who were willing to hustle hard in the gala business.
His suppliers, convinced that Chinedu could make them lots of money sold gala sausage rolls to him at wholesale price. Chinedu then resold to his 12 employees with 30% off their supposed profit.
Everyone was happy.
Chinedu would provide these 12 with accommodation and dinner in the early days.
Chinedu chose to continue running after cars in the Lagos heat hawking gala like his recruits instead of settling down in a cosy air-conditioned office.
By the end of 2018, Chinedu’s 12 had become 100 enterprising men and women.
He now makes more than ₦500,000 monthly (around ₦3,000 from each of the recruits under him, that is ₦300,000) plus another ₦250,000 in direct sales from his personal hustle.
Now he has expanded into Pure Bliss wafers, plantain chips and even drinks.
Snack and beverage manufacturers now approach him with juicy discounts so he can sell off their products.
His town is happy that one of its sons, though not a government official, has provided means of income for a good number of its sons and daughters.
Ted Talker Robert Neuwirth was right when he said the Igbo apprenticeship system is the world’s largest business incubator.
This is just one example of that gigantic business incubator in action.
A Call For Non-Igbo Governors To Imitate Fayose
Others can learn the Igbo trading model. Then Governor Ayo Fayose once sent some youths from Ekiti State to Onitsha to learn trading from Igbo traders.
This is something other non-Igbo state administrations can do. Not everyone will succeed because not everyone is interested in trading business (some might prefer a cosy office in some big business corporation).
But those who are interested and commited would learn some useful income-generating skills.