Coping In A Pandemic: The Mother Of Three Counting Her Blessings

March 12, 2021

 

The subject of this story makes her money from selling soap and kerosene. She talks about how losing her job 18 years ago changed everything and how a social enterprise she belongs to made all the difference for her in 2020. 

Do you remember when you started your business?

18 years ago. I used to be a secretary at an insurance company before I lost my job. My husband also lost his job at the same time. Banks and insurance companies were merging at the time, and we were among those who were affected.

That must have been tough. 

It was. We didn’t have any money. My company gave me about ₦120k, and most of it went into finding a new house. We were in a 3-bedroom flat and had to come down to a room and parlour. 

Do you want to know the toughest part of this? Changing my children’s school from a private school to a public school. I cried when I realised that we had no choice but to change their schools. 

I’m sorry. 

I got a shop, but I didn’t know the kind of business I wanted to do or have money to stock up the place. My friend introduced me to a lady who had just started a social enterprise — Mamamoni — and was training people on how to make soap. I think I was one of the first people she trained. I opened my shop and started making and selling soap and toilet wash. 

How did you raise money to start this?

One of my sisters gave me ₦100k, and that was it. I also started selling kerosene and using what I made to take care of my family. 

Have you had to raise more capital since you started?

Yes. A lot of times. Mamamoni has been helping a lot with that. I collect loans from her when I need them and pay her back. I think the first loan I collected was ₦10k, but I’ve collected up to ₦150k loan at a time. Also, I’m a leader in the community. So when people collect a loan from the organisation, they give me the money, and I pay it into the bank account. 

How has your business evolved since you started?

The soap business hasn’t changed a lot. I used to buy kerosene and store it in a tank. But one time, I bought it in large quantities at ₦150 per litre. A week later, the price came down to ₦50. It was a great loss for me. When I managed to sell everything, I found out that I couldn’t afford selling from a tank anymore. So I started storing the market inside gallons. That’s what I’m still managing till now.

How much does this typically bring in profit?

Sometimes, ₦10k. At other times, ₦7k. When the market moves very well, I can make ₦15k. But if the market comes down, I have to bear the loss. 

How have you been taking care of your family from this?

I manage oh. I don’t depend on anybody. And things are working out. My daughter will soon graduate from university. If not for Covid, she would have left. One of my boys has just finished secondary school and my last boy is about to write WAEC. When it’s time to pay my house rent, I use my savings. If it’s not enough, I take a small loan to complete the rest.

Do you pay interest on the loans you get?

There is a small interest. People don’t give women loans with no collateral, so Mamamoni stands in for us. 

Interesting. How do you manage to save after taking care of your basic expenses?

I work with Mamamoni and help her train women on how to start businesses, and I get ₦20k at the end of the month. I save that in my account. I’m also in a daily contribution program and put ₦500 in it every day. I don’t touch the money unless a need arises — usually rent and other family needs.

That’s great. How was 2020 for you?

I don’t think I would have survived it if I had faced it alone. I had access to palliatives because of the organisation I belong to, so food wasn’t a problem. But some people around me had it worse. I saw how the pandemic affected people in the compound where I live. Since I had some food, I always gave them part of what I had. One cup of rice here, two cups of beans there. Everyone had to come together to help one another. 

That’s sweet. Did your business take a hit?

People still needed kerosene, so I was still selling. But my profit dropped to ₦2k – ₦4k every month. I was lucky if I made ₦5k. Thankfully, things are getting better now. I want to start selling engine oil now because they sell very fast. But I’d need about ₦100k for that. 

How do you plan on raising the capital?

I don’t know yet. But I don’t want to take another loan. With loans, you have to buckle up so you can sell your market and return the money you owe. I’ll just manage what I have until I find the money. 

A lot of people would say that 2021 is looking better than 2020; how do you think the rest of the year will look like?

If God keeps us alive, everything will be better. I know the people around me will put a smile on my face. My two sons are my concern right now — I’m hoping the first one will get into a school this year. The second boy is about to write WAEC. When that’s done, I’ll ask him if he wants to go to school or learn a trade. Then I can relax small and concentrate on other things. 

Read this story next:

Coping In A Pandemic: The Widow Struggling To Pay Rent

Toheeb Lanlehin

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

March 27, 2020

For many, the outbreak of the coronavirus has felt like watching the opening of Pandora’s Box in real-time. Relaying their personal unboxing experiences are five Nigerians scattered around the world. We’re starting with Johnny, a Nigerian who lives in the original epicentre of the virus – China. Peter, China. At first, it felt more or […]

March 10, 2020

We spend the bulk of our time at work slaving for the man, therefore, it’s only right that you have office husband. Someone that makes time pass a little bit faster at work. Also, someone, you can confide in and gossip with. Follow this complete guide to get your own office husband today: 1) Get […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

April 12, 2021

You’re having a normal conversation with an anime watcher and they suddenly break into Japanese because they think everyone around them understands. We’ve been there too, so we’ve decided to compile a list of the possible things they’ll say and their meanings. You’re welcome. 1. Nani Nani simply means “What”, but the way anime characters […]

April 12, 2021

As Told To Itohan For a while now, I had been asking people what the most interesting parts about their love life. So, when someone reached out to me and said she fell in love with her Uncle, I wondered if I was reading right. The person in today’s As Told To is *Anna, a […]

April 12, 2021

You probably think you transform to Beyoncé or Celine Dion when those earphones come in and you start singing those lyrics out from your heart, but we are sorry to break it to you that you mostly sound like a squeaking rat. Here is a list of songs you should not sing along to with […]

April 12, 2021

I am genuinely fascinated by relationship dynamics between Nigerians especially when it comes to giving gifts to their partners. So I set out to speak to as many Nigerian men who were willing to speak to me and asked them who the most generous partner they’ve ever had is. And the answers amazed me. Here […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

More from Money

April 6, 2021

Do you have someone owing you money and they have refused to pay? They may also be dodging your calls and flexing on social media? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures so follow this guide to collect your money from all the onigbeses in your life. 1) Take their matter to the mountain Have […]

March 26, 2021

One recurring question everyone considering having kids asks is: how much does it really cost to have a baby. There are tons of hospital visits, tests and procedures. All of these things cost money and for the most part, a lot of Nigerians don’t have insurance.  For this aritcle, I spoke to six Nigerian parents […]

March 24, 2021

As told to Toheeb I’ve been thinking about talking to a gambling addict for Naira Life for some time now, but I haven’t found someone who’s willing to share their story yet. Two weeks ago, while looking for people to interview for this article, a lady reached out to me. She wanted to tell me […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X