Every week, Zikoko seeks to understand how people move the Naira in and out of their lives. Some stories will be struggle-ish, others will be bougie. All the time, it’ll be revealing.

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Before we enter 2023, these are 10 #NairaLife stories from this year absolutely everyone should read.

And if you’ve read them before, read them again.

1. #NairaLife: What Happens When You Have to Raise Five Siblings at 20?

At first, this seems like a your regular grass to grace story, but things heat up really quickly. The loss of a mother, the irresponsibility of a father and the potential danger to the lives of his five younger siblings made the then 20-year-old subject on this story take matters into his own hands. Things didn’t go smoothly right from the jump, but life smiled on him one day and he’s not looked back since. You cannot miss this one.

2. The #NairaLife of the 27-Year-Old Driver Trying to Get Into Tech

This Naira Life subject has always been an aspiring tech bro. Even when he was working as an unpaid employee at his mum’s bukka and motel, he managed to go to computer school to learn design and programming — and somehow, fraud.

Now he’s a driver and he’s building apps — one of which he uses to over-charge his customers. His aim in life? To get into tech proper proper. No more fraud.

3. The Regretful #NairaLife of a Nine-Year Career Spent in a Family Business

This is the Naira Life of “had I knowns”. According to the subject, one mistake — not choosing Lagos for NYSC — led to a series of career blunders that put her where she is now. But none of those mistakes is as significant as working for her brother for the past nine years.

Now, after training people who’ve gone on to have impressive careers, she’s stuck. Both financially — she earns ₦60k monthly — and mentally. One thing she knows though, is that she needs to do something different.

4. The #NairaLife of a 32-Year-Old Divorcee With Unpursued Dreams

After seven years, two children and a failed marriage, the 32-year-old subject of this Naira Life returned to her parents’ home with just ₦500 to her name. Things are picking up for her again, but you just get a sense that she didn’t have to go through all this wahala in life. Don’t miss this one.

5. #NairaLife: This 24-Year-Old Makes Millions Playing FIFA

A yoruba adage that speaks to the unending variety of ways people can make money goes, “Ọ̀nà kan ò wọ’jà” (It’s never just one road that leads to the market). For this guy, the thing that makes him millions, fame and takes him to represent Nigeria all around the world is the same thing his parents scolded him for doing too much when he was a kid: playing video games.

6. #NairaLife: This Nurse Is Fighting Sickle Cell and Sapa With Two Jobs

The 26-year-old nurse on this #NairaLife lived in wealth until her dad died mysteriously when she was 12. Things got so bad, she had to retake a semester in school because she was owing ₦1k. Since then, she’s sold sweets, bread, eggs and even written love letters to make money. Now, she works at two different hospitals and is saving to japa.

I asked her: Did all that physical activity affect your health?

And she replied: Very badly. I fell sick a lot, but it was either sickness or be broke and hungry. I didn’t want to go hungry. 

7. The #NairaLife of a Lawyer Aiming for $100K a Year Through Tech

Fun fact: I interviewed the subject and published the story in January 2022. At the time, she earned ₦2m a month. Approximately $41k/year at the time. In April, we spoke again. She’d gotten a new job that surpassed her $100k/year goal.

8. The #NairaLife of the Morally Complicated Guidance Counsellor

The guidance counsellor on this Naira Life might need some counselling. The 25-year-old works as a guidance counsellor at his parents’ school for ₦100k a month. But before that, he did a lot for money, including selling pure water, thrifting clothes and fraud. From the interview, it was clear he had a lot to iron out with his parents. I hope he’s had the chance to.

9. From Nursing to Hairdressing: This 43-Year-Old Mum Is Living in Debt

“Between 1996 and 2014, today’s subject on #NairaLife worked as an auxiliary nurse. Her highest salary in that period was ₦12k. Today, she works as a hairdresser and lives on loans she repays every week.”

Fun fact: In one week, this story got ₦335k in donations from Zikoko’s Naira Life readers to clear her debts and find her feet. As if that wasn’t enough, the subject was placed on a ₦30k monthly stipend from another reader from May to December this year. 

10. The Heartwarming #NairaLife of a 23-Year-Old Breadwinner

A win for me, with this story, is the title. The story is heartwarming. This 23-year-old’s family went from going on trips and sending children to study abroad to owing ₦30k in a Nigerian university. Things got so bad, the subject’s dad attempted suicide. Here’s an excerpt from when things got better:

“Bro, when the first alert entered, it was like ₦1.5m. My entire family looked at the alert; all those little frustrations died. It was like a complete sense of ease just filled the house. I’d never seen such pride on my parents’ faces. As a child, whenever I thought about my first million, I thought I would get it through savings. I’d just exceeded it in a month. At 22. I gave my dad ₦150k, my mum ₦100k, and we bought stuff for the house. That’s just how things have been since then.”

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