The First Time I Borrowed Money as an Adult — 5 Nigerians Share Their Stories

January 18, 2022

Do you remember the first time you had to borrow money? We’re not talking about urgent ₦2k o. Adulthood has a way of putting you in those tight corners that require hundreds of thousands. Borrowing money is the ghetto, and these 5 millennials share the first time adulthood had them on the streets asking for help.

1. Chike, 25

A tanked business

I was 21 when a friend and I started a business for people to invest in buying plots of farmlands in Ogun state for an interest rate at the end of the year. Six months in and I had people bringing in millions of  naira to buy into the plan. It was a pretty sweet deal back in 2017. My clients cashed out on all their investments, so 2018 was even bigger for us. I even had aunties and uncles putting in money for me to grow the business.  I had about  ₦15 million in capital by the second quarter and I was sure I’d be making nothing less than ₦2 million by the end of the year as profit. That ₦2 million became a dream when my partner made a horrible decision that made us lose all the money. That’s how I found myself in debt for ₦15 million naira at 21. We both had to come up with half of it by December to pay people back and it was the worst experience of my life struggling through it.

2. Stephanie, 28

Hospital Bills

The first time I had to borrow a huge amount of money was in 2018 — I was 25. My parents had travelled to the US for a wedding and decided to stay back and work towards becoming citizens from the backend of things. Since the move wasn’t entirely legal, they couldn’t send money back to us in Nigeria immediately. So I had the responsibility of taking care of myself, my two brothers and my cousin. To survive, I sold everything, from shoes to electronic doors for banks to spaghetti and turkey on Saturdays, but I couldn’t save any of the money I was earning. A year later, my cousin got pregnant and had complications that required surgery.  Everything cost  ₦150k and I couldn’t afford that. The doctors weren’t going to operate until I made a transfer, so I had to borrow the money from Etisalat 9-credit. That was the first time I was really pressed into a corner to borrow money as an adult.

3. Sandra, 29


It was 2020 and Valentine’s day — I didn’t expect the gbas gbos that happened that day. I went to visit my boyfriend and  decided to buy a plate of Abacha from a woman across the street.  The Abacha was so good, I went back for a second plate. I slept off after the second plate and woke up vomiting and stooling until my body was too weak and I passed out. I only remember waking up two days later with a bill of ₦400k for just treating food poisoning. I don’t know who sent my boyfriend to take me to a private hospital. We didn’t even have up to  ₦20k to cover the bill, so I had to call some of my friends to help me. People sent me as little as they could afford at the time to meet up so I was able to sort it out. I believe that Abacha woman was a witch sha. 

4. Sere, 26

Knacks and Love

I was 20, and the first time I had to borrow money was for knacks. My boyfriend asked me to take out ₦30k from a loan app to get a hotel room for us. He promised to pay back, so I didn’t mind — the knacks were too good to be bothered at the time. The next time, he asked me to lend him ₦300k to start a business while we were still in school. I loved him, so I didn’t really overthink helping him by asking around for the money. Three months later, there was no business in sight and people were on my neck to pay back. I had to beg for help to pay people back. It was so embarrassing to go through that. Never again.

5. Timmy, 31

My first apartment that never happened

I was 29 and tired of living with my friend, so I saved up ₦450k to move out after the pandemic. When I hit the streets to search for a house, the fees for agency and agreement wanted to kill me. I had to beg a friend to loan me ₦300k to cover the rest of the bill. I finally found a place, but before I paid, my friend invited me for a wedding in the US and advised me to use it as a japa plan. That’s how I used the ₦750k to get a travel agent and process my visa — everything was about ₦500k. Then I used the remaining ₦250k to buy my ticket in faith. Last last, nothing worked for me and I was denied the visa. I spent the rest of the year trying to re-sell the ticket so I could pay my guy back, but nobody was willing to buy. I ended up getting so broke, I had to move back in with my friend. 

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