Naija Hustle

Exclusive interview: The story of Simbi, a true naija hustler, who started his struggles in life at 14

Simeon Joseph

On this week’s edition of Naija Hustle, we interviewed Mr. Simeon Joseph from Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State.

He let us into his personal struggles in life from the age of 14.

  • How he made his first money in 2001.
  • How he started his first poultry business at 14.
  • How he traveled on the top of a train from Illorin to Kaduna State.
  • How he had to load building blocks in Abuja for N5 per block just to survive, and many more.

Simeon is a born naija hustler, his story will inspire and encourage you to believe in yourself.

Read his story and get inspired today.

Tell me about yourself?

My name is Simeon Joseph (aka Simbi).

Simbi was a nickname given to me by one of my cousins when I was little.

I was born and brought up in Kaduna, but I am actually from Kogi State, North Central Nigeria.

So Simbi how did you make your first money?

Well, that should be in 2001. I was 14 years old then. I was actually in my Junior Secondary School class 1.

I was at the time living with my aunty in Idah, Kogi State.

I remember we used to play a game with cashew nuts and whoever wins get to collect all the cashew nuts from the other players.

I remember I was able to gather a substantial amount of cashew nuts from the game which I eventually sold for N80.

N80 in 2001 for a small boy in JSS 1 was big enough for me.

I also gathered cashew nuts from cashew trees which I sell at the market too.

So from your story so far, it appears you are a born naija hustler. But what did you do with the money you earned at that time?

I used a small part of the money to buy things I needed for myself.

But I however used big part of the money to start a small poultry.

I had 5 chickens in my first poultry.

I sold some and we ate some at home. I remember I sold one for N600 at that time.

I used the money I made to buy even more fouls and reared.

From my earnings, I bought books and other things I needed in school.

Wow! You had your own poultry business at 14. So what happened? What happened to the poultry?

In 2003 I left Kogi State and returned back to Kaduna, North-West Nigeria.

I sold all my chickens when I left Kogi.

What did you do with the money?

I bought cloths and other things I needed. I never had it in mind to use the money I made for a new poultry in Kaduna. So in all honesty, I squandered the money.

You returned to Kaduna in 2003, which means you were still in secondary school; right?

Yes, I was.

When I got to Kaduna, I started my Senior Secondary School class. But I did not engage in any other business activities throughout.

I only go to school and then help my mother at her shop.

Well then after your secondary education, what hustle did you engage in?

After secondary school in 2006, I borrowed N10,000 to start up a phone booth business.

I remember I returned the N10k Four months later.

Business was good then I must confess.

It was profitable for me, I even bought small shares in Afri Bank at that time with part of my money.

Ok, so what happened to the phone booth business?

I got admission to run a diploma programme at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 2007.

So I left my business in my brothers’ care. But by the time I got back from school after my first 3 months, I noticed my business was collapsing.

I tried my best to revive it and put it back on track whenever I was around on vacations. But my brothers only did more damages to the business which eventually led to its final death.

They practically wasted all my efforts and returned me to level zero after my diploma course. I had nothing to fall back to when I returned home in September 2009.

What did you do to earn money after the collapse of your phone booth business?

I started working in a construction company in Kaduna in 2010. I earned around N23,000 monthly. Sometimes if I work overtime I even earn more.

I was like a general helper in the company. I had no expertise, so I just helped my oga them.

They could assign me to an oga who does electrical work today and the next day I’m with another oga who does mechanical work.

I worked at the construction firm for over a year.

Most of the money I earned was used in paying bills. I however tried to save some which I used in supporting myself when I got admission for my National Diploma programme in 2012.

But before school, in 2011 I worked in another construction company (C & C Construction) where I served as a casual labourer.

It was December 2011 and I thought I should make some money for Christmas.

When I got to the construction company at first, I was given a job to dig a 500 x 500 6ft suck-away for N10,000. I and my colleague finished the job in 4 days.

After the digging job in 2011, in January 2012 we did everything available from mixing cement and concrete to constructing slabs, to digging drainages and just about everything a construction firm does.

Averagely I earned around N18,000 monthly. But you don’t get paid any day you miss work sha.

I worked at C & C for 11 months. I left after I got admission for my National Diploma at The Federal Polytechnic Idah in November 2012.

Did you do any hustle that earned you money while in school?

Before nko! Hunger for kill me na (I had to, otherwise I would have died of hunger).

At that time I already had knowledge in electrical works. So I fixed electrical problems for students and get paid for my services.

I also learnt hair dressing. I worked at Sadiya’s hair dressing shop in school.

Sadiya who is popularly known as “peleke” actually thought me how to make hair.

I used the money I earned in school to support myself. Assignments, handouts, books, feeding, etc.

I finished my ND programme in February 2015 and returned back to Kaduna.

What did you do after returning home from school?

I engaged myself in an electrical shop around my house where I learnt more things in electrical work. I learnt how to fix standing fans, how to recoil wire, how to fix stabilizer and many more things.

Few weeks after, I got a job at a bread bakery where I earned N6,500 monthly.

I go to work around 7am and close around 8pm at night.

The major problem was that you don’t even rest. I worked like a robot from morning till night at the bakery.

Very frustrating job for just N6,500.

I quitted after 2 weeks.

What did you do after quitting?

After quitting the bakery job, I travelled to Abuja in search for how to survive.

I got a job in Abuja where I was loading and offloading blocks and centre barrier for road construction.

I was paid N5 per block.

I left Abuja in December 2015.

So what next did you do after leaving Abuja?

In 2016, a friend introduced me to a merchandizing business. We sold healthcare products.

We take the products to different states to sell. It is only when we sell that we get paid.

The job made me travel a lot. I visited all the states in the country apart from Borno, Benue and Adamawa States.

I visited many offices and businesses in different states while marketing and selling the healthcare product.

I recall an experience where I had to return back to Kaduna from Illorin, the capital of Kwara State, where I had gone to market the products.

It went unsuccessful and I wasn’t able to sell any product in Illorin, so I had no money to return home. I travelled all the way from Illorin to Kaduna on the top of a train.

I was short of cash but i had to come back home anyway.

I had to stop the work when I got admission for my Higher National Diploma programme at the Kaduna Polytechnic Kaduna in November 2017.

Did you engage in any hustle while running your HND?

Sure!

Every day after school I go to the electrical repair shop where I work.

I make little money that I use to transport myself to school daily.

Your struggle in life is really interesting. What advice do you have for your fellow Nigerian youths?

My advice to naija youth on the street right now is “never look down on yourselves or anybody”.

Life is all about flaws, ups and downs. You must make mistakes, there are inevitable, but make sure you learn as you go.

Don’t wait for anyone to help you, help yourself. Don’t wait for your father or your mother or one uncle somewhere to help you. Just help yourself.

Finally, make sure you keep learning, you need knowledge to survive.

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