In our country today, it is not uncommon to hear about the universities churning out more and more graduates annually, yet lack the basic amenities to keep young graduates busy.
Many individuals resort to leaving the county to find a better life abroad, others get frustrated and practice and turn to the life of crime just to make ends meet. If you don’t have a rich uncle or family or know someone that has authority, you are basically on your own.
Poverty and unemployment have eaten deep into our system.
But in all of these, we still have people trying to survive, starting up businesses that sometimes bloom into a successful franchise and we have those that make just enough to survive each day. This is the case of Mrs. Tochi, who sells roasted corn by the roadside.
Beaming with smiles, Mrs Tochi, an Igbo woman gives us a breakdown of herself and how she started the business. She said that she grew up in Abuja and is currently married with two children (Obinna 9 and Sunny 10).
On how she started the business, she said, “This is not what I wanted to do, but for me to walk around in the streets, I just decided to put myself into this business so as to receive small change”.
Mrs Tochi wakes up every morning as early as 6am and heads to her farm to pluck corns for sale, or to the market to buy if she does not have enough in her farm. She brings them back to her shed and begins the process of roasting them. She sells on average 15-20 roasted corns a day. In addition to roasted corns, she also sells coconuts. She stays in her makeshift shed roasting and selling corns for as long as there are customers. Sometimes she stays at the business up to 8pm.
A roasted corn costs between N50 and N70, depending on its size. The pieces of coconuts sell from N20 per piece. On a good day, she can make N3,000 to N5000 after expenses. Given the number of hours she spends on the business a day, (sometimes up to 12 hours a day), and the relatively miserly return, Mrs Tochi feels she has no option. She said:
“What I make here is not enough for my family but we are managing it like that, but my advice to people out there is, instead of roaming round the streets and begging, this is the season of corn, groundnut, oranges, etc. You can utilize this opportunity, you don’t need a big startup, from something small, you can make it big.”
Even with a lot of people in the same trade as her on the street, this doesn’t discourage her. Her smile and charming personality is what she uses to capture the hearts of customers.