While some residents of Isi-oye, Umunya, a community in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State are lamenting over the near absence of power in the area, others are taking advantage of the situation to make brisk business. One of them, Chukwuebuka Christian Agutaonu, a 28-year-old man, said he smiles home daily with a minimum of N4,000, despite challenges in the business.
When did you start this business and what informed the choice?
I started exactly a year ago with about N150,000 which I was able to save from my former business. When I came to this community which incidentally is my village, I first did a market survey on what kind of business can be generating money no matter how small.
What came to my mind first was opening a viewing centre. But when I considered the epileptic nature of electricity in the area, and the untold hardship people were subjected to as they trekked to distant places to charge their phones, I decided to go into, at least to bring the service closer to them.
The expansion to the viewing centre came later.
What did it take to set up the business?
I bought chargers, sockets and a generating set. I also bought a TV set, PS 2 and other computer games which I used to set up a video game centre when the business started expanding.
How many charging points did you start with and how many phones do you charge at the same time?
I started with about 50 points before it grew to about 150 which is the total number I have currently. I can charge as many as 80 phones at the same time.
How much do you realise in a day?
Each charging cost N50. I make N3,500 to N4,000 a day. The figure can increase to N6, 000 to N7, 000 during festive periods.
Can you share with us some of the challenges you face in this business?
One major challenge we face in this business is the periodic break down of our generator sets. During the period of repair, one would not be doing anything. All customers then are lost. Besides, you have to raise money from the proceeds of the business to fix it. One of my generating sets is spoilt beyond repair.
Again, chargers and desktop charger do get burnt sometimes. You can see some of them outside. So you keep replacing them to make sure the business is not interrupted.
Another problem we encounter is the inability of customers to pay after service is rendered to them. Though one cannot run any business without debts, but it can really constitute a major problem in the progress to the business.
Some of them would come, play games and charge their phones and at the end, simply tell you, “I don’t have money today. I will pay tomorrow.” You will be surprised you may not see them for some time. They would keep on postponing the payment that you would have no option than to forget about it.
Though the money may be small, but the impact on the business would be felt on the long run.
People like you would not pray for steady power in this community?
(Laughs) You may not be correct. Yes, the epileptic power is a plus to the business, but we still need light for other things. I still believe that we would still have patronage especially in our viewing centre section.
We appeal to the government to improve power supply at least to two or three times a week. At least, that will help in reducing the stress on the generator.
What are your plans in the next couple of years?
I want to establish the business fully and also open another business related to fashion which I was into before. I am one person that detests laziness and idleness. My dream is to become great in life. All it takes is determination and commitment.
Any advice for fellow youths who fold hands waiting for white collar jobs?
Time waits for no one. When I started this business, it was like a child’s play. It really dawned on me that the popular saying that no good thing comes easy was true after all. It was really challenging but I kept on persisting hoping that tomorrow would be better.
The youths should believe in themselves and with perseverance and hard-work, the sky would only be their starting point.
Source: Daily Trust By Emma Elekwa, Awka