My 6-month journey from jobless to employer

This is a blog post by A. Okoli... A year ago, I was jobless. I lost my wife during childbirth and I was so broke that I left my kids with a family member.

Grass to grace

It is also a story of hope, and how one man who was at his wits end managed to pick himself up and start life all over again. From now on, the protagonist here, @UberLagosDriver, tells his story:

I make my living from a tiny space about 2.5m long and no wider than 1.8 metres. Within this space, up to 20 people each day from all walks of life, sit and chat with me about all subjects under the sun and then pay me an amount between N500 - N10,000 depending on how long we spend together. One of the most popular questions I get is "how did you get into this line of work?”

Fast forward one year, I run my own business and I have found myself creating employment for others.  Most of all, I have my kids back :-) and I'm being sought out by potential customers.

What do I do, and how did I get here? 

Before I delve in, please pardon the limited structure of my story. I am not a professional writer – I write thoughts on my phone in the middle of my working day.

If you have not already guessed, I'm a rideshare driver. That means I'm basically a chaffeur who only drives posh cars and who can exclusively be booked through an app.  My journey (and the second chapter of my life) began less than 6 months ago, December 2015 to be precise. I had lost my wife, better half, and best friend barely a year before and had become a wreck.

I was married to her for eight years and she had been my pillar. Even when I had to leave home for days to put bread on the table, she never gave me any issues. She always believed in me, so you can understand why I cried everyday for 3 months after she died.

She died following a botched caesarian surgery. She had been in labour for hours and after been wheeled into theatre, she came out bleeding uncontrollably. I was told that she had lost a lot of blood. If anything else happened in the operating room, it's between the doctors and God. I needed closure badly but didn't push it further.

Around that period, the economic situation in Nigeria had heated up with politicians playing politics with every aspect of our lives as they sought re-election. There was no money in circulation as no contracts were awarded and salaries were being delayed. Prior to this, I engaged in the supply and sale of automobiles.

So the whole situation was a big strain on my livelihood, especially as health insurance in Nigeria has never been too popular. This meant that I had to pocket the hefty hospital expenses, and so with my wife passing I almost lost interest in life itself but for my little ones she left behind. I must mention here that my little baby survived the ordeal, however, she will never know her mom and will never experience the pleasure of being suckled. She never tasted breast milk but she's growing and doing fine and for that we give glory.

I was idle for over 6 months, and at was a point was surviving from handouts.

On a positive note, I was Internet savvy and had a Blackberry phone which I accessed the Internet with, and follow happenings on Twitter. It was on Twitter I met my benefactor.

Twitter was a good place for me to look for opportunities. I noticed a particular handle was always retweeting job opportunities and giving tips on how to be self reliant. I could see a sound mind behind those tweets and I sent him a DM detailing my story and asking for mentorship.

Enter @Mrpe2.

Mrpepe: I remember being on Twitter one day, specifically out to help/mentor someone when I received the message below.

I had received messages like these in the past, and none was as compelling as this. I could see a man who sounded ready to fight for a future for his children and I was ready to work with him to achieve his goals. A rideshare service I had used another countries was expanding to Nigeria and was looking for new partners. As this guy sounded quite intelligent and ready to learn, I thought he would make a good match, and I proceeded to do some research and share with him my findings on how he could apply as a driver partner on the service.

Back to @UberLagosdriver

With so much  excitement that I was going to get back on my feet employed and independent, I set out to meet up my requirements – which I describe in another post.

Barely 3 months after starting, I was offered the chance to own the car I drove, on a hire purchase basis and I couldn’t describe my joy. Here is a screenshot of when I received the news. 6 months down the line, and I‘ve branched out into fleet management and recently signed my first management contract.

This is purely to encourage those at their wits end, there is always hope. Believe in yourself, and that you can do it with God by your side and be open and willing to learn, and you will come out on top.

Bio: Mr. Pepe is a financial blogger who focuses on showing people how to make, manage and give away money in Nigeria.Website: www.mrpepe.com

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