Mrs. Awolowo Nike, 37, was quite cheerful that Monday afternoon, though she had been working for hours under the scorching sun. In fact, as she went about her business, she had a smile for everyone she met, an indication that she has been enjoying every moment of it since she went into the transport business some four months ago.
‘’Ijesha next turn! Ijesha, enter with your change o…’’ she hollered, while steering her fairly used tricycle popularly called Keke Marwa towards this reporter and a male colleague. She kept on smiling even after the invitation to board her vehicle was politely turned down.
Though she is not the only female tricycle operator in Lagos, but Madam Nike’s story will certainly serve as a source of inspiration and motivation to other women, especially for those seeking for means of self-employment at a period of increasing unemployment in the country.
While some women in her position would prefer to stay glued to their television sets watching different types of programmes, this mother of three chose the male-dominated transportation business to assist the husband in putting food on the family’s table.
The native of Osun State told Vanguard Metro she was initially into the frozen food business for six years before she was forced to close shop due to epileptic power supply, coupled with skyrocketing prices of frozen foods.
‘’I was originally into petty business and was relatively doing well in it. Through it I was able to contribute my own quota to the family’s upkeep. My husband was trying his best as the head of the family. To keep the business going I acquired the necessary equipment, including a power generating set. I was able to service my loan through weekly contributions.
“But at a point, the power situation in my area began to worsen so that most of the profit went into providing alternative electricity through the generating set. I could no longer offset various bills though I wanted to manage the situation believing that sooner or later the public power supply would would improve.
“The power problem lingered for a while with the result that food meant for sale kept going bad on a regular basis. As if this was not bad enough, the prices of frozen food soon skyrocketed, thus worsening an already bad situation.
“To arrest the situation, I arranged for storage but this also generated further expenses and I was unable to meet up. At this point, the situation became unbearable and I feared that financial crisis may soon cripple our children’s education.
It was at this point that I took to menial jobs. I did this for some years until I met a good Samaritan who introduced me to transport business. But the initial snag was that I didn’t know how to drive.
“I was not discouraged by the development and when some well wishers noticed my eagerness, they volunteered to teach me how to operate a tricycle and I immediately enrolled for the training which lasted for about four months. I thereafter I bought a fairly-used tricycle at the cost of N300, 000 payable on instamental basis of N10,000 per week. I started by operating the Cele expressway to Ijeshatedo route.
Fairly used tricycle
“To make things easier for myself, I came up with another mode of payment, different from the written one I signed with the owner. Under this new arrangement, I am entitled to be keeping an amount of N1,500 to offset the weekly N10,000 remittance. .
“I start the day’s work as early as 5.30am and close by 11pm. But I rest on Thursdays, while I only operate between 5pm and 8pm on Tuesdays. My younger sister stays with us to look after the children while I am away.
“A major challenge I also faced initially was where to park the tricycle after the day’s business. But this was soon taken care of after I got a private garage where I am charged N100 daily to park and have it looked after.
“Unlike my male counterparts, I face less insult from other road users who usually come to my rescue whenever the occasion arises. However, I wish to quit the business as soon as I raise enough money to venture into a less hectic business.”
Culled from ;Vanguardonline