Life as a student in the university can really be very frustrating if you are not financially buoyant to take care of your bills. There is a common saying that all fingers are not equal hence, some students can ‘stresslessly’ get as much money as they need from their parents/sponsors while others who are not born with a silver spoon are forced to become student entrepreneurs on campus to survive
Considering the current economic situation in the country, many families who before now were managing to keep their wards in school, have been forced to withdraw them because they can no longer cope with the financial responsibilities involved.
However, some students who have made up their minds to acquire education against all odds have chosen to engage in businesses which other students consider weird, in order to pay their way through school.
Below are the stories of some of these youths who I would describe as ‘Nigeria’s super student entrepreneurs’.
1.Queen Edet, the Crayfish Seller
Have you as a student, ever thought of selling crayfish in order to make money? I’m sure you’ve not considering the smell that goes with it and the shame of being referred to as ‘that crayfish boy or girl’.
However, our number one lady on the list of Nigeria’s student entrepreneurs, Queen Sunny Edet, a young, hardworking computer engineering student of Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, has proven that she knows what she wants out of life and will go to any length to achieve it even if it meant selling crayfish to sponsor her education.
The 23-year-old indigene of Okobo Local Council Area of Akwa Ibom State, became a celebrity in her own rights after her friend/course mate simply identified as Uche, posted a picture of her packing crayfish and pleaded with people to patronise her as she sold crayfish to support herself in school.
Queen’s story spread like wildfire and it didn’t take long before powerful Nigerian women like Oby Ezekwesili and the publisher of Genevieve Magazine, Betty Irabor, in addition to many other well-meaning Nigerians, showed interest in the beautiful crayfish seller.
Her small business which previously suffered poor patronage picked up and now, her major challenge is how to meet up with demands.
2. Mr. Mfon, the Doughnut Man
One is never too old to learn they say. On the seond spot of student entrepreneurs in Nigeria is a man who people would ordinarily believe has no business with school because of his age (early forties) and family responsibilities. But Mr. Mfon, a 2nd-year student of Political Science Education of the University of Uyo as at December 2016, is not one to be easily deterred by financial limitations.
Mfon’s story went global after he caught the attention of a Legal Practitioner and Human Rights Activist, Inibehe Eong, shared his pictures on Facebook having spotted him somewhere in Akwa Ibom, well-dressed and hawking doughnuts.
The lawyer who never knew Mfon from anywhere could not help celebrating his admirable sense of cleanliness and devotion to his trade. He wrote:
“At a time that many Nigerians are seeking white collar jobs, the entrepreneurial spirit of this man deserves commendation. He has by his action given credence to the aphorism that there is dignity in labour. Instead of resorting to crime, he has proudly engaged in this business to cater for himself and his family.”
It was eventually discovered that Annie Idibia, wife of Nigerian singer, Tuface Idibia, through her foundation, was the one who taught him how to bake! As expected, the social media exposure was all took for Mfon’s business to move to the next level as many people were falling over each other just to give him some funds!
3. Abel Edna, the Cook
It is always very erroneous to judge an entire group of people from a particular region based on the actions of one or two individuals from among them. During my service year in one of the south-south states of Nigeria, I had the opportunity of working in a hotel and I took particular note of the huge number of young girls, including those of secondary school age, that usually trooped into the hotel to meet with men.
As a result of the loose lifestyle I noticed was common among the female folks in that environment, I rashly concluded that all girls from that region were loose.
However, coming across the story of Abel Edna made me call myself to order and reconsider my judgement. I had before now held the belief that all south-south girls would rather spreads their legs for men in exchange for money than work hard, but Edna’s inspiring story has proved me completely wrong.
Edna, a 22-year-old student of Niger Delta University, made her way to the media not for committing any form of vice but for cooking and selling food to her fellow students to support herself.
Speaking to Rhythm 94.7 Yenagoa, on the 13 day of January 2016, the young woman who stands out among other student entrepreneurs in her school, said she decided to be financially independent when one of her Uncles who she met for assistance made sexual advancements towards her.
A Facebook user, Michael Tarerefa who first shared Edna’s story in a bid to celebrate her wrote:
“Edna is an undergraduate student at Niger Delta University. Today is not her birthday but I want to celebrate a true champion, one worthy of emulation. Watch out for this young entrepreneur in the nearest future, while her mates are slaying, queening and baeing on social media, she is grinding her ass preparing for the future.
“She is from a polygamous home but she knows where she is coming from and where she wants to be in the future. This young lady combines her studies with entrepreneurship. She cooks and sells to fellow students so as to be financially free. Yeah, I know that it is not an easy thing to do but more impressive is that her grades are on the up since she took up the challenge to be financially free. Her CGPA rose from 1.92 to 3.77 since she started business.
“It takes self-discipline and sacrifices to do this. Guess what, she never went to culinary school. Her kitchen skills are all self-taught. You just cannot overlook her dexterity in a time where it is easy for her to follow a sugar daddy. This ebony beauty is winning both academically and financially with her moral integrity intact.”
It is always very refreshing to see young girls who work hard to make their own money considering the fact that it has become common for young girls to ‘use what they have to get what they want’ no matter who gets hurt.
4. Anastasia Uzodimma, the Cobler
Do you believe that what a man can do, a woman can do even better? In case you don’t, just read on because this young lady will definitely convince you.Shoe making industry in Nigeria had been a male-dominated zone for many years until recently when women picked interest in the job and have currently become a strong competition against their male counterparts.
Shoe making industry in Nigeria had been a male-dominated zone for many years until recently when women picked interest in the job and have currently become a strong competition against their male counterparts.
Before now, as soon as one makes mention of a ‘shoemaker’, the picture of a man comes to mind but that has changed as business-minded women like Anastasia Uzodimma are all out exploring every possible legal venture that can generate income.
Miss Anastasia Uzodimma, is an indigene of Imo state and a student of the Imo State University, Owerri, who makes both men’s and women’s shoes, to make ends meet. For this young woman, shoemaking is not just about making money to pay her fees, but also about doing something she enjoys while at the same time securing her future after school.
5. Rita Iortyom, the Female Men’s Barber
It’s always amazing how life’s twists and turns, though unpleasant, eventually brings us to where we should be. Rita Iortyom is a 300 level student of the Benue State University (BSU) in Makurdi who never planned to become a barber but has ended up in the business by fate’s design.
While still in secondary school, she left her parents home in the village to live with her uncle who owns a barbing salon due to the inability of her relatives to meet her financial needs.
Being a young girl who needed money to foot her basic bills, Rita was motivated to go beyond just being a cashier at her uncle’s salon to “learn how to cut hair instead of staying at the cashier’s desk.
At first, the male barbers taught me for the fun of it; sometimes they even refused to teach me as they felt I would not utilise the training. They did not know I was serious until I practiced my skills on one of them”, she said.
Having been in the industry for about six years, the 24-year-old is now an expert in the business which many people regard as the preserve of the male folk.
At Destiny Barbers in Makurdi, where she currently works, Iortyom, who is studying Library and Information Science, talks about her experience, insisting that “what a man can do, a woman can do better.”
According to Rita, the business is more profitable than a white collar job considering the fact that she still has up to N150,000 to N200,000 at the end of the month after extracting her expenses as a result of that, she has fallen in love with her job and will not abandon it even if she gets a good paying job after graduation. “I plan to open my own barbing outfit before I graduate from the university. But that can only happen if I am able to save enough money”.
Speaking of how she juggles between work and school Rita said “Whenever school is in session, I pay attention to my studies and only return to work after classes. I don’t allow any of them to suffer; I have learned to balance both of them”.