Editor’s Note: To make money, all you need is sheer determination and focus. Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty or your feet wet. The following interview is proof. Read this, then read all the amazing accounts of our Featured Entrepreneurs here. Whatever you do, prosper!
My name is Julius Friday Joseph. I am a scrap dealer. I am from Kaduna state, in Zango-kataf Local Government area. My father was a military man so due to the nature of his job we virtually lived in almost every part of the country, so I would say I am a fully grounded and blooded Nigerian. I moved down to Lagos fully some years back after a stint abroad.
By scrap dealer, what do you mean?
I buy scrap metals; iron, copper, aluminium, steel and the rest. Mind you, I am not a scavenger; I buy from scavengers. I buy condemned vehicles, machineries, equipment and what have you and then I take them apart and sell them to companies that export metal. We are helping to save the environment because we are advocates and apostles of recycling.
How did you start the business?
I started through apprenticeship before I ventured into my own practice. I was an apprentice for 5 years. During my apprenticeship, I was also making income and saving them for my own business although I still had some money I saved from my sojourn abroad. I didn’t choose this business; it chose me. Before I got into this business, I was in Malaysia before I got deported back to Nigeria. In my frustration, I got into drugs and became a street urchin. I was involved in so many street fights and all the rest. One day I sat down and asked myself questions; “how long will I continue this way?”, “am I getting any younger?” etc. My brother, I siddon talk to myself, tell myself some home truths. After observing some guys who normally picked scraps and took them to a scrap metal site, I walked up to them and they now introduced me to their boss who owns the site and he then introduced me to the business and as they say, the rest is history.
How profitable is the business?
Well, the business has helped me acquire a piece of land here in Lagos and I’ve been here for just a little over five years. People who have spent virtually all their lives here haven’t been able to achieve that. I send money regularly back home to my family. I am paying tuition for my siblings and generally I think life is good (smiles). It is a dirty job and very physically challenging but to be honest with you, it is a lucrative business
What motivates you in this business?
My brother to be honest with you, the money I make motivates me. At least it keeps me away from trouble. I can afford whatever I desire right now.
What about your present challenges?
Initially it was difficult for me identifying the various kinds of metals. We normally have the police coming to harass and extort us for no reason. Also sometimes people worried and brand us as Boko haram just because we are northerners even though we are not even Hausas or Fulanis. Just because they see us dealing in metals they think we are dangerous or pose a threat to the society. We are just harmless fellows making honest living for ourselves.
What character(s) or quality(ies) would you say contributed the most to your success in the business?
Hard work and determination.
What was the perception of people around you when you started?
People saw me as someone who was going mad initially and were asking if I was sure this is what I really wanted to do. But now, most of them are now my apprentices and employees.
Where do you see yourself and business in the next 5 years?
I see myself dealing directly with foreign bodies and processing the molten metal myself which is like the peak in this business.
What advice do you have for young unemployed people in Nigeria?
My brother there are no jobs. Use your hands and create one for yourself. Crime does not pay either because at night you will not be able to sleep deep and rest. Look around you and make yourself useful.