From Humble Beginnings to Achieving Success: Ayo’s Inspiring Journey
In today’s #MoneyStory, we delve into the inspiring story of Ayo, a Nigerian man from humble beginnings who, from a young age, has had to fend for himself and his family. Ayo shares his journey growing up in Lagos and how he provided for himself and his family through education and hard work. Through his determination and relentless spirit, Ayo shares how he turned his life around and achieved success while supporting his family.
Hey Ayo, tell me more about yourself and your background growing up.
My name is Ayo; My dad is Yoruba and my mom is Igbo, which is an interesting fact that I am very proud of. I grew up in Lagos, and I’m the first of four kids. I had my primary and secondary education there. My trajectory started to define itself when I entered higher education.
I have a first degree in Microbiology. After higher education, I was privileged to work as a graduate lecturer at Kebbi State. It is common practice in NYSC to send people to PPE based on their grades, and I finished my degree with first-class honours in Microbiology. After completing my NYSC and spending months lecturing Microbiology at the School of Technology, I returned to Lagos and found a teaching job.
Nice. You came from humble beginnings; what led you to live independently and fend for your family in your teens?
This is something that I love to talk about often. My parents are separated and have been since I was 15. Since their separation, I have been responsible for my immediate family, which consists of my mom and siblings. I was 15 years old and in my last days of high school when the split happened, and since then, I have single-handedly taken care of my family and myself.
As an African child with such responsibility, everything about me is self-sponsored. I have always funded my own education, from secondary school to NYSC. I often tell my friends who aren’t from humble beginnings that I don’t know what it means to be told, “send your account number” or “this is your pocket money.”
While I was still working at the firm and doing basic content development, I learned about the Google Tech Scholarship and applied. I was able to secure the scholarship and was one of the top graduates that year. I then used my knowledge to pivot into cloud services such as Azure and AWS, and it was in that apartment I started to get certified and land small contracts. This eventually led me to my first cloud job.
That’s great. How did you further your education and improve careerwise while fending for yourself and your family at that young age?
Education was my biggest escape. If all odds were stacked against me, one thing that I am grateful for is my academic excellence. It was always easy for me to be spotted in class, not because I was a nuisance but because I was academically good.
If 100 of us submitted our work, my work was usually picked out. This was my advantage. Concerning funding my education while taking care of my sibling in my teenage years, I did anything legal and could put food on the table for my family. During this time, I also taught. After teaching from morning to afternoon each day, I still had five home tuition gigs that I took throughout the week and on the weekend. I was always working.
Later on, I realized that I needed to make more money from my various jobs, so I spoke to a friend who told me about commercial motorcycling and the income I could earn from it. I then bought my first motorcycle for about 90,000 Naira and reduced the number of private lessons I took. I would go to school, teach in the morning, then take my bike and start hustling from 4 pm to 11 pm.
I soon realized that I was earning a decent income. On a good day, I could make between 2,000 to 3,000 Naira. When I got home, I would feed my family and save a portion of my earnings. I did this for 4 to 5 years before I stopped, and it helped me support my family during that period.
Besides that, I never attended a private school. I went to a federal school, so I could pay my fees. The entire school would protest whenever there was an increase in school fees because we knew it would be difficult to pay.
I’m curious. Did you ever have a particular experience/opportunity that changed your life?
Yes, there was an instance, but it’s not something to boast about. I am not proud of it because it goes against my investment thesis. I don’t mind sharing it with you, though. To begin with, it was a lucky breakthrough for me and not a smart move as I now know better.
When I started making money, the only way I knew I would make a significant amount was to invest. I took an interest in investment schemes. Remember the job I mentioned earlier? While I was working at that job, my then CEO, Dr. Tude, a great man and the former director of Lagos Business School, told me about a friend of his who was looking for someone good in the sciences to teach his kids Cambridge A-level topics.
I started doing that gig as a side hustle, and I was making about 60% of my monthly salary then from it. I saved this money along with my salary for five months until I stumbled upon MB Forex, an investment scheme in Lekki that promised a 15% ROI. I invested 360,000 Naira and was receiving 54,000 Naira per month.
For the first three months, I received income from my salary, teaching gig, and investment. I was a reasonable spender and was able to save consistently. I increased my investment capital to 720,000 Naira and received 156,000 Naira monthly.
However, after four months, I became skeptical about the Forex trading they claimed to be doing and realized it wasn’t possible to make gains each day. I went to the office, and I told them that I had got admission, so I needed the money to settle my school expenses, and I got all my money back.
Two months later, I heard that the investment scheme had collapsed, and many lost their investments.
When I received my money, I was excited to see a seven-figure balance for the first time. I decided to invest in cryptocurrency and learned more about it.
After these experiences, I learned more about crypto and got involved in airdrops. I was lucky enough to participate in a few airdrops, which was a long game of growing my money sustainably.
The investment with the forex company was pure luck and not hard work. If things had gone differently, I could have lost everything and gone back to square one. I do not encourage these investments as I remember people being hospitalized and even a lady who invested 50 million Naira fainting and dying when she heard about its collapse.
Lucky you! What are two money lessons that your journey has taught you and guide your path now?
First, anything that doesn’t make it into your budget at the beginning of the month shouldn’t get your money. In other words, you need to track a small amount of money to manage a larger amount sustainably.
It’s easier to train yourself to be accountable with your small amounts before a large sum comes in. This way, you will take advantage of the opportunity to manage it effectively. This lesson ties into the idea that great habits compound. If you can’t track expenses that aren’t part of your budget, they’re unimportant.
To tackle “black tax,” I take a similar approach. I receive money requests from family and non-family members, mostly at the beginning of the month. I usually tell them that anything they ask for will be considered next month, as long as I have set my budget. Unless the situation is life-threatening, the request will be considered in the following month.
Another lesson is to avoid lifestyle inflation. When you start earning a bit more money, it’s tempting to upgrade your lifestyle, but that can quickly drain your resources. For example, if you’re considering buying a new car, park the old one in good condition for the next three weeks and take the bus or a “keke” instead. Doing so will remind you to appreciate what you already have.
Those are the things that have helped me to make money and sustain it. It’s more important to learn how to sustain money than to learn how to make money. The first step is to make money, but the focus should be on progression, not exclusion. It’s about longevity, not just a one-time event.
For people with humble beginnings – fending for themselves and taking care of their family and don’t know what the future holds for them. What advice will you give to them?
If you’re from humble beginnings, it’s all about blueprints, just like how architects and artisans do their work. Everything is centered around a blueprint. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what the future holds, one of the easiest ways to proceed is to seek out people who have been in the same situation and successfully navigated it. This makes it easier to replicate their process.
You can find these people in your community or even in books. For a long time, I lived my life based on the lessons of others. I observed people who had similar life situations to mine and achieved great success, which pointed to the possibility that it was possible for me too. The key is to replicate their process.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Most of these shots start with finding a blueprint to follow. Additionally, having a blueprint helps to paint a picture in your mind of what is possible.
People should understand that when you make efforts to build your capacity, they multiply geometrically. At first, it may seem like your efforts aren’t paying off, but all of those small efforts are building capacities to sustain you in the long run.
In summary, if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what the future holds because of your humble beginnings, find a way to keep that vision alive by finding people who have been in a similar situation and replicating their process.
Building a good network is also crucial, as even with accumulated value, opportunities will only come if the right people see it. You need to catch the attention of one person. You need one person to see, sign, or speak for you. You need one person to take the chance on you; that can only happen if you build your capacity and position yourself.