My Business Story

I Built My Multi-Million Business From My First Profit Of N2,000 - Entrepreneur

This week, we bring you the inspiring story of an entrepreneur who set his eyes on lofty dreams; he started by humbling himself as an apprentice to a friend who didn’t even have shop at the beginning

As a Banking and Finance graduate from the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, Kabir Giwa had lofty dreams for the future. Given his academic background, he fancied a white-collar job at a reputable financial institution.
After graduation in 2000 he returned to Lagos, the country’s business and financial capital and home to the headquarters of the big banks. His search for a job in a bank was long, harrowing and fruitless.
Kabir recalled an encounter with one of his friends during one of his job-hunting days: “I went to Ikeja to window shop.  In fact, I had N20,000 in my bank account but to get a GSM phone at that time, one needed around N40,000 to N45,000. As I was going round, I ran into an old schoolmate, Afolabi, we both graduated from the Polytechnic at the same time. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was still in search of a job. He then asked me if I could join him at the GSM Village (in the Computer Village Ikeja, Lagos) where he was selling in phones on the street. I didn’t initially like the idea of working in that very chaotic environment. But Afolabi told me that there were graduates working there too.”
Kabir didn’t give his friend’s offer much thought, especially because his friend didn’t have a shop in the market.

Business brief:
Started 2000

If he joined him, he asked himself, in what capacity would he function?
Two weeks after their first meeting, Kabir went back to the Computer Village, just to catch up with his friend.  The Iwo, Osun State-born entrepreneur narrated how that second meeting changed his life forever: “Afolabi asked why I had not come to join him and I told him I hadn’t made up my mind yet. Then he said the reason I hadn’t made up my mind was because I was a lazy man. I told him that I wasn’t a lazy person but I didn’t want to do it because it wasn’t my dream. That he called me lazy challenged me.  I needed to prove to him that I am not a lazy person. 

I decided that I needed money to start selling phones by myself. I discussed it with my younger brother who said somebody kept some money with him and wasn’t ready to use the money immediately. My brother suggested that I sound out the owner of the money

Therefore, I started work that same day, at the close of work, he gave me transport fare.  When I got home, I thought over what had happened again and decided to resume fully with him the next day.”
For several weeks, Kabir ran did whatever needed to be done including running errands for his friend. He wanted to quit but with his transport fare and a meal a day guaranteed, that little comfort was better than doing nothing. Most importantly, he was fast building his trading and marketing skills and expanding his network.  
He recalled: “I decided that I needed money to start selling phones by myself. I discussed it with my younger brother who said somebody kept some money with him and wasn’t ready to use the money immediately. My brother suggested that I sound out the owner of the money. I spoke with the person and he agreed to borrow me the money. It was either N25,000 or N30,000 – I can’t remember exactly.”
Supplemented with his life savings of N20,000 Kabir  bought and sold his first merchandise, a Samsung R220. The glow on his face as he narrated his story revealed how much it meant to him to have made N2,000 profit from that sale. He became encouraged to increase his daily profit by putting back all the profits he made back into the phone business. This paid off as his finances began to grow gradually. In 2006, six years after his first sale, he secured his own shop in the market.
However, his breakthrough came three years after, in 2009.  He explained: “In 2009, I registered my company as Kaybec Technology Limited, that same year, I secured a UK visa to meet with my suppliers in England. We were able to form a partnership and they agreed to supply me goods on credit. That was how we grew from one small shop to acquiring another bigger space where we diversified and began to sell laptops. Interestingly, although I started with phones, people rarely know me for phones now. I’m better known for being one of the largest computer sales outlets in the computer Village, Ikeja.”
Kabir sold his car to stock up his shop with his new products, but that transition from phone sales to computers didn’t come easily. There were months when he made very little sales and yet he had a staff to pay.
Exchange rate fluctuation has also proved to be a major headache for him: “My business was and is still affected by the exchange rate. We are still battling price fluctuations because I have goods bought at the old high exchange rates yet I have to sell them at current lower rates. Price fluctuation is one of the main challenges in importation business.”
He is, however, confident that the day would come when he would become one of the largest computer suppliers on the continent. That dream, he said, would be easier to achieve if the government created a more stable exchange rate environment in the country.