Farmer, Trader, Biochemist, Moni Merchant & Woman!
If you’ve ever heard the Moni Story, you would have heard about Shapati — the community it all started with. The community has grown in the number of agents and the amount of float they access each week since their first loan and their Clusterhead is a woman; Eunice.
This is a story of how Eunice has always been a dreamer and a go-getter. In this interview, she talked about how she wears different hats at all times, how far she has come in agency banking, and how she isn’t going to stop until she has the life she has always dreamed of.
Adébólá Williams sat with Eunice to get a glimpse into her life as a Moni Woman.
Adébólá: What was growing up like for you?
Eunice: My childhood wasn’t rosy because I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I knew hardship as a child because I had to work with my parents who were farmers. My parents would plant vegetables like ugwu and food like cassava while the children would hawk them to sell. Usually, it’s the money from a day’s sale that we use to take care of ourselves. My parents were very hardworking and they instilled that quality in me. My dad is a retired banker and my mom did all sorts of petty trading. They had six children, so they did all they could to take care of us.
One lesson I learned from my childhood is that to have money, you need to know how to make it. As I grew, I had a strong passion to be a nurse but JAMB jammed me a few times. I did pedigree so many times but couldn’t meet the cutoff mark for Nursing. I finally got into the University of PortHarcourt for Biochemistry.
Adébólá: How was life at the university?
Eunice: I usually studied with Medicine students; stayed in their hostels and read as they did. I would read day and night because I love doing well at everything I do. I finished the course with 2:1; was among the 9 people in the department with Second Class Upper.
Adébólá: How about life after school?
Eunice: At this point, I was clueless about how life works. I saw myself as a career lady. I knew I wasn’t going to be a housewife. I remember telling my husband this when we were dating. I had to be involved and lead. I was involved in school leadership and NYSC politics. I got a job in the health sector and left when it didn’t fulfill me. I started another job in a production company (Moflix Diaper) as a Quality Control Specialist and I loved my job. I would be there out of my work schedule and going the extra mile made me quite popular in the company. I was nominated for so many training and benefits until I left. I felt like I was going to have my own establishment but I didn’t know what exactly that looked like.
Adébólá: Wow! How did all these lead you to Agency Banking?
Eunice: This story is somehow sef. I relocated after I left the factory I worked at. I felt like I needed a fresh start. The first kind of work I got introduced to after this move was agency banking. There were two reasons I got into agency banking. The first is that I love to always have money at hand. I feared being without money (this is a fear from childhood). I was well-paid at Moflix and I just feared that I wasn’t going to get anything as good when I left. So, agency banking was the closest thing to touching money regularly. Secondly, I felt financially in charge to some extent. It’s been 5 years now of being a mobile money agent and growth.
Adébólá: What is your day-to-day like as a mobile money agent?
Eunice: I am not a morning person. I usually start my day late and do some home stuff before I even think of work. The early hours of my morning are for me, myself, and my family. I take care of my kids, get them ready for school at a very normal pace. I can afford to do these because I have a few members of staff working for me. I get to my shops at 10a.m to check on how they are doing. I trained them properly before hiring them so they can do the work without me being there. My shops open every day of the week, including Sundays. I particularly love Sunday mornings because there’s no competition that early and I rotate 2 of my employees for Sundays.
Adébólá: Apart from Agency Banking; have you tried some other types of businesses?
Eunice: The mobile money market is very competitive. In Shapati here, I was the only mobile money agent in my immediate neighborhood for about a year. As I grew and people saw that there was profit in agency banking, other people became mobile money agents as well. When I realized that this competition wasn’t going to stop, I had to add extra things to it. So I started thinking of how to solve a problem in my area. I knew there was a need for stationery and books because we have many schools in my area. So I diverted my personal funds into setting up a bookshop. Moni was funding my POS capital while I used my own money to fund my bookshop. After a while, I added photocopy business and homewares. I diversified into the things I knew people in the area liked. So, when they come to my shop; they get money and they buy the things their children need or their home needs.
Adébólá: What were the major challenges you faced when you started agency banking?
Eunice: Money! I lacked funds seriously. I started my POS business with N20,000 that year and I had no staff. By the time four transactions are done, the money is gone, customers are disappointed and you are cranky. The bank was so far away and the little profit off that N20,000 was what I spent on commuting between my house and the bank. At this time, my husband was working in another city and he would usually send me N20,000 monthly for food. I didn’t use it for food. I added it to my working capital. My capital increased to N40,000. Some customers took advantage of my naivety; would have me re-do a failed transaction only to not come back to say they got credited twice.
Adébólá: That must have been pretty difficult. Did you try to get more money elsewhere when you were trying to increase your working capital?
Eunice: I was always afraid of bank loans and besides, not many banks were ready to sponsor mobile money agents. I managed the N40,000 and the money I got from my parents for a while until 2 years ago. I got loans from my friend and she was the one who introduced me to Moni.
Adébólá: Why did you choose Moni?
Eunice: One thing is to collect a loan and another thing is to collect a loan with minimal interest so you can have an actual profit. I like gaining more. Moni’s interest was the first selling point to me. There’s money in agency banking and Moni started helping me to access that money. I tried another association here that gave loans. But the interest was so high that I struggled to just pay back at once and not go back there. But Moni, the interest is low and you pay weekly. The second thing is that Moni has the interest of the agents at heart. They listen to us — which bank will listen to our struggles? So I just stayed because I am very happy here.
Adébólá: Can you share how the Moni Community has been helpful in ensuring your business is growing?
Eunice: I always have cash. Then my customers know that they’ll always get their transactions done whenever they come to me. Without Moni, I wouldn’t have been able to diversify. One of the things I have been able to achieve as a businesswoman is profit and it is because Moni supplies the float I use for my business, I use my profit to set up my life and other ventures and I also enjoy Clusterhead benefits. I bring other agents I know and that I trust into the community so they can also grow their business.
Adébólá: Can you paint a picture of what you envision your business to look like in the nearest future?
Eunice: It’s a big life. I imagine myself living large — when I sleep, money will be coming in and my account will be breathing. I want to have people who share my passion to work for me. I don’t want people who just want to collect salary around me. My dream is that all my cluster members expand their businesses. I want my shop to be the dream shop in Lagos. I want to be the place people want to come in because they like the services. I want to also have a branded vehicle that I can drive around. A car that advertises my business as I go about my business. I also want to do international transactions. I want to expand my business into different countries and currencies and I see Moni helping me achieve all these.
All I know is that Moni wants you to grow. I have grown with the help of Moni. I have also hacked the only thing Moni needs from agents — honesty. Once Moni can trust you, you’ll grow oh! Your business will do well. Personally, I believe that honesty is a virtue. My native name is Eziaha which means a good name and I love to keep that good name.