By Agnes Aboyi, The Sight News
ABUJA: It was on a Tuesday, April 30, 2019, when our reporter caught up with Mr and Mrs Ugochukwu and Chika Onyemachi, who have been running a small-scale food business in Lugbe, Abuja Municipal Area council for over a decade.
Mr Ugochukwu Onyemachi popularly known as “Papa Africa”, has been running this small-scale restaurant business with his wife and children for the past 18 years—a business they started after searching for a job for several years and had nothing to hold on to.
Mr. Onyemachi who came to the Federal Capital city 18 years ago with his family, with the intention of traveling out of the country but were duped of their money, decided to go into food business, which led them to start their little restaurant called “African Kitchen”.
Speaking with The Sight News reporter in an interview, he disclosed that he loves his business, but noted, that there are several competitors as well as challenges such as— exorbitant shop rent and high cost of food items—which tends to take up the little income they get.
“The business is not bad, it’s just that we have a lot of competition, it was not like this before but in all, I love it and will be retiring very soon”, he said. “Imagine, I and my wife, we pay over N200,000 yearly for rented shop and a times, we don’t make much sales a day while the roadside mama-put that doesn’t pay rent yet makes much out of it”.
Papa Africa, expressed worry that people no longer pay much attention to their environment and hygiene, as some of them prefer to eat ‘over the gutter’ than sit around a descent place, due to their quest for cheap food.Speaking on small-scale business owners depending on the government for assistance, he emphasized that, “The government has nothing to offer to any citizen. There was a time a Microfinance bank came and opened an account for us but we lost N300,000 and we had to start all over.
“My advice for the upcoming business men and women is, if you are starting a business, don’t entertain any Microfinance bank or people who do come and collect money to save for you. Deposit your money in the bank”, he advised.
For her part, Mrs Chika Onyemachi also known as “Mama Africa”, who shared her story with our reporter, said that her children’s condition was a motivating factor to start-up the food business,in order to raise money for their school fees and feeding.
She however stated, that the cooking process is stressful, as she had to wake up early and close late at night and, the whole day is spent in the business, ‘no time to rest and no time for myself’.
When asked if she loves the job, she answered in the affirmative, adding that it is better to be busy than idle.“I can remember 18 years ago, how we started this business with just N1,000 and today our business has grown and we are using it to train our children in school.
“My advice to the youth is for them not to wait on the government for a job all the time, they should make use of their time by learning skills and also setting up small businesses with the little they have”, Mrs Onyemachi remarked.
The couple further advised upcoming youths, businessmen and women to be resourceful, patient, hardworking, focused and passionate about any business they intend to go into, if they must succeed.