Somewhere in Nigeria’s commercial nerve, Lagos, 30-year-old Taiwo Abiri, an Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Economics graduate, is living his dream of making money by getting his hands dirty. For years he watched Youtube videos on car repairs and tried his hands a couple of times on things after learning on Youtube. Taiwo’s first engine oil change for a car was done following steps he had learnt on Youtube. The video streaming platform played a critical role in shaping his dream for the future.
Years of watching such videos and reading a lot of books about how automobiles work had piqued his interest in car repairs and he never went for the MBA his parents wanted for him. Last year, he made a revenue of N25 million ($126,000) at his makeshift shop. He moved to a bigger place towards the end of last year and he said he was just getting started. “I haven’t even done up to half of what I have in my business plan,” Taiwo said.
“I wanted to go to a technical school in the U.S. to learn about car repairs but I couldn’t because my parents were not supportive. I did not want to go for my NYSC. The school had already taken me but the money was a lot. I couldn’t pay. They just wanted me to do an MBA. My Dad said being a mechanic was bad of a university graduate,” Taiwo Abiri recounted.
With the much needed parental support not forthcoming, financing was going to be a big challenge. Taiwo knew he had to find a way to fund his way through his automobile repairs training and so he got a job at a real estate firm after the one-year compulsory service to the nation under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). He had just one thing in his mind; work for a year and save enough to learn how to repair cars and start his own car repair business.
Abiri saved as much as he could throughout the year he spent at the real estate firm. He had completed a Project Management Training by the time he got the job as an Assistant Portfolio Manager. He resigned after spending 13 months there and enrolled for apprenticeship at a garage owned by some Lebanese men on the Lekki-Epe axis of Lagos, ensuring that no one at the garage knew he had a degree.
“I wanted them to treat me the way they treated everyone there,” he says, adding that he worked there without being paid for 20 months. While at the Lebanese-owned workshop, Taiwo’s educational background distinguished him, as he understood things before others and was able to use some computerized tools others found hard to use. He started buying tools with his savings and donations from his brother who lives in the United States and now has a stake in Motomi, Taiwo’s auto-repair company.
Although he started his car repair business with friends and families as clients, Taiwo boasts of several corporate clients today. Motomi repairs cars for Century Energy, Four Points By Sheraton, Falcon Gas, AA Rescue, Structon Construction Company, Computer Warehouse Group, among others. He also plans to start Motomi Express 24/7 to ensure clients are served round the clock.
Taiwo hopes he gets investors that will help fund his big plans, one of which includes setting up a model technical school where graduates who would like to toe his path can perfectly fit into.