By Ebele ORAKPO
Ms.Â Nwogo EjinduÂ is the managing director ofÂ Complete Home and Office Services Limited (CHOS), a wholly indigenous company with specialty in professional cleaning, maintenance, fumigation, pest control, landscaping and horticultural services.
The outfit which has been in operation for over 27 years now boasts of large clientele both in Nigeria and the US.
Ms. Ejindu,Â who turned her hobby into a money-making career and a firm believer in the saying that â€˜Cleanliness is next to Godlinessâ€™ spoke to Vanguard in Lagos.
Motivation: The Economics graduate from San Diego State University, USA said her romance with cleaning started as a little girl growing up in Lagos.
â€œIÂ love to clean as a child. I remember as a young girl between 12 and 14 years of age, we were living at Vincent Street, Shomolu, and at that time, way back in the 70s, I would put on my boots and clean the gutters and everybody was admiring me; you know, instead of playing with other kids, I would be busy cleaning. At that time, there was nothing like environmental sanitation in Nigeria. I was so happy doing it and of course, I would be the one to clean the whole compound.
Actually, I took after my grandmother who I never met because she died before my mother got married to my father. Iâ€™m the 5th girl but the Ejindus are known to be very clean and tidy people and actually, I would say among the younger generation, I took after my grandmother more than any other person. I just love to clean, itâ€™s a part of me. I derive joy from cleaning,â€ she said.
â€œWhen I got much older,â€ the CHOS boss continued, â€œI said to myself: â€˜Well, I might as well turn this hobby into a career.â€™ As a young lady married and living with my ex-husband, Dr. Benjamin Chukwuma, I would clean the whole apartment and I remember on one occasion when we were moving to a high rise, every younger doctor wanted our apartment and somebody said to them: â€˜I donâ€™t know why everybody wants this apartment. It is the same as the rest of them. The only thing I can tell you is that Mrs. Chukwumaâ€™s apartment is much cleaner than the rest. Clean it and you will discover they are all the same.â€™
From that moment, I just thought to myself that well, if I could be doing my house, I can do other peopleâ€™s houses, hospitals etc. When I got to the US, I decided to start doing some contract jobs – cleaning hospitals like outpatient surgical clinics.
I was doing that with eight employees. I later decided that I can as well come back home where I can help grow the economy by employing our people. When I came back, I started with six people, then I moved to Re-Insurance House and I had 12 employees. From there, I started getting contracts to clean peopleâ€™s houses and smaller companies.
Right now, I have 217 employees with offices in Lagos and Abuja, and of course, I travel to villages in all parts of the country. I just love to clean. If I come to your house and clean it, I make your day. If I come into your office and clean it, I make your day and that makes me really happy. I thank God for giving me the urge to clean,â€ she enthused.
Speaking on where she hopes to see the company in the next 5 – 10 years, Ms. Ejindu said: â€œI have my challenges in terms of people paying for jobs. I have lost a few jobs as a result because when they donâ€™t pay me, I quit,â€ adding however, that â€œat the rate we are going, my next step now is fumigation which Iâ€™m already doing.
I see Complete Home and Office Services Ltd cleaning the states. I see people employed by the Lagos State Government sweeping the highways and to me, it is very risky. So I have already purchased a sweeping van.
The sweeping could be done in the night when traffic is very light. That way, we donâ€™t cause traffic jam during the day when people are going to work. This will eliminate the risks faced by those women sweeping the highways. Every time I pass, I say a prayer for them. Thank God we have been lucky because I have not heard of any of those highway cleaners being knocked down by a vehicle but I still think it is not safe for people to be sweeping while vehicles are moving. What I see in the US are gardeners that clean gardens which are off the roads. It is the trucks that sweep the roads,â€ she stated.
â€œMy intention is to go all the way to the top. I could sweep the streets and fumigate all the gutters. This could prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and malaria which was what I witnessed as a child in the 60s. Every weekend, you see those people fumigating gutters and we donâ€™t have that anymore and there are so many mosquitos and people are dying of malaria.
Prevention, they say, is better than cure. So I see the company going all the way to where we could sweep the streets and get contracts to do a whole state and that would be my dream come true.â€