By CHARLES KUMOLU
That some of the most influential people today are millennials, is not surprising but how they achieve influence within a short period is amazing. Chief Executive Officer of CashBox, Mr. Sydney Aigbogun, is an example of one the millennials making impacts. He combined millennial ethos with individualism to become the founder of a flourishing business empire. You won’t read his story and still belong to those who consider millennials as just a mobile phone generation.
Not poor either:
I grew up in a middle class family. My parents provided all the basic things for my siblings and I. We had good housing, clothing, and education among others. We didn’t get the luxuries but we got good things. We weren’t really rich but not poor either. I have lived in Lagos basically all my life. I attended primary school, secondary school and university in Lagos. I learned a lot from my family and most values I have till date were all learned from my family. My parents taught me to always be someone of character and someone everybody can easily vouch for without fear or doubt. An important lesson I learned growing up is: money is good but a good name is better. I was brought up to be respectful, orderly, mannered and follow protocol.
Suddenly get broke
While growing up, I saw rich people get broke within and around my family. I always wondered what made a rich man to suddenly get broke. I realised it was lack of financial planning and investment. Most people were just comfortable and relied solely on one means of income. Also, people didn’t want to change with time. I heard many people saying they weren’t greedy and did not want to go the extra mile to be successful. I later learned that such statement was just an excuse for being lazy or probably scared of the unknown. All these affected my thinking and still do till date. I don’t want to make the same mistakes those before me, made.
I am always open to new ideas. The moment I start off a project, I am already thinking of the next big thing, and how to expand to reach a wider audience. I often tell my friends that our generation is the “cheat generation.” We have the internet, technology, and social media. Entrepreneurs many years ago did not have any of these and they still thrived. Technology is our “cheat.” What took so much work and time for entrepreneurs many years ago to achieve, can easily be achieved now from our office desk with just a click.
Regardless of your religion or belief, the “God factor” is key. Putting God first in everything one does and also constantly learning new things are important. Being smart is key, not just academically but in all areas. A lot of things I know now are things I originally almost knew nothing about but constant reading and learning helped me. Before my present project, I really didn’t know much about codes and how they work, but right now I find it amazing when I start to talk about codes like an Ivy League-trained programmer.
Intelligent and extremely hardworking
My parents are my greatest inspiration. My dad is an intelligent and extremely hardworking person. He taught me to believe in hard work and persistence in everything I do. My mother is our prayer warrior. She taught me to always put God first in everything. I have also learned a lot from just watching YouTube videos and reading online. I keep saying this: “Google is your friend” There is absolutely nothing that Google doesn’t have an answer to. What is required is just to search for it. I also learned the importance of having an effective company structure many years ago. No matter how small a company is, a structure should always be put in place to guide you.
My turning point
I have always been a business-inclined person. I started my first business when I was 16yrs old, and that was dog breeding. I graduated with a second class upper in Finance from the University of Lagos. My plan when I left the University was to work in a multinational company like many of my peers. My original plan was to have a 9-5 job for one year after which I will become an entrepreneur. I just basically wanted to see how a proper company structure looked like before I would start mine. But after a particular interview, I had at my dream multinational company back then, the partner who interviewed me told me he saw more in me. He said he believed I could do something more than working in that company. He was so sure I could do more.
Researching and asking questions
That was my turning point, after that interview I decided I was no longer getting a 9-5 job. I decided that I was going to start a business but I still wanted something within the finance sector even though I really did not have any idea of what I was going to do. I kept researching and asking questions. A few months later after raising some money, I started trading forex locally and internationally. I fully invested in this project for four years but I just wanted to do more. I had a very strong urge to do something that could touch more lives, not just about making money because forex was fetching enough money for me at the time. I wanted to reach more people and also employ more graduates. That was the reason I diversified into consumer finance.
Meeting set targets
CashBox was founded because many customers were constantly asking us if we offered some form of savings, and we kept saying no. But with constant pressure from customers, I started talking to some people and we decided to find the best way to go about savings. We wanted technology to be at the forefront. We did not want to do things the way traditional banks were doing it and at the same time we did not want our customers to pay for using our service, instead, we wanted to reward them with high interest for saving their money and meeting set targets.
When an opportunity comes
Starting a business is extremely difficult and running a business is even harder. Nobody wants to help you until they see you making significant progress. Some people are lucky to have rich parents who give them support, but the majority aren’t. The importance of hard work cannot be overemphasised. It is just to keep working hard and be persistent. When an opportunity comes, people should not be slow to it. It should be quickly grabbed before someone else does. I always advice that nobody should act like a CEO before the person actually becomes a CEO. Also, it is important to sit down and do the work. At the early stage of a business, the CEO should be a part of the customer care department which is the most important department in any business. And above all, be a person of character because character is key.
I haven’t achieved my greatest goal. I want people to just keep watching what I am doing. As a business owner, no matter what happens, always pay your staff.
There is absolutely no reason to owe salaries. Customers should be treated like kings, while staff should be regarded as queens. God, hard work, hard work, and more hard work cannot be mentioned enough.
Rent, feeding, clothing
CashBox is changing the way Nigerians are saving money. Our watchword is “Save money and money will save you”. We don’t want to see any Nigerian with an income being broke again. People don’t always have to run around looking for financial help when they need money for basic things. We understand that some sudden expenses might be above the means of some people, but for the basic things like rent, feeding, clothing and everyday things, people should have a saving plan to cover it. Our general rule at CashBox is to save at least 15 percent of monthly income every month. CashBox is already helping about 10,000 savers solve that problem and we intend to do that for more. CashBox is here to help everyone have a healthy saving habit, using technology.
*Nobody should be slow at grabbing opportunities
*Money is good but a good name is better
* People should change with time
*I am always open to new ideas