Tired of his low income, this senior extrusion operator turned to loan apps in the hopes of starting a viewing centre. That decision plunged him into crippling debt.
This is his story as told to Agnes Ekanem.
In 2019, I had financial issues and needed to find a way to increase my income. My salary was only ₦32,000/month, so it was difficult to start a business. One day, I saw an ad for a loan app when I was online. I’d always wanted to own a viewing centre, somewhere people could come and pay to watch football matches. My plan was to borrow money to start my business. That was a big mistake.
I needed ₦150,000, and I hoped to get a loan and combine it with my salary to open the centre. I took my first loan from the app. It was just ₦1,500, so it was easy to pay back. Subsequently, they gave me more money, but the interest rates were too high, and I suddenly couldn’t afford to pay them back.
It was crazy. They loaned me ₦44,000, but I was expected to pay back ₦75,000. How is that fair? I don’t even remember the exact interest rate, but I remember the amount. That was how the debt kept increasing. I tried to keep up by borrowing from one loan app to pay off the other, but that couldn’t last. It was all a mess. That’s how my debt went up to ₦255,000.
So far, I’ve only been able to pay back ₦30,000 and my debt keeps rising. I honestly don’t know what to do. I come from a humble background. My family wouldn’t have been unable to help me raise the money I needed to open the centre. And asking a bank was out of the question because they would have required collateral.
Still, I wish I had planned this entire thing better and thought it through. Starting a business isn’t easy, and I didn’t calculate what would be required to actually run one. I felt I could just start and make the money; that was a strong indication of not having a plan.
Loan apps can be dangerous, and I certainly wouldn’t advise anybody to collect a loan to start a business, especially if they don’t have a proper plan to pay back. That’s the easiest way to find yourself in crushing debt.