My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 27–year–old Nigerian model in Cape Town who got double-crossed by a friend he tried to do business with. He tells us about investing in the business and the importance of a signed agreement.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
It happened in 2019; I had just gotten a huge pay-check from my biggest commercial yet. After I sent some money to my family, I still had enough left, so when a friend approached me about his cleaning business, I thought this was a great opportunity to invest.
I thought I was being a business-conscious person. Unfortunately, he betrayed me and excluded me from the business profits.
Wait. How did he do that?
He told me he had a registered window-cleaning business that wasn’t doing well and needed funds to buy cleaning materials. So I gave him 8000 rands (about ₦250K).
Our agreement at that point was this was a partnership and we were both to find cleaning jobs and split the profit. I found an opportunity at the building of my modelling agency.
After setting up a meeting with the necessary people, everything went south.
What happened at the meeting?
At the meeting, he stated that the business was all his, and since the business was registered in his name, I couldn’t dispute it. The only reason this meeting was set up was because I told the owner of the agency, who was part of the building’s board of trustees, that I also owned the business.
That was why he agreed to give the business a shot. My friend’s statement now made me look like a liar.
Yeah, that sucks.
Yes. I was then told to go register my own cleaning business and come back with my quote. Registering a new business usually takes time, especially as a foreigner. But my friend went behind my back, stated his quote and got the job without telling me.
That’s terrible. Why do you think he did that?
It was too good of an opportunity to miss, I guess. It’s a three-story building with a number of offices, and the contract was to provide window cleaners and office cleaners. We would be in charge of cleaning the entire building.
The contract was about 25k rands (over ₦600k). Since I had brought in the job, we had agreed on a 70/30 cut from this pay.
Did he agree to this percentage cut?
Yes, he did. But now I feel he was just desperate to get the ball rolling but had no intentions of sticking to the agreement. That was how I was supposed to get back my investment.
Did you confront him about going behind your back?
I did, but he wasn’t remorseful. He said he didn’t see what he did wrong; I wasn’t fit for the job. He made reference to my lack of knowledge about the business. In his words, I am abroad so anything can happen.
Did you ever get back the money you invested?
No, not even a dime. Eventually, I started sending threatening texts demanding my money, all to no avail. Apparently, he did the job for only three months and then left for another town. That’s the last I saw or spoke to him.
Why didn’t you report him to the police?
Oh, I did, but the police couldn’t do anything. They said it was a civil case not a criminal case.
What’s your biggest lesson from all this?
Always get a signed agreement. Don’t be naive and too trusting in business with anyone.