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My Money Mistake: I Lost My Savings To A Dodgy Business Investment

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 civil engineer who lost her savings to a business investment that went sour. She tells us how it happened, how it felt to lose it all, and the lessons she learnt from the experience. 

Could you tell me about your money mistake?

Around this time last year, my friend called me to tell me about his catfish farming business. He’d told me that he makes up to 100% profit on his investment and that there were no potential risks, unlike other kinds of farming. That made me even more interested. 

I’d known him and his farming business for a while, so I didn’t have any reason to doubt him. 

Sounds like he was overselling. How much did you put in the business?

I had initially asked to invest in 1,500 catfishes, to which he responded with an estimated cost of ₦1.5 million. I didn’t have that much money, so I asked for half of that.

I sent him ₦750,000 in October. We had signed forms and documentation to make the process formal, and the timeline of the deal was 5 months. But 5 months later, I didn’t get anything.

Oh no.

Yeah. When I called him, he came up with some excuses about issues with water during the dry season, resulting in the fishes dying. He assured me that he would restart the venture and guaranteed the return of my money. 

It’s been approximately seven months now, and I still haven’t received my initial investment or the promised returns. To make matters worse, I don’t think he’s still in the business because I haven’t heard anything from him regarding any fish farm activities since then.

After the first set of excuses, what was going through your mind?

At this point, I was getting worried and I was no longer confident that the deal was going to come through. He didn’t even call me to explain until I reached out to ask him about the returns. 

Have you tried reaching out to him?

Yes, and it’s always one story or the other. I just stopped calling him after a while. It’s tiring. 

Is this your first time doing this kind of investment?

Yes, this is my first time investing in anything farming at all. 

And are you giving up on it completely?

I am. I don’t think I can trust that kind of business investment enough to put my money into it again. 

How has it been losing that kind of money?

I think about it almost every time, especially when I’m broke. If I’d kept the money in my PiggyVest account for instance, that money would have gathered more than enough interest. 

What did you learn from that experience?

I learnt to never invest in a business that I don’t thoroughly understand or I’m not managing myself. My experience from this is that people will always overestimate the profitability of a business just to get your money. Then when you invest in it, you’ll start hearing stories. 

So I believe I need to understand the business, create time to learn about the business, or be hands-on in managing it for me to invest money into it. I can’t give someone my money anymore just because they say a business is good. 

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