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Saturday, 29 October 2016

My First Recession Experience. How I Survived! [Part 1]



My First recession experience as it happened...

It was 2008. I had just graduated from the University.

Recession

Fresh and bubbling with excitement and passion to get out there and make some mulla!

A close family friend had offered me a job in his publishing firm as an Advert Sales Executive.

This was my first post-university job.

Not much was offered by way of pay, as it was a commission driven role.


However, I was to have a stipend with which I could move around and get a thing or two done.

My job was to sell advert spaces for a soon-to-be-published publication that needed businesses and individuals to put up adverts.

Incidentally, this was 2008. The Global Financial Crisis had just hit, and everyone was in an apprehensive mode...not much different from what it is today.

I remember speaking to over 100 business owners across the city where I lived, and not one single business person was willing to part with a Naira of his revenue for adverts.

One of the top business owners I spoke to then, a man who ran a large supermarket told me a story I don't ever forget.

The sad man said he had lost over N50 million of his money in the stock market crash just months earlier.

All as a result of this, he was wary spending a kobo on anything, no matter how profitable or safe it was.

About a year before this time, an investment company launched in the city.

My First Recession  Experience Told...


This company was a stock brokerage and investment firm  and helped clients buy shares/investments in the stock market.

They quickly became popular with their aggressive marketing, radio programmes and campaigns as well as the high confidence in their performance.

A lot of people bought into the company's "investments" (which I must say, were 100% legit).

By early 2009, this company had closed shop, and people lost literally billions.

It is interesting to note that a lot of Nigerians during the same period still made billions, although playing the game by a different set of rules.

To cut a long story short, my first job lasted barely 30 days, as I could not realize any advert sale.

Fast forward to 2016, and sometime in July, it started to feel like it's deja vu all over again.

Nigeria's Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun disclosed that the country was "technically" in a recession.



To the layman on the street, it simply meant: less money is now in circulation (if at all any is circulating), many would lose jobs, some businesses would shut down, cost of living will rise, and things are generally going to get harder.

By September the heat was fully on as inflation had hit record highs.

My 2008 experience came to mind as I go about my daily activities today.

For many Nigerians who are familiar with history, they say 2016 is very much like a repeat of 1984.

Although I wasn't born then, I've read and learned quite a lot about that year.

For me, the 1984 story is so much similar to my 200809 experience.

It was quite striking that businesses failed to make right, profitable investment decisions at the time due to horrible experiences they had had earlier.

Greed Drives Recession


So many lived in fear and apprehension, even when the opportunities for recovery were lying right there.

I recall in December of 2008, a friend disclosed he had bought a chunk of shares in a then popular oil and gas company.

Excited as he was, and happy as we were for his bold move, I felt cold shivers down my spine.

I was sure the stock was going to come crashing down in a matter of months.

Perhaps if I had been a broker or a prophet, I could have made a killing simply dishing out investment advice.

interestingly, several folks came up on the scene bearing the tag "financial experts".

With all manner of rhetoric, investment jargon and persuasive selling skills to hoodwink people to part with their hard earned cash.


In early 2009, a friend and I started our own tabloid, a weekly entertainment-focused news publication.

Like magic, we were gaining traction and generating leads, and lots of goodwill, although very little hard cash.

By September 2009, we had lost steam and my partner, who was the major financier, called it quits.

Between December 2008 and September 2009, several "wonder banks" and "investment schemes" sprang up like rockets and crashed like heavy amala.

To be continued...

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