”Do not listen to anyone telling you to invest ooo!”
That was the voice of my mother, but I will never forget this investment experience that later saved my life.
My first Major visit to Nigeria after almost 10 years was in 2007, Banana Island and Oniru Estate were the best locations where you could find the movers and shakers of Lagos. MoHits had just released their numerous singles, ‘Why Me’ & “Pere” were my best jams…. if you weren’t in 1145 or Bacchus on Friday nights, you were lost in the social scene.
I learnt everything from Aristo to Groto, the best place to eat Ofada rice and their Sunday nights had no Part 2. I was just 26years old. I had a G-Wagon and a Blue convertible MiniCooper GT. I didn’t understand the Nigerian Investment Scheme. I was naive and somewhat paranoid.
I met this developer Akin, who had a beautiful piece of land, located on a major road in Oniru Private Estate. His amazing Brochure showed that he was developing a 16 unit 3-Bedroom apartment.
“Suji, this is an opportunity of a life time, I am only giving you this chance because you speak French and we are both young. I have 16 Units and I have sold 12, grab 1 now before it is too late. For now it’s selling for 50M Naira, if you buy now, you can sell when we complete the project for 100M Naira”
It sounded too good to be true, but coming from a Venture Capital background, things like this were not strange to me. However, this young Oniru developer was too sharp for me. I was new in Lagos, and he was very persuasive. Do I trust him or not?
After spending 5 weeks in Nigeria, I had to go back to Paris. I had about 70M Naira left and I had only 2 choices: invest 50M Naira into the Oniru property or put it a Fixed Deposit and make 7% annually?
The fixed deposit was an insult on my intelligence but it was safe. The Oniru off-plan property sounded great but too risky. As a strategic risk-taker, hedging my risk on security and assurances, I took the Oniru property; after all, I had already spent more than 30M in nightclubs and on gifts for family and friends. I closed my eyes, paid Akin the 25M and gave him post-dated Cheques for 10M and 15M Naira, tied to milestones.
My Mum nearly fainted when she heard.
‘Ajaniogunnnn!!! You have given money to a thief!!!’
My aunty, my friends, my brother, everyone told me I was stupid; that the Developer will use my money to drink Champagne in Groto, but I trusted the Developer and I loved the project. My heart was beating fast but my conscience told me I did the right thing. People talk nonsense about things they don’t understand.
1 year after, no apartment, no house, Akin’s phones were switched off!
‘Chaiiii!!!! This guy has finished me! Should I contact EFCC and SFU? I want my money back.”
Then, One beautiful summer of 2009, Akin called me:
“Mr Suji, sorry I have been away. I lost my mum but all is good. I am back now and your property will be ready in 8months. If you want your money back, I can send it to you in 3 Months.”
I was confused but I trusted the voice in my head. I allowed him to go ahead with the building and in 7 months, I received a nice 3 Bedroom with 1 BQ and 2 car parks.
Unfortunately for me, 2009 was a rough year, the international economic recession had affected my business and I was in dire need of money and sold my apartment for 105M Naira. This saved my life. What looked like failure became a fortune. I changed this money to Euros, revamped my business and compounded that money INTO MILLIONS which became the foundation on which I started Sujimoto construction in 2014.