Not every nanny is lucky to have an employer as good as Lola. So on this episode of our MoneyRise User Story, we spoke to Lola of Abuja, who introduced her kids’ nanny to Risevest, and ever since, has helped her grow her money in dollars. Lola talks about becoming a lawyer as well as an entrepreneur, founding a shoe business– The Shoe Shop. Her difficulty accessing dollars, finding Rise and even tagging her kids’ nanny along in her financial journey, using Rise. This is her story.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Lola, and I’m an entrepreneur. I sell shoes, but I’m also a lawyer and a mum. I live in Abuja, Nigeria.

What was childhood like for you?

I wasn’t exactly excited about growing up. But in retrospect, I see that my childhood was great. My parents were really kind and loving. They loved each other, so watching them love each other really shaped me. I grew up in an atmosphere of love, and that really built a lot of confidence in me. I owe all the confidence I have to my parents; they spoke it into me and convinced me that I was the best. I was the deal. I could do whatever I wanted to do, and be whoever I wanted to be. It was great.

You have a shoe business. Can you tell us about it?

I sell shoes. I’ve been selling shoes since 2013. As soon as I finished law school, I started my business which is called The Shoe Shop. We import them from the US and the UK, so my business relies heavily on the US dollar. It’s always been the US dollars. It’s been very rewarding to the extent that when I started the business, not a lot of people were doing it on Instagram at the time. That helped us to grow fast and well. Now, we ship shoes all over Nigeria. We have free nationwide delivery, so we are able to send shoes to every part of the country. Every state in Nigeria. People jump in for shipping and shoes are great, although not very affordable anymore due to the dollar-naira issues. And I’m happier. I feel like starting my own business after law school was one of the best things I have ever done. It has helped to define my path as a business person. It helped me to realise that  longterm, I’m not interested in becoming a fancy or big-name lawyer like my dad who is a senior advocate.It’s the highest echelon of what lawyers can be in Nigeria. And because I’m his first child, and also a lawyer, people thought or maybe, I thought that at some point in my life, I’d want to follow in his footsteps. However, starting my business and watching it grow and work out for me made me realise that there’s a different path outside there and that it was probably for me. With my success in my business, I have been able to convert my parents into entrepreneurs as well. Shortly after my business started doing well, they also wanted to get into business, so they started an event centre. I was able to help them take over the business and manage it and turn it into money. People now see my family and I as business people. 

That is impressive! So what was the inspiration behind it and how’s it going?

At the time I started my business, it was honestly from a place of need. I needed shoes. I lived in England for about four years where I studied. When I was there, buying shoes was a common thing for me. I could just decide that I wanted a pair of shoes, and I would get them easily online or in a store. The shoes were usually nice, trendy and new. When I moved back to Nigeria in 2012, I started law school. In that one year of being in law school, I didn’t buy any shoes. I wore some of the shoes I brought from England. Towards the end of law school, I realised that I needed shoes for other things. I tried to buy them in Nigeria only to realise that it wasn’t as easy as it was for me when I was in England. There was not just one website where I could just go and see shoes. That was the first problem. I also couldn’t walk into a store, and it’d just be shoes. All the stores that had shoes had them as an afterthought. Their major business was clothes, accessories and maybe, some bags. For all the places I saw, shoes, for them, were an afterthought. I knew that wasn’t going to work for me as a shoe lover. Many of those places that I found that sold shoes, didn’t have great ones. There were only a few, hence, not many options. They were also not very nice-looking; they looked like they’ve been in the store for a long time. Some of them looked so old and ugly, like shoes from back in the day. There was nothing trendy. I could see really nice and trendy shoes on Instagram, but not in real life, in Abuja. Interestingly, as old and ugly as they were, they were still quite expensive. It wasn’t adding up. I realised that if I was having that problem, a lot of people were probably having the same problem. That was when I decided to start my business. My focus was just shoes so that any woman who thinks, “oh, I need shoes”, she’d know my store is the place to go to. That’s the inspiration behind my business, and it’s going well.

Were there any challenges you faced when you started your business? Are there any you face now?

When I tried to start the business, my biggest challenge was my parents. They didn’t support what I was doing. They felt like they had invested so much in me, sending me to England to study law, so why would I want to sell shoes? It didn’t make any sense to them, so they were not having it. I mean, I don’t blame them; they were just trying to protect me, their investment. It was quite a struggle then. I understood their point of view, and we came to some sort of compromise where I said “You know what? You have a very large building for your offices, why don’t you give me a small room there that I’d double as both my law office and shoe shop?” So we came to an agreement where they said I should practise law for five years, and if I didn’t like it, I could venture into the business I wanted. But then I said if I was going to practise law for five years, I still couldn’t abandon my business, so I sold shoes from home for about two years. Then after that, I asked if my parents could give me some space in their office, so I wouldn’t be shuffling between home and office to make deliveries. They agreed to that and gave me a space that became my first shop. That was my biggest problem at first; my parents weren’t very supportive. But we are good now, they are now my biggest supporters – as well as my husband, Ayo. 

Currently, my biggest problem is getting access to dollars. We need dollars. We buy the shoes in dollars. Accessing dollars is getting harder and harder every single day. We were using Barter card from Flutterwave, but they recently just announced this past month that they were shutting down their services. So getting dollars is such a struggle. I’ve considered the possibility of manufacturing, but it doesn’t make much sense manufacturing in Nigeria with the current power and diesel situations, especially if we’re still going to be importing materials. So if we’re talking about current challenges, it’s definitely accessing the dollar. The dollar doesn’t just affect me in my buying of shoes, it also affects my customers indirectly. Their purchasing power is reducing because everything is imported, and the dollar-naira exchange rate is a joke. My customers don’t have the same purchasing power as they did before. Their salaries are not increasing to match the prices of the shoes or anything that they are buying. People who think they are rich are kind of getting poorer. As long as you’re not earning in USD, you’re poor. That’s just the truth. This is one of the reasons I really appreciate Risevest because right now, it’s my only source of USD income. I’m looking for ways to earn money in dollars, but at the moment, Risevest is my only source: $3 today, $5 tomorrow, $30 from my referral, $20, $11 make a whole lot of difference.

You have a Youtube channel, can you tell us about it? How do you also manage everything you do?

To be honest, I don’t quite manage anything; I just take everything as it comes. I haven’t posted anything on the Youtube channel since I posted about Risevest, which was in March. I have just been tired. I created it mostly because I get a lot of questions about business, and I don’t like answering them one by one in the DMs. So I created the channel to direct them to my channel where similar questions have been asked and answered. But I haven’t added anything new in a couple of months.

That often happens, even to the best of us. So let’s talk about money. What’s your relationship with money?

Right now, my relationship with money is still growing because once in a while, I tend to splurge on expensive designer bags, which is currently my biggest challenge. If there were no expensive designer bags in the world, I’d have a lot more money in my account. I’d have had a lot more money invested. I find that the bags just keep calling me, I want them in different colours and shapes. That’s my biggest challenge with money. However, my biggest strength is that I know how to give it. I like that I’m not so stuck up on money that I can’t give it. I’m constantly giving. And because I’m a christian, one thing I have always wanted to do is that I wanted to be someone who finances kingdom work and evangelism. Recently, I found out that I’ve become a kingdom financier, and that’s one part of my relationship with money that makes me very happy. I know that I can take some of the money I’d have used on a bag and give it to a ministry, a missionwork or a cause. That’s basically my relationship with money – constantly evolving. One thing I love about it is that there’s a paper trail; I don’t just wake up at the end of the month with no idea where my money went. I know exactly, because I track it. At the end of the month, I see all the things I spend my money on. I like that I have a tracking method that helps to keep me in check.

How did you start investing?

After I read the book, The Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu, I realised that putting my money in a savings account was the stupidest thing I could be doing. It wasn’t the best use of my money, and I learned that I could actually make my money work for me. So I started investing. I think the things that really spoke to me were the concepts of putting my money to work, and that having my money in naira was me incurring constant loss on whatever amount of money I had. Like, no matter how much I have, as long as it is in naira, I’m just going to keep taking hits without even knowing it. Learning about making my money working for me led me to mutual funds. I first started with Stanbic IBTC mutual funds where I invested my money. It was as the dollar-naira power tussle started that I realised that it wasn’t a good idea to continue keeping my money there. I also think it was around that time that I must have seen a tweet about Rise. I downloaded the app, but like a lot of people, I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t sign up or activate my account till about a year after. That was when I started using Risevest.

How did your journey with Rise start?

Like I mentioned before, I must have found Rise for the first time on Twitter. I think I must have seen somebody tweet about it. It sounded nice to me, so I downloaded the app, but never used it. A year later, I got a small loan from CBN for my business. When I got that loan, I thought it’d be wise to remove the profits I had made in the past couple of years, keep them aside and work with just the CBN money as my capital. If I needed more money, I’d inject. But I also knew it’d be stupid of me to keep the money in naira because when I need to buy more shoes, I’d need it in dollars. I decided to keep the money in Risevest. At the time, the Fixed Income plan was called Eurobonds, so I put it there because it was low risk and the returns were guaranteed. I locked it away for 12 months because I didn’t need the money. After investing the money, I deleted the app. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like checking their finance apps every day to see if I’m losing or gaining money. I also didn’t want to be tempted to break my investment, so I deleted it. A year later, two things happened: I made 10% of my Fixed Income investment as guaranteed by Risevest. But something better happened which was that the naira had fallen. It had gone from about 400 naira/$1 to about 500 naira/$1. I not only made money off my investment returns, I also made money off the difference in the exchange rate in just  a one year timeframe. That made me realise that Risevest was for me. Until I found something that offers better, it is my last bus stop.

We’re clearly doing the Lord’s work! So what plans do you have on Rise?

Personally, I have 3 plans: one for myself, my kids’ nanny and my eldest daughter. I’m trying to gather some money for my daughter’s future education, but I’ve not been very consistent with that. I’ve just been sending all the money to my plan. I feel like I need to find a way to structure my money better in such a way that I can say this percentage is for my daughter’s education, and this one’s for me. Then I did something: at the beginning of the year or at the end of last year,, I moved some of my money from Fixed Income to Stocks, and I wish I didn’t do that because I realised that I’m not that kind of investor. I do not have that high risk appetite to watch my money go up and down. I only want it to go in one direction, no matter how slow it is.

Nanny? Tell us about it.

Yes, I introduced my kids’ nanny to Rise. I was so happy with my experience  that I started telling everyone about it. I told my parents and brothers. I told everyone on my Youtube channel. I told my friends on Instagram and even tweeted about it a couple of times. I also told my staff, including my kids’ nanny. I told her because she used to give me part of her salary every month to help her keep. But since I don’t save my money in naira, I suggested putting it in Rise which at that time, she didn’t understand, but agreed to. She just trusted me, knowing I won’t run away with her money. I did the 3 months maturity plan for her because I feared she might need the money, unlike me. I reinvest it every 3 months, if she doesn’tneed it. So after about a year, which was just a few months ago, I told her how much she had made and she was so shocked. She didn’t expect the money to grow so much as it did. But because we weren’t saving in naira, it grew both based on the investment returns and the exchange rate difference. We were also saving every month; 10k naira here, 15k naira there. I also encouraged her to start an online side hustle she could operate from Instagram, aside from just caring for my kids, which she did. So she has also been sending the profits from there to her Rise account. She usually sends it to my Wema bank, which I help her pay into her Rise account and invest in her plan.

God, when? So what are your thoughts on investing?

After I put some money in stocks, I realised it wasn’t for me. My money has been on a downward trend. It’s always been red. But I had to do that to decide that it wasn’t for me. I have tried both low risk and medium risk investments on Rise (Fixed Income and Real Estate) and both worked for me. However, it wasn’t the case with stocks. I’ve concluded that it isn’t the kind of investment for me. I like safe, slow and steady. I like predictability. I want to have an idea of what it’s going to look like in a year or years. So it’s important for investors to know their risk appetite before they decide to invest. 

Thank you so much, Lola, for doing this with us. It was fun.