If You Are Given N1Million To Invest In A Business To Break Even By End of 2015, What Would You Do?

Our topic of discussion today is going to be simple, short and hopefully useful to every single one of us. So while in traffic yesterday, I was listening to the radio when an OAPs asked a seemingly simple question: If you are given 5 million Naira today and asked to invest it in a legitimate…


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Our topic of discussion today is going to be simple, short and hopefully useful to every single one of us. So while in traffic yesterday, I was listening to the radio when an OAPs asked a seemingly simple question:

If you are given 5 million Naira today and asked to invest it in a legitimate business to try as much as you can to break even by the end of 2015, what would you do?

Well, I did say seemingly simple right? Before we get to the discussion, allow me to give you some background and the thoughts that ran through my mind when I first heard the question.

For starters, I was a little disappointed with myself – why? Because I didn’t immediately have an answer. It took me almost 10 minutes to remember something I had thought about in the past and eventually come up with a befitting response. You’re probably thinking, well, most young Nigerians probably wouldn’t have an answer immediately too so what’s my problem? Well, you see, the thing is, that’s not an excuse. At my age, you have a lot of dreams and projects you’re probably chasing – things like marriage, starting a family, building a good career or developing your business, acquiring property etc will probably constantly be on your mind. So if that question was if you are given 5 million as a gift without the clause of having to invest it and break even, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had to think about an answer. Sure, some of you would still have had to deliberate on whether to buy an Hyundai Elantra on a Kia Optima and end up taking just as much time as you would have to figure out an answer to the first question.

The OAP opened the phone lines and the calls started coming in. It started with the pessimists or rather, the so-called experts – bankers, economic analysts etc who were quick to conclude it isn’t possible legitimately taking the current Nigerian business climate into consideration. Figures and terminologies – inflation rate, lending rate and interest rate blah blah blah were thrown around and for a second, they almost won listeners over. But the OAP was persistent, she insisted that she felt, someway, somehow it was possible even though she didn’t know how. She then went on to encourage more people to call in and not to be worried about giving away their business ideas, rather they should look at it as sharing knowledge and educating others.

This encouraged more people to call in and I was surprised to see the next set of callers were traders or those one could easily put down as members of the lower class just from listening to how they spoke. One of them was a trader specializing in tyres and car batteries at a popular market in Lagos. He had a thick igbo accent but he was able to express himself well enough to share his idea. He spoke about travelling to China to import tyres and batteries because they are non-perishable goods. Also, with that amount of money, he could negotiate major discounts which would improve his profit margin.

Without going too much into details, even though his business idea would not end up breaking even after just one year, I found it interesting how he was able to communicate his ideas – almost as if he had already thought it up and was only waiting for someone somewhere someday to finance his dreams.

There were several other callers on the show and a lot of them had really interesting ideas which had never ever crossed my mind – apparently, running a building block making plant is a goldmine in Lagos. Same goes for inter-state transportation and exporting items like cassava flakes and charcoal.

Of course all businesses have their challenges and following proper analysis, I’m sure one will find more than enough reasons to discourage you from venturing into any of these businesses but that is not why we are here.

Sometime late last year, I remember asking a question on Twitter. I asked how many people have had N1 million spend 24 hours in their bank account and even though I wasn’t surprised with the low response, many were. This was part of another conversation where I was trying to convince people that the level of poverty in this country is underestimated. I made reference to that today because perhaps one of the reasons for this is because most of the so-called members of the middle class are mentally lazy.

I sure as hell haven’t received 5 million from an investor but this shouldn’t stop me from exercising my mind regularly by making enquiries, reading books etc to prepare myself for such opportunities. I have quite a few bank accounts and my friends tease me because I know all the account numbers by heart – my excuse for memorizing them has always been the same. What if you bump into a billionaire who decides to gift you a million dollars only on the condition that you had to provide your account details in a few seconds?

Ok, maybe I watch too many movies but you get my point. It’s a new year and I’m sure most of us have made resolutions and what not but what’s the point of doing this if you don’t prepare yourself for that quantum leap?

Our discussion today is more like a challenge. Yes I’m going to ask a modified version of the question that OAP asked yesterday:

If you are given 1 million Naira today and asked to invest it in a legitimate business to try as much as you can to break even by the end of 2015, what would you do?

I reduced the figure to 1 million because I know some people get intimidated when they see large amounts of money. But here’s the second part. I want you to tell us if you already had that idea or you had to spend some time to think it up – if so, tell us how long and then why? Is it because you are a little too comfortable or you just don’t believe in fairytales. Use the comment box to express you.


  1. enajyte
    We have a culture of throwing it away if it's bad. We don't fix, we don't turn it into anything else, we throw away.

    1. If I was given N1 million, I'd start a furniture and arts decor company. We'll take old furniture and everything from tin cans to bottles to old clothes and turn them into African art themed decorations. Imagine that old wooden crib that's almost falling apart but you don't want to let go of? We'll turn it into a lovely table with a space underneath for knickknacks, books etc.

    2. Agriculture. I have a farm already. N1 million naira will go into cassava and palm oil production. (This needs more than a year sha.)

    3. Do you know how many Nigerian novels (besides the ones recommended for school and the ones people buy cos a family member wrote it) are sold? Very few. Do you know how many young people in the South East alone (let me talk of where I know) love reading but can't find cheap African contemporary stories to buy? Thousands. That is a market right there.

    I can sell 20,000 novels in five states (5 different books) at N200 each in a year. With N1 million naira I can cover initial production and marketing.

    I didn't just think these up. 🙂

    And please if you want to poke holes in these ideas, go ahead. I need all the poking I can get (that sounds somehow but you get the idea. lol)

  2. Taiye Oduwaiye
    Although I consider a million naira too small to commit, I would give my 2 cents(kobo).

    I would take that money, call my associates in the north( gombe, Jos and bauchi) and do tomato at the beginning of the year, maize mid year and onions through the end. That's three seasons. Past experience makes me know there is a 22-33% average RoI per season, as long as you work with the right people.

    But that's not the beatiful part, the beauty of it is the win win business model. Labour is dead cheap in those regions so that's where your margins racks up and then in return you are providing employment which I find the most digifying thing to do as a person.

    I hope I gave some folks out there a model to work exploit.

    Note: it could be quite stressful following up on this things and trust factor is primary to successfully exploit this business.

    Taiye Oduwaiye.

      1. @GabrielShaze
        LOL. At all o.
        Folks are buying land for less than 500k in this country but dont expect to find such pieces of land in the urban areas. A friend of mine is purchasing two plots of land in Kogi state for 150K & 170K respectively
  3. olaige73
    Investing in houses in the less popular/developed areas of Nigeria such as Lagos, Abuja etc. and majorly in the areas which have universities. Am from the UK and I can tell you that the government take loads of money from university students especially international and so doing the same thing in Nigeria with less if the facilities will help. If you communicate with the right people and invest your 1m although it will take more than a year to get it due to building of the accommodations etc you still make at least x2 of that 1m.

    1. Wale Adetula
      Wait, you mean less popular areas outside Lagos, Abuja etc right? Even at that, not sure how much of a structure you can put up with 1m..
  4. Damilola
    I will open a Food court and go into the business of selling food. Local foods only. By that,I mean only Amala,Eba,Pounded yam,Ikokore,Tuwo,and what have you. From my little understanding,there’s atleast,a profit margin of 40%,coupled with the fact that semi-skilled laborers will be needed. The bulk of the money will go to renting a shop/piece of land for the business.

    Another option is selling of cooking gas. 4-5 50kg cylinders is okay for a start. There’s a profit margin of about 18-20% and come what may,there’re always customers for cooking gas as so many people have reduced the use of kerosene and hotplates. Semi-skilled manlabor is also needed here. One to two young boys. The key however,is getting the right environment for the business

  5. babe
    lol..was thinking about this before i saw your post. i am certain that farming is a very profitable business and its something i am passionate about. however i just finished my degree in the uk, i can just imagine the look on my parents faces if i tell them their daughter wants to become a farmer after all the money they have spent on my education.
    anyways back to the post, i would advise anyone to go into a business that caters for needs…people would always need food and shelter.
  6. Ezim Osai
    I've always wanted to start up a food delivery service online. I'm so lazy to go buy food sometimes that I would pay a token for someone to deliver it to me. I think with 1M I could get it started and break even within a year.

    Or I could invest it in my new book ^_^
    But I guess that doesn't count as a business

  7. Nosa
    This is a tough one. not because of lack of ideas but because given the country we are in, breaking even in a year would be extremely hard but doable. it doesn't matter what business you do, it won't pay much if you don't know how to legally exploit the loopholes in a business structure and operations.

    i could a run a sports bookmaker business (haven't researched the logistics involved).

    but here's one i actually did a business plan for: hold a trade fair in a school campus and let the majority of the business you showcase be something that students have a rave about. You can proposition firms to buy a slot in your catalog and negotiate a deal where they offer discount to students for certain targets reached. make it fun and lively. books, computer equipments, fashion, finance, and such.

    it"s like a mashup of a aliexpress, dealdey, and olx.

  8. dejidope
    i would start a car customizing business like Pimp My Ride, might need more than N1million tho, but i will see what i can do with the money and continue from there and yes it is something i have wanted to do for a while and will still do in due time, not sure if i would be able to break even by th e end of the year tho
  9. Tola
    What I would invest in is simple, but there is no way it would break even by the end of the year. Maybe by 2020 at the earliest, but definitely not by the end of 2015. Nobody can do that. It's unrealistic

    The answer is simple: Solar Energy. For the following reasons:

    1. Oil is a finite commodity and we're not going to be able to reap its benefits forever.
    2. Our biggest trading partners are moving away from oil and already investing in other renewable resources (like solar). We're already behind on this trend.
    3. Nigeria is really close to the equator, so we have a relatively stable supply of sunlight throughout the year.
    4. The stability that a near constant supply of electrical power harnessed through the sun can provide means that productivity in virtually every sector will improve.
    5. Improved productivity will ultimately translate to an improved standard of living both in terms of direct jobs creation through manufacturing, installation and maintenance, and also indirect savings since you won't have to rely on an outdated, under-maintained electrical grid. In short, Every house and homestead could potentially have some source of electricity that is self-contained and self-sustaining.

      1. Tola
        The price point has come down quite a bit in the last few years. In fact, the price point has been steadily dropping for almost a decade. There's no reason to believe that it won't continue to drop.

        Besides, with new technology and better materials, we might be able to find other ways to improve production and installation, such as building the solar panels into windows and Louvre blades

        1. highlandblue
          Yes. But it's not dropping that fast enough for widescale application. Especially in a third world country. And if you're to make money on it, you might need a bit more than a million. I think it was the one million figure I found restrictive for this
          1. Tola
            One million is at least enough to make a prototype that you can take to investors. Besides, I never said you could invest 1 million in a project like this and make it back by year's end. That's simply ludicrous.

            There's almost no industry where you can make that kind ROI, except maybe starting up a restaurant, but if you have to build it from scratch, then the chances of you being able to break even in such a short time go down very quickly.

  10. Shirts by Cynim
    I will invest in my clothing line, and scale it up. I'm bootstrapping now and it's kind of hard but ok. Since I left my banking job for this…
  11. Payche
    I'll quit my job and face my creative business fully, creating designs with indigenous prints, employ more helping hands, train people (especially, young people) for more or less free. Go for more trainings on my craft.
  12. oladimejiojo
    I would start a process delivery service to service the Nigerian judiciary. Hundreds of legal documents are filed every day. Process service is traditionally done by bailiffs but they're more than a bit inefficient.

    Majority of the capital expenditure would go into purchasing motorcycles that meet Lagos State requirements. I'll leave out the fine points. If it doesn't turn a profit before the end of 2015, it should soon afterwards.

    I hope.

  13. @GabrielShaze
    I'd do some research and invest the money in the stock market. If the share price increases by as little as 10%, I can sell my stocks worth 1mill (initial investment)and leave the remaining 100k there (well roughly 100k given that stockbrokers need to deduct their own fees).


  14. Fewa
    so i immediately thot of the business i have in mind for the year when this came upon twitter … i'll stage/produce a play in abuja.. give it crazy publicity and make sure its a beauty to watch with people getting value for their money.. just four shows… thats all… its not guranteed that one would make huge profit.. but its a risk worth taking as its a passion and in the end, one may make double that money in that short period.. with right planning…
  15. jay
    1 million is too much for my business plan sef. I'll just go to my hometown and open a Weavon wholesale and retail shop. I'll get double the money I invested before 2015 runs out.
  16. preshy
    i'll buy a commercial bus and give it to someone to run..he'll have a stated amount he's putting in my account on a weekly basis..he can keep the rest..
    i've done the maths…most def. break-even..
    All you need is a respectable and trustworthy somebody…
    Tula…if i was…when i'm a billionaire…i'll definitely invest in you
  17. Sope
    I have thought about this several times. You see in Nigeria wealth is generally not ‘created’. What I mean is that there’s little or no intellectual property, great patents e.t.c. And the fundamental way of creating wealth is to TILL the land. So I would most definitely by a plot of land and invest in Cattle, to take away the market from Fulani herdsmen, by using genetically engineered species and proper sanitation.
  18. Anon
    Somehow this post is apt. Speaks to me.
    I have 1.5m (saved up from 3years) sitting in a liquid fixed deposit (willing to spend 1m on a business) but I’m working at a 50k job right now.

    I’ve got Different business ideas.
    Sourcing and retailing female jackets/blazers
    Opening a modern cafe/business/Digital training centre.
    Fishing farming (if I can find cheap land in a rural area near Karu)

    But I am too afraid,

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