It was during my second year at the university that my business life started. As a student, I needed all the money I could lay my hands on, to assist me in my education. At first, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do to get this money. But later on, I had decided I’d take up a part-time teaching job.
A friend had just granted me a part-time teaching job at an evening school. I had told him I was badly in need of a part-time job. At the time, I was very young and enthusiastic, willing to share knowledge and in return, open up my scope for more learning.
As enthusiastic and vibrant as I was, I took up the challenge for the job at the school which gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent and ability.
Facing my first major challenge as a hustler
When I took up this teaching job, I immediately began facing so many challenges; my students often disrespected and bullied me because they considered me to be too small to be their teacher. Being bullied by your students can make you rethink your decision to be a teacher. Despite all the disrespect and the bullying, I persistently endured for two months before quitting.
Later on, YEMARS Accounting firm granted me a part-time job where I served as an assistant accountant for five months. It was a great experience working at YEMARS because, during this period, I gained a lot of experience in the field of accounting.
After that period, I stopped because of the mismanagement of the company which led to its subsequent closure. From there, I initiated an idea with friends to establish a joint business, which we had to contribute a total of FCFA 35.000 as our startup capital. We were three school friends, about to become three partners in business.
Hassles in the first joint business
For a start, we had to buy things and move to the administrative area of Buea within our free periods when we had no classes to sell the products we had. Because we had very little capital, we struck a deal with a store owner to collect his products and sell. Yet, things were not moving and not stable. It was very difficult for us to pull through. So, we had to stop and prepare for our HND examination.
But after our examination, I stayed back in Buea. Staying back in Buea at the time, gave me the opportunity to join a trade with someone in the carpentry field, where I learned how to produce chairs, tables, beds, etc. during my vacation.
When schools resumed and my parents gave me the first installment of my fees, I used part of it to invest in the carpentry business as my working capital. Unfortunately, thieves made away with the chairs, beds, and tables that I produced. I was devastated. It was my initial school fees. But I had to go to school and I had to look for a means of raising my school fees as fast as possible. So, I struggled all over again and managed to raise some money to complete the fees within that period.
Before long, my parents sent the other half of my fees which I still took the risk of investing part of it into the production of office furniture. Within this period, I attended school three times a week and as a result, I had to choose between business and school. So, I shifted my focus from the business which was currently stagnant. Within that period, the Anglophone crisis started and things became so difficult.
Rejection sets in
I went through all this with my best friend, Yuong Mehdi whom we worked together on this idea. We later on decided that it would be wise for us to go out of the country if we needed to succeed. But the most devastating thing happened. After following up with our travel documents, my friend was lucky to receive his visa. I wasn’t that lucky. While this separation posed a serious threat to our idea, I wasn’t ready to let it die.
In 2016, with so much disappointment and confusion during that period, I was fortunate to enroll in a program called ATSWSA (Accounting Technicians for West Africa). At the time, it was still new in Cameroon and only five of us went in for the first seating. Fortunately, just three of us made it which was an equivalent to a degree.
After this program, I had to prepare myself and think of what next to do with the knowledge and skills I had acquired. So, I followed up an online trading course which helped me learn and acquire the skills for stock trading as well as the operation of the stock market.
At the time, I had no capital to invest in trade. So, I stopped and went back to carpentry which helped me to raise a considerable amount of startup capital.
Bringing ANC Stock to live
The passion I had for accounting made me want to be my own boss. But I also aspired to further my education, so I enrolled in an online Master’s program in Finance at Keyano College. As such, I took the advantage at that time to transfer the funds I had earlier paid but later, I had to suspend the program because of financial constraints.
I needed to start my own business, fast. I started by writing a business plan for ANC STOCK INVESTMENT LTD. With this burning desire to become my own boss, I had the urge to raise capital for the business. I started pitching the business plan to my family members, friends, and some three investors I was opportune to get.
From there, I started following up the legal process of registering the business. At the time, I didn’t have an office. Working from home, and with the coming of a few investors who bought the idea, I was able to move a step forward by relocating to our current location at mile 17, Buea.
The office was painted white, and it had only one ceiling-to-floor window, which faced the main Mile 17 street. In a state of half-organized clutter, with a chair behind it, a mahogany desk that served as my reading table sat in one corner of the room. On the desk sat a stack of papers scattered all over the table, while a few pens rested on them. Unlike many other offices on the office flat, mine didn’t have an air conditioner blustering through the room.
All I had was grit
For the first three months, I had to work alone. But the vision I had pushed me to raise some funds to acquire more equipment for the office. It was really difficult for me by then. So I sought financial help from my family members and friends but help never came because they didn’t believe in what I was building.
With no one to turn to, I had no choice but to engage in some menial jobs to keep up with the expenses and to build my vision. I remember how I attended events and everyone neglected me because they minimized me to express myself as the founder of ANC Stock, something that still happens till date at some events.
However, I kept believing in what I was building. That grit eventually paid off after I presented my vision to some individuals who have now become major investors in the company. I then pulled up things to this level and I must say, it has not been easy since we initiated the business operations within the crisis. But as of now, we are doing great and have grown in all aspects; we have more investors and currently looking at expanding into other towns and regions of the country.