A TÊTE A TÊTE WITH THE MAN OF CORPORATE WATER

A picture of Michael Iloduba, the man of corporate table water in his official work attire; hawking sachet water on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria.

So, as promised; I am here to deliver. This is supposed to have been done earlier ago but then, as the saying goes, “better late than never”. Talks on recession of Nigeria’s economy are being spread everywhere but only a few actually feel the sting of the nation’s recession. The sale of sachet water is a business that is reported to yield a good profit; as it thrives in the sun burnt environment that leaves you constantly thirsty. One of the shock waves of this year is the picture of a young man corporately dressed in suit, tie and shoe; to hawk sachet water. It was a news that was received with mixed feelings. How be it, it is a very laudable feat to me as it showed strong will, and bravery in the face of daunting financial lions. The Nigerian youths are widely renowned for internet fraud; and it really doesn’t take a lot to learn; Why did he not ply his trade in fraud? Or why did he not take the now common path of suicide? How did he do this not withstanding the thoughts of friends?

Previously featured by the PUNCH NEWSPAPERS of Nigeria as well as other blogs and vlogs; and was recently picked by the ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION of Nigeria as their #YoungNLegit pick of the week on 16th December, 2019. PAUL KAY’S BLOG (smiles) decided to call him in for not just an interview, but a tête a tête with the man behind the man.

Before I proceed, I’d give a short bio of our interviewee…

BIO OF INTERVIEWEE: My name is Michael Iloduba. I’m from a family of six (parents,three siblings and myself). I hail from Anambra state, Nigeria. But, I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria.

I: Thank you so much, so for the sake of this interview; can I call you Mr. Mike?

MR. MIKE: Okay, Sir.

I: So, Mr Mike…. From my gatherings, you’re the face of Corporate Table Water. What mused you into it?

MR. MIKE: Frustration, joblessness, and strandedness

A picture of Mr. Mike on another day, with his attire on his business; selling his corporate water.

I: (Laughs) I know typing can be strenuous at times. But your replies should be explicit.

MR. MIKE: Okay, I meant frustration, joblessness and strandedness; lured me into selling corporate water.

I: So Mr. Mike, as much as I’m moved to ask you to tell me about yourself; I actually won’t. My focus is on your life as an entrepreneur. Something must have struck this idea initially. What is that? I need you to think to the initial time you birthed this idea. I am sure the large number of readers out there waiting on you are equally curious.

MR MIKE: Okay,

It all started February 2019. I went in search of a menial job to feed and to assist my parents because I come from a poor family (my dad is a driver and my mom is a petty trader and I have got 3 siblings). I was wearing suit. That very day, I left my house by 5:30am with five hundred naira (#500) and that was the only money I had in this world, so I managed N300 from where I live down to CMS. On getting to CMS I started trekking from CMS to silverbird, from silverbird to eko hotel, from eko hotel to lekki toll gate then from tollgate back to CMS by that time it was already 4pm and I was very hungry because I had not taken anything edible that day.
Meanwhile, I still had the remaining N200 change on me, so while I was seated at that CMS bus-stop thinking of how to go about my transport fare and feeding because I knew that N200 could not do anything. I was thinking of how to multiply that N200 and I just said to myself that I can just sell pure water and raise some money. I was putting on complete suit (mind you, I have never hawked before then) I just decided to give it a try,

because I needed to complete my transport fare and I needed to eat something because I was really hungry. So I was lucky to meet one of those people that sell pure water (sachet water commonly referred pure water) at CMS after persuading him; he gave me 1bag of water for N130 and rented his bucket for N10 to me.
Not minding that I was wearing suits, I just carried the water on my head and started shouting corporate water here! People started buying because I was wearing suits, the interesting part of it was that people that were also hawking water bought from me, and everybody was like, “I want to buy corporate water, I want to buy corporate water”, because they had never seen anything like that before. To cut the long story short, I sold more than 50bags of pure water from that 4pm-6pm and calculating my money that day I made about N3500. And since then I have been selling corporate water till date because I now see it as my business.

I: Wow! Just wow is the word I have. To say I am really enthralled is an understatement. I actually did pause. Now after the first day and the proceeds you made from the first day; why did you not stop?

MR MIKE: Because I was tired of looking for a job or probably working for someone.

An image of Mr. Mike’s bucket with his logo largely placed on it.

I: Mr. Mike; from your bio; you were born and raised in Lagos. Did you also school in Lagos?

MR MIKE: Yes sir, I attended my elementary and secondary School here in Lagos.

I: You must have had pals; I know the Igbos in Nigeria are usually known for their financial doggedness, focus and determination. Were you never shy of what your classmates or friends would say?

MR. MIKE: I don’t care about what people say not even friends.

I: Wow! (really surprised) this means you must have really thought about this, to have gotten to this point. Currently, cybercrime is on the rise and people (youths) are seriously delving into it. Did you never had anyone to actually teach you? was there no lure to cybercrime for you at the time of this hardship?

MIKE: The truth is right from time hate to cheat people, I prefer to play the mumu(fool) than to dupe people of their hard earned resource and I have always promised my mom never to disappoint her, because she always tell me that a good name is better than bad name.

I: I wish I could place you on a louder platform to speak to every single Nigerian youth. Even those who’ve never had access to the internet. Have you at any point whilst doing this business felt inferior or low self-esteem?

MIKE: The fact that I’m the only person selling corporate water in Nigeria makes me proud of myself for being unique.

I: (Applauds). You know you’ve been trending on social media. Initially when I saw you earlier this year. I honestly thought it was a joke. I had no idea that this was actually a business. Looking further while making my research; I discovered you were previously featured by THE PUNCH NEWSPAPERS on 26th May, earlier this year. What was your reaction to it?

MIKE: Punch newspapers was not the first to feature me, I had features on several blogs and vlogs even before I came across punch newspaper, I initially saw corporate water as just a mere means of survival and way to sort out some little bills not until I was featured on punch newspaper in March but was posted in May, that was when I took my business very serious then I had to brand the bucket and get an I.D. card.

A picture of Michael Iloduba at an event

I: Wow! you mean you even branded the bucket. This is awesome. At what point did you get the inspiration to get registered at corporate affairs commission (CAC)?

MIKE: When I was being featured on blogs and vlogs, so the idea of getting registered hit me, so I started saving till I was able to raise money to register my business name and trademark.

I: And I must say the name ‘CORPORATE WATER’ alone is a seller. Your water sales moved from hawking to producing your own table water and not just sachet water but plastic bottled water. How did you? In just few months time. What is your secret ingredient?

MIKE: No, don’t get it wrong. I’m yet to start producing my own water, hopefully by the grace of God, early 2020 I will kick off production, stay tuned!

I: Oh! My bad, you definitely have to. You were mentioned by EFCC sometime on 16th December, 2019; as the #YoungNLegit PICK OF THE WEEK. I saw the huge lashing you got on social media. You hardly responded; what did you think of them? How were you able to keep your cool?

MIKE: Firstly I felt EFCC was trying to pass message message but it wasn’t in a well written caption, that was what brought about the trolling and lashing. I think if only EFCC had posted the video of the interview we had, they wouldn’t have been more trolling and lashing out. Secondly, I felt it wasn’t necessary for me to reply any one, it’s called self control.

I: Brilliant👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼! If you do have the link to the interview you had with EFCC. You could also share so readers can view too.

MIKE: They asked me to not to post or share with no one that it’s for future purpose.

I: Oh! Okay then. I recently saw that you donated water to muslim praying centers for their Friday prayers. As a man from Igbo; I’m almost sure you’re a Christian. How come you never felt any restraint in giving even to those of another religion?

An image of him giving out water on the streets.

MIKE: Yes I’m a proud Christian, but I try as much as possible to impact on my community no matter how little it is. Irrespective of religion, ethnics or culture, and I also try as much as possible to feed at least 100 kids on the street once in a month, but Glory to God I have been able to do it twice this month.

I: Wow! How you managed to achieve this feat in so little a time, is really a wonder. In these trying times when suicide is an easy way out for the youths. Did you never contemplate about it?

MIKE: Trust me every day before I leave my house I always go down on my knees and talk to God in prayers and he has never failed me. God’s grace just keep me going, day in day out.

I: You’re a role model to a lot out there. I also believe in the power of small beginnings. Any piece of advice for the young entrepreneurs; who might be facing the time you faced at February!

MIKE: I will say, get something legit doing; no matter how little it may look, be consistent and above all, always commit your activities to God. Be you Muslim or Christian because God answers prayers.

I: Thank you so so much for your time. It was really awesome having you here.

MIKE: 🙏🏼.

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