Few months ago, I wrote about a really brilliant young man, Engr Seun. He had done wonders in the magical Computer Village Lagos.
He has no degree. He has a 3-month diploma from UNILAG and a 6-month diploma from NIIT Lagos. But he is brilliant. In short, I could not believe what I saw. It took him 3-4 minutes to dissemble a laptop. He has 15 years of experience in his art.
My local team has kept up with him. We gave him support to build a real business in his art. He is peerless and exceedingly talented. In this trip, despite all the tight schedules, I had made time to visit him. He is making progress. Now, he has five engineers. Yes, the real engineers (forget Nigerian Society of Engineers). All the five have ONDs. And he added also an OND accountant. Also, the company has been incorporated. I did not ask for any equity. I did not make a loan either. I wanted him to just do well. Hopefully, he would afford to return the money one day. That way, I can send it to another person.
Besides the support, I also offered some business lessons. For 7 of them, I did a one hour cost modeling/strategy training. I explained pricing and why they must commit customers to a minimum fee irrespective of the outcome of the repair. And every repair must be phased in categories. In other words, if you bring your laptop or phone to be fixed, you must commit to pay N2k irrespective of the outcome. Then engineers would start work and based on the outcome, you would be charged more.
Also, if an engineer is working and cannot get the job done in 2 hours, the work should be moved to a new category with new pricing structure. This model is necessary in case they need to expand where Engr Seun cannot be physically present. The pricing model is what would make this a startup, over a one-man business. While local teams (say in Abuja and PHC) could fix things, there could be some challenging works that must be sent to Lagos. Those could be 2-week jobs which must attract different pricing.
To offer the lesson, I visited a local mechanic job in U.S. to learn how to price this type of labor.
That reminds me of Aba, Oshogbo, Kano, etc where geniuses are left poor because no one can prepare them to price what they do more effectively. In a Harvard Business Review, I had explained that Microsoft invented the PC industry through its elegant pricing which made it possible that you NEVER own its software product even though you have bought it especially for enterprise customers. Yes, if you do not pay annual license, you are essentially a criminal. Imagine if Ford, GM and Mercedes Benz had used the same pricing model on cars. Simply, governments should do better in the informal sector by helping the participants to understand cost and pricing better.