I have been looking around for the story about Glory and Muyiwa Osei.
I eventually read a few of the threads on Twitter and it’s more than sad what Nigerian creatives subject themselves to. A number of employees have come forward to accuse the Osei couple of inhumane working conditions, workplace abuse and a lot of other terrible misdemeanours.
There was a period when I was writing for businesses. I had to tell myself that it’s better to go hungry, focus on my blog and websites, get some few sales on Fiverr than subject myself to inhumane working conditions.
Till today, there’s still a client who stole N100,000 from me and a group of writers. This money was supposed to be split across a team of four or five people for work that took us over a month. Yet, this client didn’t pay a dime.
Today, I don’t work until there is money in my account. It’s not because I distrust people. Wait, it’s because of that! Nigerian employers and business owners have proven times again that we have no reason to trust that system. Everyone is trying to rip you off, belittle your work, dehumanize you in order to for them to make a stupendous profit.
They talk big, they look big, they tell you how much business they can bring you, and all the connections they have. Yet, you are nothing but a tool to them. That your faithlessness in your own abilities is what makes you think you need a big name to elevate your work.
You as a creative person need to learn to grow up. Build yourself and don’t fear hunger. Decisions you make out of hunger will come back to bite you. Be prudent with resources. I shared a website post yesterday on how I market myself and my business using social media. It’s not a million bucks but I would not take a useless job offer out of hunger.
Who else has noticed that the biggest scandals that hit recently are always from the creative industry?
Writers, coders, graphic designers, editors etc.
If you asked the average employer in Nigeria l, they’d say intangible things like that are not easy to invest in.
They probably compare you with the pity pay they give to plumbers, water fetchers, and messengers.
They pay those poor labourers on sites pittance and they still come to you, a University graduate and offer you the same pittance. So on what scale do we actually measure what payment to give people for their time and skill?
If it was by muscle and sweat, one would expect all the bricklayers in Nigeria to be millionaires. The reality is, most employers go for the “if I can get it free, why pay for it?” scale.
It’s why they negotiate with statements like “someone has offered to do this for free oo.”
We must understand that the unequal distribution of wealth is one of the reasons our economy is not working right.
If an employer uses their tight fist and gimmicks properly, they would be raking in millions, while their staff will be entering and exiting the job market every day.
The poverty gap will continue to grow and cheap labour will continue to be the culture of our economy.
Now how does this affect you as a business person?
The same people you are cheating are the ones buying your products when they are out of job, or rather not buying it.
How do you want Nigerians who work terrible hours, shitty pay and sleepless nights, to afford the prices you have on your products and services?
So instead of selling to a million people, you are selling to a few hundreds who are in the same economic class with you. Your market is in VI and Banana Island.
It’s also the reason why most people don’t even know these brands.
A lot of those brand mentioned in the twitter threads are largely unknown to people because they are catering to the needs of an elite class that cannot relate with the kind of people they employ.
You are selling a N10,000 product and you cannot make your copywriter and ads manager comfortable to do their job.
You make life a living hell for them because you hate bank debits on salary day. But these people are not your slaves, neither are you doing them a favour by paying.
The worst part of this work culture is the requirements these jobs come with. You’ll be paying someone 20,000 naira a month, yet you want them to be your sales rep, marketing consultant, graphics designer and social media manager.
Business owners need to learn to stay within their capacity. It’s not necessary to open an office if you cannot afford the cost of employing humans. All in the name of “I built a company from scratch” and motivational speeches, you start ventures that are just a little above human trafficking.
Outsourcing is an option. If you are not ready to make regular payments to dedicated staff, outsource. Stop trying to be the Silicon Valley of Africa when you are not yet up to a Molehill in Idumota.
We need humane businesses more than we need billionaires. In the end, you are the ones creating this poverty that the world accuses Nigeria of so regularly.
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