By Biodun Busari
Canada-based Nigeria millionaire, Prince Tajudeen Gboleru, has disclosed that he sold ice cream in the United States of America to survive in his early search of greener pastures.
Gboleru, a prince from Ikirun town, Osun state, who left Nigeria in the mid-1985 said he was doing three menial jobs and still going to school in America to have a better future.
He revealed this in an exclusive interview with The Natio, sharing his grass to grace account on Friday.
He is the Chairman and CEO of the Mortgage Centre, Canada; Choice Financial Inc. and Georgia One Financial Mortgage, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Peter Obi’s supporters’ petitions to ban dissenting voices faulted
The founder of SDA Gboleru Nigeria Ltd, said: “I left the country in 1985. I had to leave to find greener pastures and have a better life.
“My parents were traders. We had little opportunities to make it in life. We had to struggle all the way to get a better life. That was my main reason for travelling out of Nigeria.”
said leaving Nigeria was not convenient as he met some disappointments and had a rough start when he got to the US.
He continued: “Getting out of Nigeria wasn’t easy either. As a matter of fact, when I first got abroad, there wasn’t any place for me to stay.
“The person I wanted to go and meet gave me an address, on getting there, I knocked many times but there was no answer. I was outside for four hours and it was very cold.
“I was so confident that I would see the person I came to meet because three days before my arrival, I had called the person. Unfortunately for me, all the apartments in the house were empty.
“His neighbours who were coming into the house around 3am were drunk. As they tried to climb the staircase, they saw me and were scared. They just ran away.
“Later, they returned. That was when they eventually summoned enough courage to ask me questions. I introduced myself and told them that I came from Nigeria.
“They said who are you looking for? I said I was looking for Bernard. They told me that they had just moved into the apartment and there was nobody living in the apartment.
“But they were happy to see someone from Africa and they told me to come and stay with them.
“The first thing that attracted my attention was the leftover bread that they kept on their table. They gave me hot tea, and I quickly ate the bread. At that point in time, I was seriously hungry.
“The second day, they asked me what I wanted to do. I said I did not know but I knew I had some people in Atlanta and I would call those ones, which I eventually did.
“They took me to the airport and bought a first-class ticket for me at their own expense.
“To cut the long story short, the person that bought the ticket for me had to go through divorce. We’re still communicating. He called me one day and said that he wanted to move to Atlanta because real estate was booming there. Lo and behold, when he came, he taught me real estate business which I’m still doing up till today.
“When he came, I accommodated him. The man is a multi- millionaire today.”
In his chronicle of surviving in the US, Gboleru said: “Staying in the United States wasn’t easy at the beginning. It was not easy as I was going to school and at the same time working.
Ice cream money
“I was doing three different jobs. Former Governor of Osun State, Isiaka Adeleke, had a convenience store at Campbellton Road, Atlanta, Georgia where I was. He was selling biscuits and other things.
“I would go and collect ice cream, deposit some in his store. Other Nigerians taught me how to sell ice cream. Fortunately, the majority of them are doing very well now.
“If you want to go to school, you need to survive. To shock you, this time I’m talking about, we had no papers but we needed to work in order to survive. The jobs we were doing then were menial. I was doing three jobs every day.
“The first job I did was to wash the floor at Walmart Store. I would do this from 12 midnight till 6am.
“Sometimes, if I was fast, I would finish washing the floor by 4am and would just get into my vehicle and sleep for two hours. After resting for two hours, I would go to Burger King to flip hamburgers.
“I would do that till 12noon. After that, I would return to the parking lot, enter my vehicle and sleep till 2am.
“Let me tell you a story about my vehicle. I needed the vehicle to go to school, I needed the vehicle to go to work, I also needed the vehicle to sell ice cream. I had to buy a used post office van. It was cheap.
“The one that was in good condition was being sold for 300 dollars, and if you use it to sell ice cream, you can make a profit of more than the amount you used in buying that vehicle in a day.
“I felt that instead of buying a luxury car, let me buy this vehicle because I would use it to sell ice cream. Selling ice cream could be rough. Except you do drugs, that is when you can make the kind of money we were making selling ice cream.
“In a box of ice cream, we have about 60. You may not get it for more than five dollars but when you are selling each, you sell for one dollar. And if you get to a neighbourhood where you have a lot of children, by the time you sum up what you sold, you could be getting up to 600 dollars. At times I would make 700 dollars.
“After I had finished selling the ice cream, I would go for lectures. My face would be red due to lack of good sleep. I would also have a serious headache due to lack of sleep. But because we knew what we were pursuing, we could not give up.
“Whatever you are doing that you are making money from, you would be happy to do it. This ice cream hustling would only last for six months or less than six months in a year.
“By the time the weather was getting cold, the ice cream business would become very dull, that was the period I would have the opportunity to sleep.
“The first day I entered my first apartment, I slept soundly. Before then, I had no apartment of my own. I was sleeping inside my vehicle. If I had to sleep in a house, I would just call a friend who was not going to work to have a short rest in his house.”