The rate of unemployment ravaging the country has not only become worrisome, but the situation has pushed many a Nigerian youth into petty businesses including manual car washing. These sets of youths engage in car wash job to keep body and soul together. They have refused to be the proverbial “Devil’s workshop.” MIDAT JOSEPH and ISAIAH BENJAMIN take a look at how lucrative the business is.
The saying that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, it seems, is being turned on its head as many youths particularly across the various states of the federation have resorted to engaging themselves in whatever jobs, no matter how menial, in order to avoid going into crime and criminalities.
Although many youths unfortunately chose to allow their minds to be occupied by the devil to wreak havoc in the society, some within the Kaduna metropolis have decided otherwise.
This is because, the necessity of getting cars washed early in the morning before work is really challenging in Kaduna. It is on this note that car wash companies are now thriving in the heart of the state.
Statistics from the International Car Washing Association indicates that the car wash industry is a money spinner with 90,000 car washing companies in the United States of America providing a source of livelihood for millions of people with a turnover of about $24 billion (N3.72 trillion).
In Nigeria, car washing businesses are springing up in nooks and crannies of major cities across the country with most of them being operated by young people.
Experts say that since many people in the cities own vehicles, they are usually concerned about how to keeping these vehicles clean. They stress that car washing business will continue to be a money-spinning venture for discerning entrepreneurs but however, note that every car washing business has its advantages and challenges in terms of capital investment and profit potentials.
According to the entrepreneur.com, car washing business is a service that is always in demand and most vehicle owners are certainly willing to pay anyone that helps them to keep their vehicles in clean condition.
This group of young youths come together irrespective of their religious and ethnic differences and not minding their various qualifications, to meaningfully engage themselves through the formation of an association known as Car Washers Association, Kaduna with their headquarters on Muhammadu Buhari Way, former Waff Road, Kaduna.
In view of the high quality car washing service offered by these youths, most of their customers say they are always ever- willing to visit them again and again. Other youths in and around the state capital have also taken a cue from them, opening up car washing points in their localities.
When LEADERSHIP SUNDAY visited their headquarters, it was discovered that quite a number of them are holders of educational qualifications which range from secondary school certificate,National Diplomas to first degrees, and these literate car washing experts are having to do what they are doing now for various reasons.
According to the acting chairman of the association, Danjuma Shuaibu: “We decided to come together and form this association so that we can help ourselves because of the joblessness in the country. Some of us here are graduates of different levels but because we could not get any ready job and because we don’t want to be used as political thugs or to involve ourselves in any social vices in the society, we decided to do this as a way of helping ourselves.
“We thank God that the business is going on well, although at times we suffer low patronage but on the average, no problem. Some days we washing up to 50 cars during peak periods and on other days of lean business, the number may be less. Also depending on the category of washing required, the amount we charge ranges from N500 - N6,000.
“If we have to wash the car inside-out, we normally charge between N1,000 and N1,500, and where we have to wash both the rug flooring of the car and the engine which we call complete washing, we charge up to N6,000. But at times it is negotiable depending on the patronage of the day”.
He, however, lamented: “Some of us here are graduates but because we could not be gainfully employed, we try to help ourselves with this job but it is not easy, our hands and body are always in contact with water, even under the sun.
“We are appealing to the government to help provide job opportunities for those of us who have educational qualifications at the least, so that we can be more useful to ourselves, family and country at large”.
Usman Bashir told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY he joined the business to earn a living temporarily before going into proper consultancy business; ‘but so far so good’, the business is good if not for little challenges here and there.
According to him, the location of the business determines its success. In a situation where the location is hidden, the level of patronage would be low. Another major ‘ingredient’ for the business to thrive is the availability of water.
The price charged for the services is based on the type of car they wash. For example, a salon car attracts N500 if it is washed in and out. Washing of the engine attracts an extra N500 and cleaning the boot and other specific cleaning attracts additional N500, depending on what the customer wants. But for bigger vehicles like Jeep, SUVs, he said, they charge N1,000 for body wash only, while other services aside washing the body attract additional N500 each.
“I am trying to see whether I can get an establishment or a recognised place where I will not be disturbed by task force. It’s a lucrative business if you are in a good location. One of such flourishing areas is the fuel stations. You can imagine a place they use to lend out for N150,000 to N200,000 has now gone up to as much as N800,000 and above, then tell me how much do we now charge to be able to meet up with the payment?” He asked.
He added that, although his business has not grown into the mobile (semi-mechanised) car washing level, he hopes to get there someday. For now, he has to make do with what he has. According to him, “it requires huge capital to venture into mobile carwashing because of the equipment needed for it”.
Another member, Amos Musa told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY he holds a Diploma in Cooperative Economics and Management from Kaduna Poly, but had to take to car washing to be able to raise money to further his education.
On his part, James Gabriel said, he ventured into politics and contested the councillorship seat of Ungwar Shanu/Abakpa ward in 2010, but was not successful because he hadn’t money to pull through.
A customer, Mallam Abdulrahaman, whose car was being washed had this to say: “I normally patronise the boys here as a way of encouraging them, at least what they are doing is legitimate means of fending for themselves rather than allowing themselves to be used as thugs and nuisance to the society”.