Even against the backdrop of youth restiveness in Nigeria occasioned by rising unemployment, 47-year-old Sani Abdullahi Magawata has found a silver lining to make legitimate earnings.
Welcome to Sani’s thriving tea business located on Anka Road by the Muslim Foundation, Gusau, Zamfara State.
Popularly known as the University of Tea, the place has become a hub for dozens of tea lovers, especially bachelors, who patronise it in the mornings and evenings.
Magawata and his co-workers arrive as early as 6am daily to arrange and prepare for their customers.
With 25 staff who assist him in managing the business which is growing by the day, the young and energetic Magawata is certainly making a fortune from his tea business.
Speaking about his experience, Magawata said he started selling tea 27 years ago with a small table and capital of N1,800.
He explained that, “But now, I can boast of more than N1m capital besides other things I have achieved with the business.
“When we started this business, all those in the business of selling tea were just using the old-fashioned way of serving just tea and bread. It was later that eggs and noodles were introduced.
“But as you can see, we now also have Irish potatoes, plantain, liver, yam and any other edible that will attract customers.”
“We have the normal tea and bread that we are used to, which is very popular among customers.
“With the passage of time, we started modernising and bringing in innovations into the business by improving the tea with many other recipes.
“We have the type that has medicinal value, energy boosting and the rest. You know tea is always known with hot water, but here we have the one made with cold water; that’s ice tea, lemongrass, lemon and many others.
“Our tea here has no boundary as people send staff to buy for them from their offices, homes and business places.”
Magawata noted that while the business kept booming, 200 to 500 loaves of bread and 15 to 25 crates of eggs were sold and consumed daily.
Magawata said home delivery was another aspect of the business due to high demand from across the city.
Speaking further on the progress and successes of the business, he told our reporter how they empowered their apprentices after graduation.
He said, “We have opened shops for some of our over 50 of our apprentices who have graduated. We have about 25 shops spread across Gusau; all under the university. They give us monthly returns and we oversee their activities.
“It is not a conventional university, but the system is similar. We also give certificates. Those who have graduated from here are not limited to Zamfara State. There are many from other states in the Northern part of the country.”
Magawata further said that the business had done everything for him as he had undertaken major projects courtesy of the University of Tea.
He said, “This business has done everything for me. Whatever a business will do for someone, it has done for me. I am self-reliant in all ramifications.
“I got married in it, I remarried, I have a family that is feeding from it, as well as catering for their education and everything.
“I have taken myself and my mother to perform Hajj in Saudi Arabia. I built a befitting house that one will wonder how I did it. I have a car that can take me everywhere. Others are also benefiting from it as the business continues.”
However, he noted that the resurgence of insecurity, coupled with the inflation in town, was impacting negatively on the business.
He said, “What you buy today is not the same tomorrow. We no longer give tea of N100, talk less of N30 or N50. The prices of flour and sugar are high in the market.
We are always satisfied – Customers
Some of the regular customers of the “university” pointed out that due to their constant craving for the services of the tea university, its premises had become their second home.
Daily Trust Saturday learned that there is also a self-appointed association of tea buyers who are always there to quench their thirst.
Muhammadu Aliyu, popularly known as Ya Muhammad, who is the chairman of resident customers, said, “We don’t have anything to say with regards to this except prayers.
“We are proud of this place. From Abuja, Kaduna and Sokoto; we all have customers who send people just to come and get this tea in flasks.
“At least I have spent 17 years drinking tea here. The way we are used to living here, even in our houses we don’t live like we do here. After our workplaces, we come here to relax with tea.”
Another customer, Tukur Rabiu Abdullahi, said, “I can remember when we started this place. We are fully satisfied as we are constantly craving for it. As you can see, this is where we always sit and chat while sipping tea after working hours.”