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Move Back To Nigeria: Revamping The Lagos Taxi Scene! Bankole Cardoso Speaks on His Move, Project & Subsequent Plans

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Move Back to Nigeria is a series on BellaNaija which aims to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you a weekly interview with individuals who have successfully made the leap, considering the leap, as well as those who have tried it and realized it is not for them. MoveBacktoNigeria.com’s mission is to showcase stories of Nigerians abroad who have moved back home and are taking giant strides, often against all odds and to serve as inspiration to others. This, however does not preclude us from sharing stories of the people who have moved back and are facing various challenges.

Bankole Cardoso, Founder & CEO Easy Taxi Nigeria is featured this week. He takes us on his journey so far, his academic and professional background and his inspired road to entrepreneurship in Nigeria. Read on for more on his exciting story!

Thanks for speaking with us. Can you please tell us who you are and what you do?
My name is Bankole Cardoso, and I am the Founder and Chief Engagement Officer (CEO) of Easy Taxi Nigeria. I was born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria. I attended Corona, Ikoyi for primary school, and Grange Secondary School, before leaving to the UK for High School (GCSE & A-Level). Following this, I moved to the US for my University education, attending Boston College (BC) –to study Accounting and Business Management. After my graduation in 2010, I moved to New York to work as an associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), where I earned my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) credentials.

After PWC, I made the switch into Private Equity, joining the Global Market Strategies Group at The Carlyle Group – the biggest Private Equity firm in the world. I was at Carlyle for about 18 months and then I moved back home to Nigeria.

Did you always want to go into finance?
Yes, I always wanted to work in Finance. I have always had a flair for numbers and I enjoy reading financial news so I always had an interest in it. My father was also in finance so like most young sons I thought that was the best profession in the world!

At PWC, I was an associate in the financial services group, working mainly with huge Hedge Fund and Private Equity clients with $15-20 billion in assets under management. As I was in a client-services role, I constantly moved from one client to the next and also had to travel quite often. The hours were long, as I often had to work between 12-14 hours a day but you get so close to your team and colleagues that you make it fun. I was there for 2 years and looking back, it was a great place to launch my career.

After PWC I began to seriously think about moving back home but I had been interviewing with New York firms and the opportunity to work at the Carlyle Group came up, which I couldn’t turn down given the opportunity it presented. At Carlyle I gained amazing exposure by working directly with the CFO, analyzing our investment performance across our portfolio of companies and presenting summaries to other senior management on the investment and valuation committees. I also supported fundraising efforts for a $1 billion business development company that my group raised to invest in small and medium sized companies. It was a very technical and high-pressured job as I had a lot of responsibilities but it really enhanced my business acumen.
The experience was great, but then again after a year and a half on the job, I decided to move back and to make a career change from finance. I knew that if I didn’t make the move at that time, I was much less likely to ever do it. For me it was time.

What motivated your decision and the timing to move back?
I wanted to move back home to be involved in business and to make an impact, so I’ve always been on the lookout for opportunities. My job at the Carlyle Group was great, but I wanted to be in business, and wanted this to be in my home market (Nigeria). At the time, I also looked for opportunities in other emerging economies in Latin America, and elsewhere across Africa, calling different people in different industries, to research and ask a lot of questions. I wanted to know how they got to where they were, the steps they took to achieve their goals. I basically did in depth research, attended events and the more I spoke to people, the more I realised I only wanted to be in Nigeria.

The timing of my move back coincided with confirmation of an opportunity to move back home to set up a business. The opportunity to set up Easytaxi.com/ng led me to quit my job. There was risk in leaving a safe and rewarding career path but I had to take it. I knew I was moving back to start something that was not so straightforward. I had no idea what would happen but it was not too difficult to make the decision, I was moving back to launch my own start-up and that challenge is what motivates me.

So then you decided to take the risk and you moved?
Yes I decided to take the risk. Even my parents warned me about the challenges that come with moving back, but once I had made the decision, that was it. I felt young enough to risk failing rather than wonder what would have been had I not taken the plunge. In the end, I moved back at the end of July 2013, and have been home for about 7 months.

You knew you wanted to move back, what was driving this?
I used to come back regularly for Christmas and was excited to see and hear what people were doing. I kept up to date with what was happening on the ground (watching Channels TV online in the mornings), as sometimes I would get homesick. Also my family was back home so I wanted to be closer to them. Then let’s not forget the food, warm weather and the thirst people have for enjoyment! There are enough reasons to miss Nigeria.

How did you find the process of re adjusting to life in Nigeria?
In the beginning, it felt like an extended holiday. But after about a month or two, I began to realize that I was here to stay. The initial impact was not a shock. I was meeting people and learning the nuances of operating in the Nigerian market so things kind of fell into place. After about 4 – 5 months, I began to miss certain things about the lifestyle in the US, but by then I was fully settled in and getting on with business in Nigeria. It is strange; I have been so occupied with Easy Taxi since moving back that the time has flown by but I still get those moments where I am like wow, I really did make the move back to Nigeria.

What was your experience starting up and establishing a business in Nigeria?
The first thing to mention is during the hiring process, I realised just how talented many home grown candidates are. There is a misconception that studying abroad makes for better candidates but I was pleasantly surprised with the calibre of candidates the local market has to offer. To be fair, I met good people from both sides i.e. home and foreign trained. I realised Nigerians are very entrepreneurial, and get excited by ideas and innovation. I have met people running businesses selling goods and services via Blackberry Messenger and Whatsapp. Only Nigerians can come up with that! It is also interesting that almost everyone has a side hustle in Lagos.

On the negative side, I also met people whose CVs, looked amazing on paper, but were unable to hold a conversation in an interview. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. For example in New York, people tend to be more aggressive in their general mind-set and approach to work, but here we tend to downplay things a bit. For example I would ask candidates in interviews what they think about Easy Taxi and they respond ‘it is ok’ even when they mean ‘good’ – when I expect to hear words like ‘awesome’ and ‘amazing’. Once I started building my team, I got better accustomed to the idiosyncrasies.

In terms of the challenges – things can be inefficient here in Nigeria you just have to learn how to navigate around them. Let’s take Traffic… I have learned the best times to schedule my outings so I waste as little time in traffic as possible. Then there’s Customer Service – Historically, I think Lagosians have been used to unreliable taxi services, which is probably the fault of the drivers. At Easy Taxi I realized that at the end of the day no matter what we do with the app, our drivers deliver the service so it has been critical to make sure they understand what practices are acceptable and unacceptable for our customers. Technology has also been a challenge as we rely on our users being connected to data networks on their smart phones. To be fair data services are improving immensely.

Moving on, can you tell us what EasyTaxi is all about?
Easy Taxi is a Smart Phone application that lets users request taxis with one click. You can get it on Android, Samsung, Blackberry, iPhones, iPads, Windows phones, and it is free to download. When you request a taxi, you get the driver’s details, which are sent to you via the app. You can also track the driver on a map, so you know exactly where(s)he is at all times. The app uses GPS technology so it will show you the drivers closest to you. For instance, if you are in Victoria Island, the app will link you to a driver that is nearby and not ones that are further away in Ikeja or Mushin. Our drivers are also well trained and safe; we check their licenses and taxi park registration details. Furthermore, we have a relationship with every driver in our network and make sure they meet our rigorous selection criteria before we on board them to our platform.

Sounds very professional! So, how has the response to EasyTaxi been so far?
People that have used Easy Taxi have found us great! Our users just love the ease and convenience. I moved back at the end of July, and immediately started going to different taxi parks talking with drivers and doing market research. It quickly became apparent how much of a need there was for an on-demand taxi service in Lagos, as there are no radio taxis here.

And the taxi unions? How have they responded to this innovation?
They understand we are giving them customers, and we only charge them an average of N150 per fare, so they are burning less petrol and wasting less time, and so, they love the idea. At the moment, customers pay for the service with cash but from April, we will have the option to take card payments from customers. In terms of pricing, we are currently working to comprehensively map Lagos state in order to make the fares more accurate for our customers.

It seems things are working quite well, what then are your mid to long term plans?
We plan to expand to Abuja and Port Harcourt in the next 3 to 4 months. With the same model we have implemented in Lagos, we plan to make the business successful in other cities. It’s a lot of work, there have been ups and downs but people are catching on more now.

And funding? How did you go about raising start-up capital in Nigeria?
Easy Taxi is actually a global company, which was started in Brazil. They were looking to expand into other regions, and I got in touch with them, went through a selection process and they could see my passion to bring Easy Taxi to Nigeria. We raised funds from different investors including Rocket Internet who have a proven track record of building successful businesses in Nigeria.

On a different note, how are you finding living in Nigeria now?
I find it very exciting. In Lagos, there is always something going on, there’s always something new, an event, a family thing, a friend’s thing etc. As you know, family is very big in Nigeria, so that tends to help the social calendar, just given the volume of events one tends to be invited to. Yes, there are infrastructural challenges and more so you can’t just be on ‘auto pilot’ mode in Lagos like you can abroad. You have to adapt to what it throws at you. It is also the first time I have lived in Nigeria as an adult so I am exploring different parts of Lagos and finding new exciting things to do that I did not know existed.

And finally, what advice would you give people who are considering moving back?
Be open minded because you might be used to a certain lifestyle in London, New York (or wherever else) but as soon as you get to Nigeria, you have to adapt. Don’t complain and get frustrated easily. In Nigeria, we are fortunate to have strong family networks and if that’s the case for you, use those networks, so your transition goes as smoothly as possible.

If you are really considering moving back, then do your research. Like I mentioned, I spoke to many people about the options before making the move. Make sure you do not rush. The job market here is not that straight forward i.e. things would not just fall in your lap – you have to plan carefully. Having said all this, I would encourage anyone to move back. If you want to make an impact, then rather be doing it at home. It’s a good feeling contributing to one’s country.

Many thanks for your time and best wishes moving forward.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The  primary objective of MoveBackToNigeria.com is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes, financial & tax advice and much more. Move Back To Nigeria also features social interest topics such as what’s on, where to live, how-to survival tips and so on. Consistently engaging with and featuring Nigerian professionals in weekly  interviews, Move Back To Nigeria regularly publishes social interest articles relevant to the general public. Everyone is welcome to their online discussions & fora and you are invited to air your views & suggestions on the topical and trending matters section. For more information and further inquiries, please contact [email protected]

MBTN helps Nigerian and African professionals from across the world connect with career and Investment opportunities. We also organise networking events, conferences and workshops that give you the required tools to get ahead in your career in Africa or elsewhere.Find out more at www.mbtnglobal.com. Follow us on Twitter @mbtnglobal and Instagram @mbtnglobal

33 Comments

  1. Femi

    February 28, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Omg I have a similar idea in a. Different sector mhen after my msc I hope I gain experience and move my ass back to Nigeria

  2. Olulu

    February 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Hmm, well said and inspiring too.

  3. JK

    February 28, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Wow i love this guy. He’s so passionate about Nigeria. By the way, Easy Taxi in Abuja is highly
    Needed.

  4. Bisi

    February 28, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Well done..it is inspiring to read about emerging entrepreneurs making changes within the country. I recently resigned from work to pursue my e-commerce startup which was a side hustle but basis the consumer engagement and income we are generating, it was obvious it was time to concentrate on this fully and give it all I’ve got.
    To also navigate the muddy waters, I applied for the Cherie Blair Women in Business Mentoring Program and was lucky to be assigned to a Global Brand Director of a Fortune 500 company who has proven so useful in terms of networking and making changes to our organizational strategy. Basis her suggestions and inputs, we are now exporting to five African countries. I couldn’t be more happier. Yes there might be days when everything seems down but I’d rather do this than nothing else. Cos at the end of the day, I beat the ‘What if i had’ syndrome.
    All the best man!!!

  5. Nneks

    February 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Great Idea, Loved it!.. I wish you all the best and a successful future.

  6. Retta

    February 28, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Smart move by a smart man. He sounds like he’s very excited.
    Welcome home.

  7. Deyo

    February 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Hello, can we have a video version of moving back to Nigeria thanks.

    • ummm

      February 28, 2014 at 11:49 am

      You can’t read or you want to hear assortment of accents?

      I kid.

      🙂

  8. Nosey

    February 28, 2014 at 11:41 am

    i love the concept of safe and reliable taxis. I love his determination to see this work and his obvious love for his country. No blah blah BS about this or that connection, just someone who wants to make life easier for the average Nigerian and has gone about pursuing it the best way he can. More of this kinda guy pls! He is quite easy on the eye too!

  9. 1 + The One

    February 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Great interview.. And I can certainly understand the fabulous CV/disappointing real life interview scenarios!
    I pray for success for you!

  10. @edDREAMZ

    February 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Nice piece, i like it, is gud too see some few people who like one or two things of their country and encouraging fellow nigerians abroad to come and contribute to the development of such idea….
    .
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  11. Queen Esther

    February 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Encouraging piece. Im also thinking of moving back home to start up something in the beauty industry. No place like home I guess

  12. jcsgrl

    February 28, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    eeya more grease to your efforts o! You make us proud to be Nigerians

  13. charles

    February 28, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    When eko atlantic city and abuja’s biomimicry city has been completed….this guy would be big….

  14. Felinda1

    February 28, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    IF NOBODY WANTS TO ASK, ME I WILL ASK SHA

    IS HE SINGLE?

    • memebaby

      February 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      lol gurlllll..il have to buy you coke (orobo size) soon. I kid i kid 😀

    • Shade

      February 28, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      lol have to admit, I was thinking the same thing!

    • Berry

      February 28, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      LOL I knew someone was going to go there…

    • Anon

      March 1, 2014 at 5:44 am

      Was it not his sister that married one of the Alakija sons or is there more than 1 Cardoso family in Lagos. Hmm the family is big o!!! BN will soon start asking them for their relationship status during the interview. lol.

  15. Shade

    February 28, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    BellaNaija,

    I am a Nigerian American who was born in the US but lived in Nigeria for about 6 years as a child ( I have been back twice since I left). I found your website about 3 years ago (came for the wedding section) and I must say in the past 2 months, going on BN.com has been a DAILY stable. I love reading the articles and love seeing that my brothers and sisters at home are making big moves. I am currently a working professional and graduate student and once I finish my degree I am on the first flight back home. Please keep up the great work, you inspire and encourage me and thanks to all of you I have a new found love for Nigeria : ).

    • ccc

      March 4, 2014 at 12:06 am

      Hon, the realities ‘on the ground’ are very different from what you see on websites. Please do your research and reconnaissance well before you make any drastic moves.

  16. Dr. N

    February 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Great interview. I am learning to use words like “awesome”, “great”, and “wonderful”, rather than “okay”. We are rather demure, methinks. I will try your app. Thumbs up.

    drnsmusings.wordpress.com

  17. Dooshima

    March 1, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Hi! I just downloaded the app…but I can’t get it to change my location to Lagos..I seem to be in a European version of Easy Taxi….?..

  18. Lanre Adeniji.jones

    March 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    So many single ladies here on BN.Someone shud create an app for them,it’s realli gonna be big too.I swear!!!!!

  19. ngluv

    March 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    cool guy, got his head up.. is he single? lol

  20. Nana

    March 3, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Great article. However, even though since Nigeria is mostly conservative and Nigerians tend to down play things, it seems applicants were telling him what they really thought, but he as the boss already had a “template” of what he wanted to hear, so why bother asking? I live in the US and New Yorkers are known for being ridiculously fake. They are great “actors” who have perfected the art of telling people what they want to hear to get where they want to go… So, if he wants to hear, “OMG! It’s just freaking awesome!!!” then he should ask New Yorkers and not Nigerians…

    • zz

      March 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      Bump!

  21. TT

    March 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Sheesh!!! He’s just 25! … I cover my face in shame! Agbaya indeed.

  22. Benjamin Button

    March 5, 2014 at 3:40 am

    I have a question? Did he not have to do nysc? Or am I missing something?…

  23. hauwa

    March 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Let the buyer of this ‘spiel’ beware… Good to move to naija, but be sure you are standing on VERY STRONG LEGS! This boy is pedigree oo. Corona, Grange.. His family is steeped in dough, he is not your average joe. Know his parents.. I am beginning to think it is very hard for the REAL average joe to make it these days. Everyone is going on about ‘African Lupita’ like she’s your regaular ‘joanne’ (or should i say ‘Bilikisu’) but forget that her dad is ex-minister and can afford to send her to Yale, and she has coz on Forbes’ list. I tire o… I am homesick, wish to move home but scratching beneath the surface of all the spiel reminds me why I left. At least I am treated here based on my merit and not my pedigree. Anyways, I live in hope…..

  24. eazie

    April 12, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Inspiring!

  25. newbie

    April 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I like!

  26. Daniela

    August 3, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Wow this is really Inspiring

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