In 2018, Kingsley Onyemali arrived in the United States from Nigeria in search of greener pastures. Now a mover by profession, he became homeless in Austin, Texas, while trying to save for housing for his family who were living 360 miles away from him.
Onyemali worked sometimes with Uber, Amazon, DoorDash and Grubhub as side hustles while working full-time at a Lexus dealership. He also ran a small garage-organizing company as a side gig.
These jobs helped him to accumulate enough money to afford an apartment in 2019 and then in 2020, a house. According to CNBC Make It, he made $108,592 on TaskRabbit as a mover and furniture assemblyman last year, and business has not stopped coming.
“During this inflation period, work doesn’t slow,” Onyemali, 40, told CNBC Make It. “I don’t feel anxious when I don’t have something to do, because I’ve been able to save for the rainy day.”
How did Onyemali transition from going homeless to making $108,592 a year?
Before migrating to Nigeria, he worked as a certified accountant with oversight responsibility for brand and image development for a Nigerian mayor. However, when he arrived in the U.S., he had to refashion himself as a mower.
“Grades and school made me feel like I never needed those [physical] skills — but coming here, the game was different,” Onyemali said. “I didn’t see myself working for someone or being in the corporate world. I wanted to have time with my family.”
A series of local gigs will see Onyemali land in Austin where he was able to save up to $2,300 to buy a used Nissan Ultima but he could not afford the monthly rent in Austin where a three months bedroom is around $4,649. He sometimes slept in hotels or crashed with friends. And there were days he slept in the car.
In 2018, he launched his own garage organizing company but business did not pick up as he anticipated so he added side gigs like driving Uber and working at Amazon, DoorDash and Grubhub delivery man. “Combined with his job at the Lexus dealership, those gigs earned him roughly $60,000 per year,” according to CNBC Make It.
He joined TaskRabbit in 2020 and made $37,000 on the platform in his first year. But as he picked skills on different TaskRabbit jobs, he was able to get more clients and charge steeper prices. By October 2020, he had left his other jobs.
Now he gets over 60 projects per month and his five-star reputation on the platform allows him to charge “premium prices” starting at $70 per hour.