How did the summer weather condition affect small firms?

posted in: SFD Blogs - Ethiopia | 0

The past summer months (of 2021) in Addis Ababa were uncharacteristically cold and even wetter than usual. These extreme weather conditions directly or indirectly affected the Small Firm Diaries respondents’ business activities. Those who need sunshine in their production process, to dry goods, like carpenters, laundry businesses (to dry clothes) and cement block producers are highly affected by the weather condition.  In this article, we will share respondents’ stories on the effect of the weather conditions these past summer months.

ET529 owns a laundry business at Kotebe. she mainly dries the clothes in the sun. However, in summer season she usually uses a drying machine to dry clothes.  Unfortunately, this summer her drying machine crashed and she couldn’t fix it. As a solution she applied for a loan to buy a new drying machine. But she was not able to get the loan. As a coping mechanism she only accepted      few orders and dried the clothes inside her house. Since the study started, her daily average income was 734.3 birr and she saved 1500 per week via equb[1].However, since July 19, 2021 she only earned about one-fifth (128.18 birr) on average per day and she has stopped her weekly contribution to equb. This indicates a significant income loss. She said, “I know there are ups and down in any business but this summer was an extremely bad season for my business. I hope my business will be ok soon.  But, the question of how I could get back my former customers is my headache”. ET936 also owns a laundry business nearby ET529. Unlike ET529, ET936 was lucky to get a loan from Addis microfinance to buy an additional drying machine. As a result, the recent weather conditions had a very small effect on her daily income. 

Carpenters were also affected by the exceptionally rainy weather condition.  Almost all carpenters use the sun as their main source of energy to dry their furniture after they paint it. Per ET532, ET677, ET737, ET371 and ET179 explanation, in other seasons it takes two to three hours to dry a wood furniture’s paint.  However, during the summer season it might take one to two weeks to dry it.  This increases the duration of time it takes to finish customers’ order and consequently the time to receive final payment. This reduces the firms’ profitability. In addition, the paint does not shine as much as the other seasons. ET179, ET677 and ET371 said, in July, their revenue was reduced by half due to the weather. Unlike other firms, ET532 used electric energy to dry paints in the summer season. However, he said that the paint dried by electric dryer doesn’t shine as much as sundried paint and it doesn’t dry quickly compared to the sunlight. Moreover, using electric energy increases the firm’s electricity cost.

ET863 produces cement blocks. Per his explanation, producers usually use sunlight to dry cement blocks. But in the summer season it takes longer to dry cement blocks. This in turn reduced the quantity of block production and their revenue.


[1] Equb is a ROSCA style savings group, widely used in Ethiopia including by small and larger businesses. When someone stops their contributions, this can have significant repercussions.