Intake Experience: SFD Nigeria

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Some of the experiences that I got from the field I wasn’t surprised about. Some respondents were good enough to tell me because they understand, or they have true knowledge of what research is and understand that some research generally comes out to good policy that will support business and, in some way, be able to comply. During the census, I have already informed some of them that this was just a census so they may be selected. If they are selected, I will be back for the intake interview. So, when some of them saw me, they already knew as they were informed that if their business is selected, I will be coming around for a second stage of interview with them. So, when they saw me, they gave me attention. Then some businesses consented to participate at the census stage when you go to the intake interview, those that had appointments with you; some businesses about 4 appointments, when I got there, they told me to come back again as they are still busy. 

Business that are co-owned by a male and a female, that are couple; it is primarily managed by the female or the wife. But because the husband is not around, there is no one to sign the consent and seek the approval of the husband. In so many cases such businesses do not want to participate because the husbands do not give consent that they should participate. So, their consent to participate was tied down to their spouse decision. Several who were initially accepted during the census to be part of the project gave me that information, and some that I went to and my supervisor was there with me; the woman said she is not convinced about what we are “bringing in” and wants to engage me with her lawyer first. The decision the lawyer brings then she will know whether she wants to be part of it or not. We gave her the consent form, required details, and organization link to go through and later decide. I have not received feedback yet. 

The other experience is, there were others who were interested to be part of the project, but they look at the duration of the project to be one year and it is not a monthly interview but rather a weekly. The repetition of information, according to them, they cannot give time because they are businesspeople, and their time is very precious. So even though they have an interest to be part of it, they didn’t sign the consent form because they won’t be able to give us maximum attention for an every week interview. 

During the intake, some suggested there should be a seminar to help them understand their business and how best they can grow. 

Some who were not fit to be part of the intake confronted me when conducting an interview. Disclosing account information, so many were not comfortable with it. 


I had respondents that had a lot of questions. Had their fear and uncertainty and some of them complained about the duration of the project, as one year is a long time. A lot of uncertainty, and things can change, and may not have the time and be available. They may change location, may be inconsistent during the one-year period. Regarding the interval between the interview, they complained about the frequency as once a week is too frequent. They preferred it to be once in a month as against weekly, or once in two weeks (biweekly). Especially for people that work in Carpentry or Aluminum work who sometimes need to go for an outside job, raise it as part of their concern and complain.

A business owned by a woman, she told me that she needs to speak and discuss with her husband to be sure before signing the consent form or even going through the intake interview. Even in times, I explain what they will get out of the research, the benefit, and how to manage their finances better, how to expand their business better. Often, they would like to know the direct and immediate benefit from the research. 

They will out rightly ask how much we will pay them for their time for going in a weekly interview. Many hope to get financial benefit out of this project, as it is a motivation for them to go for one year. 

The respondents as regards to the consent forms, several of them are open to it. Those that were part of the research before knew that there is always a consent form, by this knowledge some even ask before we mention it to them. They often become more relaxed and open to decide whether they want to participate in the one-year program when they take their time to go through the diaries consent form.

I did not have the opportunity to show them Tim’s short video because some of them did not understand English, and others were in a hurry and did not have the time. 


Some of the respondents were willing to sign, but asked time to read through. They wanted to understand it fully. So, I had to go back to collect the consent form. Some were too busy at the time when the intake interview was done. They did not have a problem after going through the consent forms. Some did not eventually get to sign the form because they were not available, and they did not have the time to read through. 

Regarding the short video, since these were business owners, when they give you time to ask questions, they don’t want the extra time seeing video (except few). They complain about taking or wasting their time. They say time is money.  

Comparing the census with the intake, the intake gave us more time to explain details of the project to our respondents. During the intake, most times we did not see the business owners and we got to meet their employees. But for the intake, we needed to speak to the business owners because asking them questions directly the employees were not able to give us the information. Hence, this gave us time to directly speak with the business owners.


Going to an association can be stressful. Most assumed they would get loan and money and members were discouraged and did not want to participate. Reporting this to my supervisor, we went together to a new association by explaining to them what the program is all about and most gave us their consent. The challenge I had was few were unwilling and were not comfortable to share their financial information. 

Recruitment scripts and video were not used because respondents were busy with work and at times had customers with them. 


The intake went well. Some of my respondents were eager to participate and they signed the consent form. 

They watched the video even though they signed the form to be more convinced. Others were not interested in signing the form. 

I did not use the recruitment call script because most were busy speaking over the phone, so I made the visit to their workplace physically. The intake stage really gave the respondents the opportunity for them to ask questions and take time to inquire further. 


The challenge I experienced was the business owners fear that the project will expose them to taxation when they disclose their finance. Further, they want to know what they will be given and understand their gain. After receiving the consent form, respondents had clarity and further understood the idea behind the survey and study.


I had respondents that were willing to participate and had prior knowledge about research and what to expect. However, they were not fully convinced of releasing confidential and financial information. I also had respondents who were not convinced about the time frame of the interview. Especially, light-manufacturing is especially required to go out for an outside job, hence they would not be able to manage their timetable to get a fixed date to have a weekly diary interview. 

Others wanted to know their gain and their benefit immediately. Some were not committed enough as they kept on rescheduling. I did not use the script and video, as most of them do not speak English and I had to translate to their local dialect. Often, they did not have the time. 

Overall, it was an interesting process. 


Comparing the intake and census stage, the intake was busier for me. Major issues and concerns were disclosing their financial transactions. They were not open and willing to disclose their financial details. While others believed that it would help them to know much about the progress of their business and to know their business better.  

I didn’t use the video because they didn’t speak English. 


Because of the census, most of the respondents were familiar with me. When I called them to book an appointment it was easy for them to agree to meet for the intake.  I could say all went well and did not have issue booking appointments. Except those during the census I met their employees, and when I met the owners for the in-take they were uncomfortable. Since they didn’t know me and details about the project, I was required to spend more time explaining the project. 

Others bluntly refused they were not interested in which I made a follow up to convince them. Few signed after initial refusal and others didn’t give their consent. 

I had one experience where the respondent was harsh. He said he has participated in several research prior. He mentioned that he is used to researchers using their information to collect loans and they never heard back from the study. So he ushered me out of the shop. 

I met one who refused to sign his consent form. He asked me to meet him somewhere to collect the consent form, which with the security issue in Kaduna I couldn’t meet him as I didn’t want to expose myself to danger. 

Another experience was a respondent who refused to initially sign the form. He asked me for my number, casually calling to arrange and meet to explain about the project. 

Most of the respondents were skeptical and felt the whole research will later require payment. Others assumed that the project would give them a loan. So, I had to spend time explaining the purpose and objective of the research, and the benefit of the study for them. 

I didn’t need to show them the video because they understood what the project is all about.

It was an interesting experience for me. 


The intake period was less stressful compared to the census. 

Those who were from my snowballing areas, the majority of them, were willing to participate in the one-year research. They didn’t have issues with coming to meet them on a weekly basis to collect information from them. They also didn’t have issues disclosing some confidential information about their businesses. 

I have met two other respondents too in my snowballing area. They would love to participate in the study because they want to know a better overview and the best way to run their business at the end of the year. Common to all, they were uncomfortable sharing confidential information about their finances, and especially because of the security issue they do not want to disclose their status. 

I had 3 refusals to sign a consent form because they said they will not be part of the one-year duration of the study. 

For the schools chosen for intake, I find it difficult to reach out to the school owners because it was a holiday period for them. Had a chance to meet a few because they were flexible to meet, others had declined. 

I didn’t use the video.

I had one respondent that requested to read the consent form to her. After reading through and explaining it, she refused to sign and be part of the study. 

It was indeed a good experience for me. 


During the census it was that easy, the respondents were happy and assumed that we would be giving them money, in which I explained the process of the project. The only challenge I had in doing my task was my area and road, as they were very difficult. 

I didn’t have any issue in receiving the signed consent form as my respondents had agreed and expected to participate in the study. We were able to interact with the same language so the relationship was good. Those that have refused, even though I tried to explain they declined because they don’t want to share any information about their money. 

I didn’t use the video because I needed to translate what was said into the language they speak. So, I only used the consent form to explain about the study.


I had some people complaining about the weekly interview that will be held for those that will be selected for the one-year research process. Most of them said they might not be around for weeks and asked how we’re going to hold the interviews when they are not around. Some said they think it’s going to interrupt their business, imagine them giving us 30 minutes to 1 hour of their business weekly. Several of them were not comfortable with the weekly interview. Some suggested if we can come on Sundays, which I don’t think would be comfortable because they said weekdays, they might not really have time to spare for us, except if we can come on Sundays to interview them.

The most common questions I have received from them has been where is your office located. It’s because Nigerians feel they need a person they can hold accountable in case of situations where they are being defrauded. Sometimes we just have to tell them that they shouldn’t worry and it’s a foreign organization. Often I encourage them to go through the website or even call up the numbers on the consent forms if they feel not comfortable with us. Futuristically, if L-IFT is going to be in Nigeria I will encourage it to have a presence and an office. 

Even after the project, L-IFT can help connect them with people that can give them either grants or loans to boost their businesses. Some people kept on asking if they are going to pay us for the first research process and in which I explained that there is no payment required during the study.


During the last training we had serious internet network problems particularly in so many situations where we were talking about consent forms. In fact, it took a while for us to know that there are two different consent forms, and then it was when I spoke with FM, he said I had to print it, and we had to drop one here and drop the two there and then sign, so it was confusing for me. Unfortunately, because we were not part of that particular training, my entire team was not even aware of what was supposed to do with the consent forms.  In fact we seem to be getting the information from the other respondents that I have talked to now that were supposed to have done this and all that.  We are really hopeful that there won’t be internet connections that will stop us from getting detailed information about this training because it just caused us a lot of problems in Kaduna.

Most of our respondents didn’t have a problem signing the consent forms. However, few of them would just say okay come back for the consent forms. Because we are using mostly the diary’s consent forms, those that refuse to participate in the study also refuse to sign the consent forms. Actually, the intake that we’re telling them to sign at first, perhaps wouldn’t have been an issue. We had respondents that refused because they say this is about the study and we will not sign. Some refused to sign because they will not participate in the study. 

We have gone back to meet some of them to help us sign the intake. We took our diaries consent form and were told to explain in detail, some of the owners and managers who signed the first one. It was difficult to get to them because they either come in the evening, or only during the weekends, and even some are not available. By the time we reach out to them, they just tell us their employee would sign, and give them the required authority to represent. 

We don’t have many cases of refusal to sign a second consent from Kaduna. We didn’t have the challenge because the first one was more detailed than the second one.

Regarding schools, due to the security challenge (kidnapping), the government has put a notice breakthrough and closed for an indefinite period. Alternatively, it was suggested to do the intake interview over the phone because the schools are not in session. 

If we are considering them for the final stage, can we still do phone interviews because of the extreme situation?

Mekdes, often we allow phone interviews for extreme situations, we will inform the NYU about the situations in Kaduna and then we will let you know. Also, we will also get back to you about owners giving the consent for their employees to sign on their behalf. 


There are some few things I noted. Sometimes, our field researchers will go to respondents, and they will be told that they are not in the mood. My team will go back and forth in one day, but I told them it is not proper as it will look like you are desperate or seeking something else. Hence, I gave them general advice, if faced with such a challenge, reschedule for the next day as opposed to going on the same day. Especially for a female field researcher, to not raise an unnecessary alarm or signal by the male respondents. that you have a lot of men.

Most of the respondents when you finish explaining the objectives of the study, at some point they will ask you why NYU and L-IFT are really interested and want to know the study’s benefit of the study NYU and L-IFT, and why are you going through a one-year study.

Another issue is, during census the field researchers conducted the interview with the employee so during the intake it was now the manager or the firm owner. Sometimes they will tell you that the employee didn’t tell them or that they are not really interested. Feels like starting afresh and explaining from the beginning. Some of the firm owners declined the interest to participate in the study.

Another issue was the field researchers that were working with me and later replaced with a new team. These new field researchers were not working in the area, weren’t part of the census and also don’t have prior relationships established. So that was a challenge to start fresh in the middle of the study. They needed time to create bonds with the respondents. We even had one occurrence where a respondent insisted our former field researcher phone him before he gave us his consent to go forward. 

We had 3 to 4 firms that are no longer operational between the census and the intake. They either laid off and downsized their staff, or moved the company to a village, or totally closed and will not continue with the business. So, I was concerned. During the one-year study, some of these firms, especially those that are kind of starting new ones, might not be able to close operations. If we are to find firms closing during the short time frame between the census and intake, several others during the longest period of the study. 

Based on our inquiry on the reason why they closed their firms, we have received inability to pay their employees anymore. The other was because of ill health, and he was the primary expert on the job, so he needed to lay off the staff because the profit and work wasn’t the same without his presence. A photocopy firm owned by a couple closed because the cost of materials (paper) increased, so they were unable to sustain the business. Another one wanted to move his business from town to village. 


Most of the respondents commented on the shortness of the interview. It was short and was straightforward. So, they didn’t complain about the duration that they spent answering. The respondents were happy about that. The one thing that didn’t go well was the fact that for some

Business owners here in Lagos don’t run and manage the business. So it was very difficult reaching the business owner to give their consent even for the managers to participate was very difficult.

Another challenge is frequent rescheduling of meetings by the respondents. It is challenging to reach out and have access to business owners in Lagos. Because several business owners do not manage their business.

We had so many funny experiences. I personally went to interview someone after explaining all the information, he said he will agree to participate in the study. However, he said to me if any unusual events happen, or I get robbed, you will be a prime suspect because I am revealing and disclosing all his confidential information and details about my finances. People take finance so seriously. 

Few people raised said that if we give you wrong information how would your organization know whether they are giving us accurate or false information about their financial transaction. Hence, I explain about why we are seeking your consent, we want a true and accurate information feed for the research. 

One challenge we faced was relocation. After the census, the firm was chosen for intake but the person was no longer there, unreachable by phone, and no one knew about his whereabouts. 

Concerning the consent form, respondents were not comfortable being addressed “subject” and placing their signature on it. They say it will be appropriate to be addressed as “participant” or as “respondents”. 

I will recommend it for further studies if we add a comments section at the end of the questionnaire because our people actually would have loved to place their comments.