Yesterday morning was not business as usual for me and this firm. I got to the firm and was hoping to meet the manager as usual, even though I did not call before going as I have mastered the manager’s Tuesday schedule. I was trying to save time by getting to the firm before 11 am before the manager will be super busy with training. Long story short, I got in and the other staff informed me that the manager was not yet at the office. I hung on for a few then called her around 11:24 am, she said she was stuck in traffic since 8:30 am that she might have to turn back home. She said the same thing happened on Monday and it affected their business as all the cake orders that were supposed to be delivered on Monday were postponed till the next day and they had to preserve them by putting them in the fridge. She said there was a particular customer whom they sent uber services to deliver to, but before the driver got to the customer it took a long time because of the heavy gridlock. Guess what, the delivery fee tripled and the customer rejected the cake because she doesn’t want to pay the huge delivery fee. The manager said she insisted the driver dropped the cake with them while they bore the high cost of delivery. While I took my time at the firm, I saw other employees working on customers’ orders as a team without the manager’s presence. I was fascinated by their team spirit.
It was a bright and Sunny day in the city of Kaduna. We set out for our day’s responsibilities not minding the hot weather.
We stopped by this respondent, a laundry Man, in his usual self, ever cooperative and enthusiastic.
Getting to his firm, his neighbor, a young man accosted FR1. Obviously, he was interviewed during the census but his firm wasn’t chosen during intake. He jokingly but truthfully expressed his reservation about missing out on the research.
Back to my focus: The laundry Man, after exchanging pleasantries, we started off with interviews on Financial transactions and surveys.
After the routine FT interview-cum-survey, he was given his N5,000 Airtime incentive, firstly he was perplexed and speechless, his countenance beamed with great excitement and a renewed commitment to the Small firm Diary project. He endlessly expressed his gratitude.
Today’s session at this carpentry and furniture production firm featured my respondent feeling excited at the N5000 (11.4 USD) financial incentive from L-IFT.
While recounting his favorite experience of the work week, he recalled having been worried about the slow patronage until Tuesday afternoon when a private customer he’d served months ago miraculously called to seek terms of production of 3 beds due urgent delivery by Wednesday next week. After factoring in the exorbitant cost of medium-density fiber-board; the chief component to be used, he settled for 2 beds and transferred 75% of the total cost almost immediately for work to start which has progressed smoothly thus far.
He also indicated his longest-serving employee had secured some space and quit amicably at the end of last week to start his furniture production line within the cluster, not far from the firm.
This respondent into furniture production loves listing the machines he’s praying for; an informal psyche at his unending long-term expectations from the study, notwithstanding his detailed understanding of the scope of the study, and today, while expressing gratitude for the financial incentive from L-IFT, he informed me of his urgent need for a standing jack plane and delivery truck which he’s financially constrained to buy.
In addition to a smooth interview session with him, I did capitalize on a less busy atmosphere which is rare at the firm, to get consent and administer the employee qualitative survey to his available employee.
On my first visit today to this thriving medical laboratory I met the firm owner rescheduling the session till 6 pm as she hurried out for an urgent assignment.
She was grateful for the financial incentive on our rescheduled session while lamenting that the power situation around the firm area hasn’t improved at all from February.
While appreciating the 5000 naira incentive given to her, the respondent informed me that she will definitely use the money to buy data and plead with her children to teach her how she can be posting the firm’s products on Facebook and other social media Platforms.
This is the entrance of this firm, also the respondent said he is making efforts to get a better location for his business.
Trucks are usually packed in front of the building, and the trucks drive and out.
Attached are when trucks are packed in and are not.
He said he got this current space out of urgency after the unfortunate incident of paying to the wrong person for the other place and it was the only available place at that time.
The respondent said he hasn’t been around and only came in on Wednesday. His wife has been the one running the shop since their sales girl hasn’t resumed since this year. He said he doesn’t like taking loans because of the pressure of paying them back. Also said he has his business on google Maps so people can easily locate it.
This respondent owns a leather production firm where they make all kinds of leather products including belts, shoes, sandals, and slippers. He was working on a customer’s shoe when I got there. Unlike other days he was focused on the work even after I got there. On asking, he explained that he needed to finish the work today because the customer is on his neck to pick up the work today for church tomorrow. The customer even called him while I was there angry that his work wasn’t ready yet. We couldn’t do the surveys because of this.
My respondent today was delighted with the financial incentive from L-IFT.
On noting the continued reduction in the firm’s transactions recently, she reminded me of having to tread with so much caution in the volatile kernel oil market as seen in recent weeks.
According to her, she felt better not even producing and investing her resources in her well-being, than naively continuing production, thereby garnering a string of losses as she’d fallen victim in the past, especially with the draining nature of her trade.
The last time I visited this firm to record FT data, as usual, the firm owner complained about how the fuel scarcity and long queues at the fuel stations have affected the timely delivery of her products to customers.
On that very day that I visited for business, as usual, she (the firm owner) had a case of one of her customers who wanted a product delivered to her before 12 pm but the driver couldn’t meet up with the customer time schedule, so she had to call the customer to apologize.
The firm owner also told me that this has been happening since the fuel scarcity started and most times the firm bares more of the delivery cost in order to keep their clients.
After giving her the 5000 Airtime incentive, she was so happy and said thanks for lighting up my mood.
Each time I visit this firm for business as usual, and I ask about the number of hours worked by the firm owner and employees, I get higher figures like 90hours and sometimes more than 90hours per week for an employee.
The firm owner said Kilishi business sells more at night in the North and sometimes they stay at the shop till 11 pm most times. The firm owner is thankful for the 5000N incentive he got from L-IFT. Below is a picture of an already processed kilishi.
This respondent has maintained piqued interest in the study from the beginning and today’s session was enlightening yet again.
Having expressed gratitude for the financial incentive from L-IFT, the firm owner took out time to explain with pictorial examples the difference between all 3 grades of wood;
Summarily, grade A is fully processed wood with all smooth surfaces (the costliest at #1800/section),
Grade B isn’t well processed and has rough surfaces while grade C is the uncouth wood sections with cracks all over that are mostly used as firewood.
In his quest to “make something out of nothing” (his personal mantra), and cut down expenses on raw materials thereby maximizing profits, he had treaded the rarely-charted course of purchasing a very large quantity of grade C wood for just #15,000 during the week and like neighbor firm owners in the production cluster, I was amazed at the amount of finished and ongoing products he had made and was making out of the grade C wood sections, in addition to the amount remaining as seen in the pictures below.
The best part is how he is able to produce such durable, well-polished, and neat furniture with such ‘unwanted looking materials’.
On the whole, he was so happy at having to produce so much at less than 20% of the cost he would incur had he bought the processed grade A wood with hiked prices.
He reiterated again why no wood section is wasted in his factory plus his mission of always making something out of nothing.
This firm owner is a female and she is into the blacksmith business. Initially, when this project started I went to her for the survey she was not really interested because she was like this is also fraud I have to explain the project to her before she gave her consent to Join but as time goes by she became so interested that she take her interview period so serious. When I gave her the Incentive for airtime she was really happy. She appreciated the kind gestures from L-IFT.
I visited this firm, He is into carpentry. You remember I wrote a story about what was happening in his firm regarding his missing working tools and materials. Yesterday when I went for my interview, as usual, he told me that his working tools and materials are still missing even after he sack the employee that he caught stealing from him following what he said it means is not only the sacked employee was the one stealing. He was really feeling bad when he was narrating the story to me.
The firm owner greatly appreciated the 5000 naira incentive and also pleaded for more financial assistance from L-IFT at end of the project.
Last week Wednesday was one of the scariest in our location from the effect of fuel scarcity with long queues, gridlock, road construction, and hike in the price of fares. I thought to visit this firm even though it wasn’t our scheduled visiting day. As I moved towards his workshop, I glimpsed it was under lock and key. One of his neighbors pointed him to me. He was talking to a customer when he saw me and held my hand to another empty workshop on the same lane. He said his rent was due to be paid but he has been unable to pay, hence the landlord locked his workshop. He also said he was working on raising some funds to pay the rent hopefully by the next day. I seized the opportunity to ask him about the gender survey which took about 90 minutes cause I had to translate the questions into our general language which he understood better. Long story short he has not been able to raise the fund to pay the rent but he is been managing with his neighbors to run his business. He is still hopeful that by the weekend he would be able to pay his rent and open his business again.
Mondays are my scheduled visiting day for this firm who occurred to run a creche/nursery/primary and secondary school. As I got to meet with the admin officer who was my respondent, he informed me about losing one of their pupils to a motorbike accident. The mother carried the little child in front of a bike transporting them from one place to another, unfortunately, they had an accident and the four-year-old got hit the most, they rushed him to the hospital and after some days the poor child died. The admin officer said he kept checking on the parents in the hospital till they transferred him to a higher level hospital but they lost him. The admin officer also informed me that the school management decided to take a cash gift of N20,000 (46 USD) to pay a condolence visit to the family today.
Code: NG160, NG148 and NG184
All 3 firm respondents expressed gratitude for the financial incentive from L-IFT, with both the former and latter expressing hope of imminent assistance especially in form of machinery to help them scale production.
I tried to douse what was heightened expectation by reminding them the nature of the project in studying their weekly operations and accessing gaps towards first improving upon the quality of data available for their operations, and boosting future planning;
These though, did little to quell their expectations, especially as the former kept muttering the ‘International’ nature of the project.
All my life I have only known of one type of cabbage which is the normal green cabbage but today i introduce some of us who were like me to red cabbage. I don’t know why it is called that since its color is not red. This firm deals in assorted greens and vegetables.
Since I began sharing the N5000 (11.4 USD) incentive to respondents, today’s respondent’s reaction wowed me.
She is a lecturer who is always thanking me for ensuring she keeps her records. When I told her about the incentive she stood up and began dancing. I never expected that she would appreciate it this much. She asked me to thank L-IFT for all they are doing and said she thinks she is the most blessed by this study.
At this furniture production firm today, my respondent was grateful for how business events had unfolded favorably from the slow start he had at the beginning of the week.
He disclosed that he’ll be traveling to the village tomorrow morning to supervise some family building construction for the next 2 weeks.
Code: NG317 & NG274
They are both in the sawmilling business, yesterday was a busy day for them. Typically they have days that go that way when they stock up. The whole place will be filled with trucks and also with the noise of the sawmill machine that would barely leave you struggling to hear what the next person is saying. They both got their incentives yesterday and they were filled with joy. Below is a sneak peek of yesterday’s busy moments.
The above pic is NG317’s workshop which is about two points away from NG274 but yesterday he was at NG317 who happened to be the association’s chairman of the association, to work on his wood as he had some supplies to make.
This firm is a school. Sometime last year he narrated his ugly experience with his landlord. The place he was staying was sold out to a developer and they were given quit notice. Things were tough and he moved into his firm and share the same building. Each time I visit him, he always complains about not being comfortable with his situation. During his challenging period, he had to let go of some of his staff.
Last 2 weeks after our meeting, he informed me he got an uncompleted building and is currently working on it so he can move in as soon as possible.
Yesterday, I visited him at the location.
Work is currently ongoing and he’s hopeful that he will achieve this soon. It may not be what he wants but he is proud of his efforts- he added.
Pictures are shown below.
On my last visit to this firm on Monday, I observed that the firm was choked up in the office with employees carrying on with their operations. I could barely breathe while I was inside then I carried out my observations, and asked the secretary a few questions that would support my “special event survey” responses before I get to speak with the firm owner. I left the firm immediately when I finished with the secretary. Yesterday I sent a message to the firm owner to check on him. He responded, giving an update on the expansion of the business which has taken most of his time.
Let me give you a picture of what the firm looks like:
An ample space demarcated for “production” I.e. dry cleaning, ironing, sorting of customers’ clothes, etc, with another part used as an office and pick-up point. It’s fully air-conditioned fitted, but with the heat that emanates from using washing machines, iron, and all sorts of equipment, one will not feel the effect of the air conditioner now that they have to meet different customers’ orders. The firm owner had no choice but to move the production department of the firm to another location leaving this present location as a pick-up point and administration point. He shared this vision with us during the “Aspiration and strategy survey” He also said that they have not been accepting new customers because of this expansion and that once the new production location is completely set up they will continue to welcome new customers. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the fuel scarcity and hike in the price of materials even though they didn’t increase their selling price as a result of this which has reduced their profit margin drastically. In conclusion, he promised to provide detailed financial transactions once the new location is ready for business and plead that we bear with him for now.
When we started SFD, I noticed this firm was not having as many sales as expected and he also complained about the same. This year has been a different one for the firm as they are mostly engaged in production activities. I hardly have his attention when I visit the firm. It would be unfair of me to see him working and insist he attends to me. Most times he would promise to send me his FT via WhatsApp and anytime I am lucky to visit when he is on break I administer some surveys with him and encourage him to always record all FTs. Above is the video and picture of my last week’s visit.
Each time I visit this photocopying/ printing firm, the firm manager always shows me the phone she got from L-IFT. But yesterday when I visited the firm, the first thing she told me (before giving me the transaction data for the week) was that the phone she got from L-IFT has been stolen and she promised herself that she was going to track the phone and recover it back.
I’ve not been able to see this respondent for over 4weeks because her little baby has been critically ill. Each time I and my supervisor call her over the phone to know how the baby is fairing, we could depict from her voice that she’s not really happy about the whole situation.
So when I called yesterday to check on her, she told me that the baby went on comma and she couldn’t breastfeed her, hence feeding the baby was done through the nostrils.
I encouraged her to be strong and that everything will be fine.