Respondents’ Stories Shared by the Field Team: 01 October 2021 – 15 October 2021

posted in: SFD Blogs - Nigeria | 0

Michael Enyam

Code: NG245

This is one of the firms struggling among the firms I am assigned to. Sometimes in a week I visit and don’t get anything to record. According to the firm owner, things began being difficult after the COVID-19 outbreak where he couldn’t commit to some of his responsibilities. He has sold one of his printing machines. Currently, he has 2 employees working for him. Because they sometimes hardly generate income for weeks, he often does not come to the shop frequently and always asks for feedback from his employees which oftentimes is on the negative side.

I was supposed to meet with him last week Thursday but he informed me he was traveling when I called. So yesterday, I called him in the afternoon to know if he was back and his response was an affirmative so I dashed in. He narrated his ordeal to me and this time he was really enraged.

When traveling, he asked a few of his friends to monitor his employees. He discovered on his arrival that his employee who manages the business underreports, even when he generates money, and sometimes doesn’t record at all and puts the money in his pocket. He realized this when a few clients visited back when he was around. On Friday last week, his manager collected a job of N10,000 (24 USD) to deliver this week. On his arrival, his manager told them the money generated was N13,000. He was arrested by police while going to search for material to do the job he collected and N10,000 was taken from him.

Imagine struggling to generate N200 (0.5 USD) sometimes in a week and when the business finally comes, your employee decides which one should not be recorded. He was really fed up. Currently, his shop rent is due, N5,000 (12 USD), monthly, and his employees are doing this to him. He intends to send the boy away after delivering the job he collected.



Code: NG110

So this is a firm that is into palm kernel oil production and they have been lamenting bitterly because of the challenging months all year, especially the rainy season. And on visiting the above firm on Saturday, the respondent was in such a sour mood.

After waiting patiently she narrated how she had incurred losses of N30,000 (72 USD) just that day, blaming it on the kind of raw material in the market that week.

Of the normal sludge cake, watery sludge, and ground cake used for processing, she could only find ground cake which has the lowest yield, and after all the labor in the smoke, heat, and her bad health conditions, she still incurred an N30,000 loss in just one day.

She also disclosed that in the last month of September, her total loss was almost N500,000 (1209 USD), which had raised her blood pressure to 180/120, triggering a severe ulcer and typhoid attack which landed her in the hospital.

I could barely say anything as I listened with empathy as she kept soliciting assistance in whatever form.


Folaranmi Olarinde

Code: NG532

So I visited this firm for my regular weekly transactions, I told her I will be asking her a few questions on record-keeping. When I got to the worst month of last year, she told me and explained in detail. So I further asked about the best month of last year and I noticed this excitement and joy all over her face. She laughed so hard and said, “Really, you want to know?” and she told me her best month and her net income. To cap it all, she made a remark that last year things were so tough everywhere, especially for business owners, but on their own path, the story was different because they made so much profit and they can never forget that year for good.


Chinenye E

Code: NG706

This respondent has often complained to me that she is not making a profit in her business and that, most times, she has to put in money from other sources for her business to keep going. She said her only hope is that they tell her that the first two years of business are usually tough and that things will get better after that. She officially started her school in 2018 and so 2020 should have been her second year but owing to COVID, she is counting this year as her second year and advising herself to hold on that she will soon start enjoying profits from her school.

Today she informed me that she has gotten a new headteacher and that she hired her because she heard the lady is good at influencing parents to bring their children to a school. She said that she hopes to have her around for a while so she can bring in students for her, but she will then terminate her contract as she can’t afford to pay the new headteacher for long.


Precious Ita

Code: NG262

I had previously posted a story about my respondent that had accommodation issues, that paid to a wrong house agent, and was asked to leave within a week. So he finally got another place, though yet to fully pay and the lawyer is yet to give him a refund. He mentioned using military personnel to follow up with the case, that that’s his resolve.

He had earlier mentioned that he lost 40 pupils since his accommodation issue started. He said that their parents withdrew them from his school. As of yesterday when I visited him, he said a parent and his wife had just withdrawn their 3 children earlier in the day. He said he was devastated and broken.

I just told him to take it easy on himself and pray for better days.


Magdaline Musa

Code: NG484

Yesterday was a bit stressful for me because of the ban on bikes and curfew for tricycles in Kaduna. I had to walk for a long distance in a rush because it was getting dark and I needed to get to my last respondent who was sick last week. I got to her house by 7 pm and when I went in, I saw her going through her records. She was so excited when she saw me. She said she was not happy she missed last week’s interview because even when I went to visit her in the hospital with the consent of my supervisor she wanted me to interview her in the hospital. I told her no and that we are more concerned about her well-being. She told me how the diary interviews have made her decide to start using software to record her transactions because she has noticed that she used to forget about the price of products she sold on credit but now she writes everything down. I had to leave very early because of insecurity.


Oluwakemi Adepetu

Code: NG274

Yesterday was not my appointment with this firm but he was not around last week when I visited so, to wrap up my record-keeping survey, I had to fix a meeting with him to conduct the interview. We started the interview on a good note and he responded so well then I asked him one of the questions in English asking if he had plans to improve his record-keeping system. He just gave me a response that was not related to the question which seemed like a confession. Below was our line of conversation:

NG274: If I understand your English well, I want to let you know that when I started paying back the loan I got from YYY bank, I opened a different account where I usually save a certain amount of money after paying back to the bank every month. But I didn’t save that money last month.

Me: How much is this certain amount you save in a separate account? Did you declare this account when we set your firm up on FINBIT?

NG274: (He smiled then replied) I am sure you can’t have access to the money if I declare it to you?

Me: Never, we can’t get to where your money is. I just need to record the information. (We both laughed)

NG274: Okay, I save the sum of NXYZ into the account every end of the month, so that by the time I am done paying the loan, I can fall back on the savings.

Me: Oh that is nice sir. So what is the name of the bank again and how much is the total money there as of today

NG274: I have QRS amount in the account.

Then we got back to the survey questions that culminated in this confession and I explained to him in our native language then he responded well till we finished the survey.


Magdaline Musa

Code: NG206

Today I had to leave home very early to meet a respondent who is a lecturer and closes late so sometimes we miss our appointment or have it late in the evening. Today I noticed she went for a workout and I commended her for it. She invited me for the workout and I accepted because I figured that will be the only way I can have our interview in the morning. She was very excited that I accepted to go for the workout and even asked if my colleagues stay close by so that they can join. I told her my colleagues don’t stay close. I guess I will be back to shape by the end of the diary survey. Wish me luck.


Precious Ita

Code: NG281

So I called this particular respondent to visit him for the weekly financial reports yesterday, but he said he was not available, so I just asked him a general question on how business has been before we fixed a reschedule. He started complaining about poor sales and how bad business has been for him.

He owns a printing firm and also sells cars occasionally.

He has an issue with income. Whenever I ask for his most recent transactions for income, he keeps saying business has not been coming and sales are poor and that he sometimes goes weeks without sales. Then when I ask him how he has been coping since the past few weeks, he says, “Precious, I am a spiritual man”. When I asked him to explain what he had just said, he said that he’s a man of faith and that people randomly send him money and that is how he lives.

Oftentimes, it looks like he is hoarding some information because, how else do you explain that he is running his Master’s program, he has a car that he maintains and fuels, he has children and a wife he caters for, and he pays bills such as PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria). When I try to probe to get more information, he says “Precious, I am telling you the truth. I know you are doing research and I want you to get the right information so it can help your research.”

When I asked him how his workers cope since he has not paid them for a long while (he said he pays piece rate), because since customers have not been coming and workers have not been working and why are they are still with him, he said he allows them freelance.


Oluwakemi Adepetu

Code: NG123

This story is actually a long one and I feel it should be written in episodes.

Episode ONE:

Right from when I conducted the intake interview it has been a different experience and like they always say, “You learn every day.”

This firm was selected recently as I am yet to complete my target firms for SFD. As I got to meet her for the intake, I explained what SFD entails and what is required of their firm. She had even shown interest during census so it wasn’t difficult to convince her as she understands the importance of the research. We had completed the intake interview and it was time to sign the consent form so I gave her the two copies which I had photocopied in her firm as they also offer printing/photocopy services. She asked, where the original copy of the consent form was and said that this is a photocopy and it is not evidence in the court of law, in case something happens and she needs to bring out the original copy a photocopy won’t stand as evidence. She added that she was sorry but she couldn’t sign it. She asked if she is the only one that insists on signing an original printout. I said yes and told her that as a matter of fact, in my previous years of field experience, I have not had any respondent insist on signing an original copy. She said she had worked in a legal firm and she understood the importance of an original copy and that I should relate this information with our team. In conclusion, I went into her business center to print out an original copy which she gladly signed and kept as her own copy while I took the photocopy as our own copy.

Episode TWO:

This firm was finally selected to participate in the SFD project and I was excited that I was meeting my numbers gradually. Meanwhile, on my previous visit, I had asked when it was a good time to come around for our meeting. She said that anytime from 4 pm would be good as her students would be out of the school. As I got to her firm, she was less busy and I brought out my phone to register her firm on FINBIT. I reiterated the objectives of SFD and how we will go on to record the firm’s financial transactions on a weekly basis. She was interested, judging by her reactions and remarks. I registered her successfully and told her about my next visit which would be to set up the account and record three weeks’ financial records. We were both looking forward because she asked how long the setup was going to take and I said about 45 minutes to an hour as they have quite a number of business assets. Fast forward to the day to set up, I was excited and knew I would spend some time setting up. I got to the firm and strutted into her office and sat down, hoping to set up. Then she shocked me. She said, “I have discussed this project with my husband and he has some questions which I had to ask you the last time.” The questions go like this:

“Where is your Physical office in Nigeria?”

“Can we be sure that our data are safe?”

“Apart from you, how do we communicate with your organization?”

“I don’t know you aside when you come in here, and you know the things we hear these days are scary and we wouldn’t want to take chances. We need to be sure we are not exposing ourselves as our business is new.”

I answered her questions one after the other and asked for her email so we can send her an official letter of introduction and she can get to communicate with the project manager. I promised her that our organization will send her a mail and she is free to ask any questions to clear her doubt. She promised to communicate my responses with her husband and said that I should check back the following week. I just got weak when I couldn’t set up her account as I planned and in my heart, I was praying I get a positive response.

I will update you on episode 3 soon.



General Story

So I attended a 1 hour Word session in Church on Friday night and boarded a keke home around 9 pm.

I alighted at my bus stop around 9:15 and saw my neighbor and, together, we walked the short distance home in our dark street. I had my phone’s torch on and in a twinkle, 3 guys wielding cutlasses blocked us and started threatening to stab us if we don’t hand over everything. I looked around and realized running wasn’t worth the gamble and I just dropped my work bag containing N8,000 I had withdrawn for essentials.

I did beg them for my sim cards at least, considering the stress of retrieving lines, but all I got was a slap before they disappeared.

My neighbor, a banker, tried forming a defense but he too realized that on such a lonely road, it wasn’t worth risking our lives and he too handed everything.

After they left, my neighbor said he had seen 1 of the guys sometimes and felt he lived not too far with his family, and so we headed to the local vigilanté post immediately to report our misfortunes. They asked for any descriptions and my neighbor who’d lived in the area was able to give some which really did help.

The Head of vigilanté assured us of prompt action and said we should come back by 6 am Saturday.

Sincerely speaking, I cried on Friday night and barely closed my eyes till 3 pm. I just couldn’t imagine the stress especially of waiting till Tuesday to get a sworn affidavit from the court, just for sim retrieval. The thought of my sim cards being sold immediately for fraudulent activities which could be traceable to me, as prevalent nowadays, scared me too. Our phones had been switched off almost immediately too

We headed back to the vigilanté post by 6 am Saturday and with the help of my neighbor’s narrative, tracked 1 of the guys to his supposed family house where we met his aged mother and some siblings. On threatening them, they revealed the particular son wasn’t home all night and we got his line and tried reaching him fruitlessly.

We patiently waited until past 10 am and out of the blue, the guy wavered towards us drunk. Then he was held tied and the beating started. I had to beg them to interrogate him first as all I cared about was my stolen items.

It was a long session of interrogation, before he confessed, even revealing a shop in town where his crew had taken our gadgets to for sales that morning.

We all left for the shop in town in the vigilanté’s van and it wasn’t a small drama arriving there as the owner stayed firm in denial and wouldn’t allow us entry until we involved the police team close by.

To cut the long story, the police and vigilante team helped us get our phones back by crude methods and wouldn’t return them until we gave our statements at their post and proved the accessories were ours.

It took a while begging till evening and raising N4,000 for their stress before I got back my phone and thankfully, both sim cards which had long been removed.

Whatever was their resolution, I hurriedly left to avoid further police extortion and to reach my supervisor who had gotten so worried, having been unable to reach me for over 18 hours.

Need I remind us that my N8,000 was wasted by the guy and his team on drugs, and as of yesterday, I was told 1 more person had been arrested while 1 is on the run.

I am happy and grateful I was unharmed, and even though I lost N12,000 and some ‘logistics’ money, I was able to recover my phone and sim cards on the whole.


Anastasia Obodo

Code: NG826

This respondent keeps clean records and always says that he is glad that he participated in the survey and was eventually chosen for this project because, with this project, he clearly sees how he runs his business and can record his daily transaction. This is new for him but it’s a good approach when it comes to running his business. After our regular weekly transactions check he gifted me a pot.


Anastasia Obodo

Code: NG826

This respondent keeps clean records and always says that he is glad that he participated in the survey and was eventually chosen for this project because, with this project, he clearly sees how he runs his business and can record his daily transaction. This is new for him but it’s a good approach when it comes to running his business. After our regular weekly transactions check he gifted me a pot.


Precious Ita

Code: NG694

So I visited my respondent yesterday. The moment he saw me, he just said, “Precious, I’m not ready for this. My mind is not organized right now.” He complained bitterly about the incessant repair of his generator and how he had spent a lot of money on it and said that if he had put the money together, he would have been able to get a new phone.

He was so furious about the Nigerian government and was placing curses and cussing at the government that they rot in hell, saying there should not even be a power outage. Then he asked how L-IFT can help him. I told him we are currently carrying out a survey first, as it’s the gathered data that will help us know what the actual challenges in his business are.

Then (maybe unconsciously) he started calculating the cost of repair and total expenses on Sunday, Friday, and Thursday, so I asked about Wednesday. When he noticed I was writing down, he said “ah Precious, I’m not ready.” I told him, “Sir we’re doing good and almost done.”, that was how we were able to gather his last week’s transactions.

He just kept cussing and saying it’s the citizens that will eventually shoot those in government.


Precious Ita

Code: NG224

This respondent keeps his financial records. When I visit, he allows me access to his books (income and expenses are in two separate books). The respondent talked about how much he would appreciate being assisted financially by L-IFT and/or NYU as it will help him upgrade his firm and also help him generate more income.

He said thieves have broken through the ceiling into his firm 3 times and made away with most of his work tools and that if he had the money, he has plans on how he could go about completely stopping thieves from gaining access into his firm.

I encouraged him to just continue with the project and told him it is information like this the survey seeks to capture.


Oluwakemi Adepetu

Code: NG123 

Episode THREE:

Last week was the day to get a response, either positive or negative. I remember I was anxious and called her over the phone to ask if her husband gave a go-ahead but she insisted I come to the office and that it wasn’t a phone conversation. I found my way to her office and then she asked some questions which were from her husband. She asked how safe our data was. I assured her of the confidentiality and explained how each firm was coded. Eventually, I got a YES from her. Then I asked if it was a good time to set up the account and she said she needs some time to put their assets altogether and that I should send her all the details i would need for the account set up so that she can provide them all at once as they have quite a number of asset and it would take us the whole day setting up manually. I promised to send her an excel template with all the details required to set up. She was glad to participate as she mentioned that all the information required from L-IFT is the data/system they planned to put in place in their organization but L-IFT is giving them a push to put them all together quickly. I forwarded the template to her as promised and she asked that I give her more time to put them together. I will be meeting her today and I hope she would have compiled the asset and employee list.

PATIENCE is indeed a virtue.


Magdaline Musa

Code: NG484

My Tuesdays are usually filled with drama. I went for my interview yesterday and ended up finishing the interview in a hospital. Don’t panic. My respondent and I are doing OK. When I went for the interview, I noticed the respondent’s grandson who is almost 3 months old was crying for too long and I asked if he was ok. They said he has been like that for 3 days and that he has not excreted for a week. I became worried and asked if they had taken him to the hospital because it is not normal to have a baby that young crying for that long. They said no so I put a call to a doctor friend who is a pediatrician and he asked we take the baby to the hospital. Mind you, that was around past 8 pm. My respondent, myself, and her daughter had to go to the hospital since they didn’t know the location of the hospital. While at the hospital, the respondent felt bad that I was unable to finish my interview and asked we continue with the interview while her daughter and grandson get to see the doctor. It was a stressful day but I was glad I was able to help. By the time we got home, the boy was sound asleep. This picture was taken with the consent of the respondent. I got home by past 9 pm last night.

The respondent kept thanking me for showing concern. Like always, I told her L-IFT is concerned about her wellbeing before we talk business. Tomorrow is my walk-out day, pray for me because the trekking I have been doing is more than a walk-out already.


Oluwakemi Adepetu

Code: NG370

One of my respondents is into shoe/bag making, repairs, and sales. Last week, Friday, we got to talking and, in the middle of the conversation, he mentioned that someone paid him for the franchise of his business three years ago. I was so impressed at hearing such then I asked how he pulled it off, he said the agreement was to set up the brand in a different location entirely not close to his, train their staff for three months, and give them support once a week for a whole year. I asked if the franchise is still functional he said YES and that they are doing perfectly well.


Oluwakemi Adepetu

Code: NG808

This is a firm owner who makes/sells/repairs shoes, sandals, bags, and wristwatches. On one of my weekly visits, we got talking and he told me a little about the innovations he had put into his business. He had a mobile shop in 2008 that drives around different streets/locations to collect customers’ shoes/bags/watches for repair or if they want a new one. Sometimes they repair on the go, or they take it to their shop if it is a repair that needs extra attention. They did this for some time and the demand they get on a daily basis was more than their supply and they were not meeting up with deliveries. It got to a point that when they drive by some areas, some people will scream behind their vehicle that they don’t keep their brand’s promise and they disappoint customers a lot. This denting the image of their brand coupled with the fact that they had inadequate manpower to keep up with the mobile shop forced them to fold up that part of the business.


Oluwakemi Adepetu

Code: NG565

Episode ONE:

There is this firm that was added to my list of firms as I am yet to have my eighteen firms complete. Immediately as I saw the firm ID for intake, I knew I was in for some double dose of patience and strategy. For instance, when I was trying to get the manager’s attention for the intake, I was asking for a replacement of the firm in my personal telegram group stating that the manager is always busy and rescheduling every time I call. Our able FM replied, and I quote, “A firm not responding to your message is not enough reason to call for replacement, but with perseverance, everything will work out smoothly.” I persevered till I eventually met with her to conduct the intake after which her firm was selected for the SFD. 

I called her to inform her about the progress and she asked that she speak with her boss to get her consent to be registered on FINBIT. She is the one overseeing the business but she said she always likes to carry the owner along. She rescheduled our meeting and asked that I send her a detailed message on WhatsApp explaining what FINBIT is all about and how it will help the SFD research so she can forward the message to the firm owner to get her consent. I did what she requested and followed up with her over the phone. She eventually got a go-ahead from her boss and asked that I come to her office last week Wednesday.

Episode TWO:

On our meeting day last week, she told me to get to her office at 11 am. I got to the office before her and waited for some minutes before she arrived. I was determined in my mind to register the firm on FINBIT and also do the setup on the same day because I understand her schedule already. She asked how long I needed to do all of that and I explained what I need to do. This woman is a definition of a multitasker. She just told me she had students waiting to be trained and that I should sit down comfortably in her office and enjoy the air-conditioning even though it rained earlier. We successfully registered on FINBIT and I sent to Kaleab to quickly work on her registration and he was quick to respond. Then when it came to setting up, the manager was busy in class. She would come for 5 minutes, and disappear for another 45minutess. This was how I spent the whole day at her firm last week and yet we didn’t finish with the setup; we stopped at the employee list. When it got to the asset, she just told me the accountant has more details and that she would inform him to send me the details. I still didn’t give up.

She left me in her office for some minutes, came back, and said, “Kemi, I thought we have completed the job for today?” I said. “Ahh, we still need your last 3 weeks’ report.” She just explained how they operate the business, that they have an external auditor who comes in to compile their records, and that she would ask him for the last 3 weeks’ report, but I should call her to remind her over the phone. I eventually gave up and told her we would meet again this week on Wednesday.


Deborah Ekundina

Code: NG418

So I visited my last respondent for today, who has been very difficult to reach over the phone due to network issues in Kaduna. After my interview with the respondent, it was time for me to leave and I was thinking about how I’d get out of this environment because motorcycles have been banned, and getting a Tricycle is really not fun. So when I said to my respondent that I was leaving, he said, “Let me drop you where you’ll get a taxi at least to relieve you of the stress of trekking a long distance.” I was very happy and thanked him for being helpful.


Precious Ita

Code: NG262

So my respondent reached out and said “Nne (as he calls me), hmm, my wife entered a one chance bus this morning on her way to work. Her phone and her jewelry were stolen from her. They collected her ATM card and asked her for the pin. She gave them and they drove her to an ATM stand and tried it and I guess the network was bad, so it didn’t dispense money. They came back and slapped her and asked her for the correct pin. This time, they drove her to another ATM stand and she insisted that was her pin. They tried again and this time it went through and they drained her account. Her salary that she was recently paid was cleared and I had plans to tell her to withdraw money from it to enable me to run this school for some time. I am just tired”.

People of God, my jaw dropped and I did a quick mental check with all the sad events that this particular respondent has been facing concurrently in the past few weeks. I almost was not sure of what to say to him. I just told him to take heart and that everything will be fine really soon. He said she had gone to the bank to block her ATM card.

Then he said, “All those survey questions you asked me, I hope I won’t be disqualified from continuing in this project for all this information and answers I gave you?” I told him that rest assured nothing will be used against him.