Respondents’ Stories Shared by the Field Team: 11 June 2021 – 22 June 2021

posted in: SFD Blogs - Ethiopia | 0
ID: ET587 (Garage):
“It was at a childhood stage that I was attracted by this work and started to practice the job by being an assistant for garage owners and chief mechanics.
At the beginning for almost 6 years I worked in the ‘Benyam Garage’ and achieved many technical skills which laid a ground for my today’s experience. Then, I started to drive a lorry for 5 years, but it wasn’t profitable for me. I immediately shifted to my previous profession and rejoined them. It was another garage that helped me to gain different types of skills. In this garage I worked for around 3 years, ‘Abiy garage’. It’s been more than 8 months since I opened up my own garage. I borrowed a small amount of money from some of my family members and friends. The other friends supported me by providing materials and money. Initially, I paid two months’ house rent which is 6000 birr per month, but now I am able to cover a monthly house rent. Currently, I am working just to promote myself, not for benefit. In a nut shell, I am attracted by the field and working on it. The profit will come next after my introduction period. One day the telethon to begin this job will be fruitful.”
History of respondent with 
ID: ET119:
He is 27 years old, not married until now; energetic and friendly entrepreneur who engaged in garment production especially knit wears with more than 26 sewing machines. It is interesting that almost all his employees are women which may be due to their talent in the task more than men. He has a tradition of recording financial transactions before also. He owns the business with Mahider in the name “Fikru, Mahider and Friends Manufacturing”. Currently, he is discouraged by custom unions act up to approaching to close the business. The case is described as follows: His business fulfils all the requirements for VAT tax payers level and  he wants to engage in big bid that he applied for VAT tax payers level which is required and mandatory for engagement of a firm in big bid, but custom union officers want money unlawfully (corruption) to certify Fikru’s business growth from TOT (middle tax payer) to VAT (large tax payer). He want to go to the law for a solution and I hope and wish he will be successful and the winner.
ID: ET775(Milling /grinding service):
The owner of this firm is an adult. Initially, he was a Derg regime soldier and when the Derg regime had fallen, he was displaced and after that he had not been able to find a job. He controlled over his father’s milling business. His father started the business 40 years ago and my respondents has been working in this business for the past 26 years since 1995 G.C. He has 4 children and a wife; one of his children helps him on the business. Currently the firm’s monthly income is around 24,000 birr and pays 6000 birr salary for one of his employee and 40 birr for house rent every month (it is cheap because it is “Keble’s”/government’s building).
Generally he is not happy with this work for it’s not profitable because there is a power problem most of the time and the workers frequently leave their job. He only does this work because it is his father’s  heritage and he has no knowledge or enough capital to start any other  business. He is forced to continue on his current work.
Let us share a story of our female owner who engaged in a furniture carpentry work (ET235):
She is 43 years old single mother and raising four children. She has a lot of responsibilities at home and at her working place. Mostly we expected that only males are engaged in furniture production but our brave respondent is exemplary for that females also can participate and be successful in this business. Even though she is currently having a lot of challenges at work, she is still trying to fix those problems. Among the problems she encountered, the first and fore most problem is the lack of electricity or power outages in that area. She is not doing any work at the moment because her work is not possible to do without electricity. This may be due to the fact that the transformer caught fire last week. This transformer is used for more than ten firms in the area and they claim maintenance to the electricity officers immediately. But rather than getting quick services, they are asked a lot of money by the electricians in addition to their salaries to make it work faster, so she told us that this type of corruption is very serious in their area every time. She still has no idea when the power will return and start her work. She also mentioned that because of this power outage, she can’t deliver her orders on time and her clients are disappointed. She believed that the future will be brighter and she is ready to face any challenges. The other parts, however, are going well. She have recorded all the transactions of last week on the notebook we have given her. As a result of that, It helped us to register easily and to get complete information without forgetting.
Today’s story is about ET921 which is engaged in printing and advertising service:
He is one of our wealthiest respondents. He also have a bakery (bread shop), his wife runs it. so we are focusing on the printing and advertising sector.  He has 3 kids and he is in his 40s, he is a Masters graduate and has quiet a knowledge about research as well. Before starting his business he used to work for some other institutions.  
It was last week, 3 June 2021, full sunny; that day our supervisor Henok B. came to visit us so all the three of us went there, it was at “Megenagna Marathon Building” 2nd floor. When we arrived there, the owner of the firm was going out and after greeting him, he orders one of his employees to give us the information we need and he got a call after that, then he returned, while he was waiting for someone, he started talking with us and the research wasn’t that clear for him. He asked again “what is the benefit, I don’t get it, it is not clear? Even for us as well”. The supervisor start talking about the research objects, mission etc…he kept on persuading him and the respondent said that “I know how research goes for sure, but there is nothing for change regarding to my experience”. Both our FR and Supervisor start using different approaches; the first one was about ‘most research’s perpetuation are short but this study is for a year, the duration of the research only can have sway for change’. The second one is ‘this research is managed by experts as well it has given a job opportunity for Ethiopians, and another thing is that there are some expenses which you don’t include in your account record book and the app helps you to know and manage it for the future, you won’t need an accountant, the app can manage all that’ etc. and he seemed well informed now and it took us more than half an hour.
ET275 (Injera Bakery):
It is 18 years now since my respondent has came to Dire Dawa to look for a job. In her arrival she was recruited as a cooker in a hotel. She worked as a cooker for 16 consecutive years and during her working time she started Equib (Village Saving Group). From this Equib, she was able to save 20,000 ETB and rented an “Injera” bakery house, the current shop. She bought 2 Injera baking ovens and 1 dough mixer to begin the business. When she started the bakery, she worked side by side without stopping from the kitchen work. She told me how she worked; She would add some yeast to the dough and when she returned from the kitchen/cooking work she baked the Injera and sold it back to the hotel, where she worked.  When the work became more efficient and she became known, she hired 1 staff member and started working together. Even at this time she did not stop her kitchen work until her business showed progress. But finally, she stopped the kitchen work and gave her fulltime for her own business. 
The surprising thing was she bought the same house which she used to pay rent for 50,000 ETB by the business profit she obtained. The other thing, she spent 40,000 ETB as an advance payment to buy the “Kebele” house from an individual with 100,000 ETB with full payment agreement. However, after she has been living there for 15 days, the “Kebele” confiscated her house by claiming it was illegal, for she was a new comer. She was raising her 3 children by the income from this business. She then rented an additional house for her business by 3000 ETB and she is administering 7 employees under her.
She has endured many hardships when running her business; She administers all her 7 employees alone, her shop is found along the roadside and she is baking “Injera” there, when the light goes out/off from the main electricity grid they bake “Injera” in the sun, the “Kebele” officials have given her warning redundantly and asked from where she came and why she was working here, and in addition to all the above burdens, in the absence of employees and when the light goes out she is the one who covers the gap. The other issue most of the time raised by her as a challenge is the increment of input prices, especially “Teff”. She would often get upset and say that she would come out with a lot of money and buy only a few things. She said “In short, I am delivering my money to a merchant and our money has lost its value.” Her business capital is estimated to be around 300,000 ETB.
ID: ET516 (Carpentry):
Fetsum is my respondent involved in his current business since 2002 E.C. after he has completed his grade 12.  Primarily he was an employee for another firm; in 2008 E.C. he opened his own business with the initial capital of money outsourced from his father as a gift and the money he has deposited during his employment period. He is still now not able to get a loan. He is a father of 2 children and has a wife. His sole income source is his current business and if he will have better capital, he has a plan to expand his current business, but he completely does not have a plan to involve in other works. On average his monthly income is estimated around 20,000 ETB, from this income he is paying 9000 ETB for his 2 employees and 1000 ETB for house rent. His work place is found inside his relatives’ compound just at one corner of it and he built the structure wall and roof by corrugated iron. For the reason the roof has holes so product damage has happened many times to him.
All in all, we can say he led hand to mouse income system with no profit. Business license was issued for his older sister Etenesh, but she doesn’t have a benefit from the business directly or indirectly.
They provide health services like clinical services, full laboratory services, X-ray services etc. This respondent is an engineer and she opened the clinic with her husband. She always record all her transaction on the notebook we gave her. Most specifically, she is always in the clinic. So today when we have arrived, she was with her receptionist working on something and she welcomed us warmly and brought her notebook right away, and while we were filling her transaction, she wasn’t happy by her income it was just 1530 birr, 400birr, 2535birr etc. which is too low. Her income and expense are not balancing, people are coming just for getting X-ray, it’s because her husband is Radiologist. She was thinking of closing the clinic if it keeps on being like this.
Today we are going to share a story of our two female respondents.
The first respondent (ET316) is 23 years old and she is a married young woman working with her husband in their own tailor business. They are our dedicated respondents who are hard workers and have created job opportunities for more than ten workers and they are actively involved as employees. Even though our respondents were doing very well in our previous stay, we received a phone call from them informing us that they had suspended their work indefinitely due to the many challenges they are now facing. The main reason for this problem is lack of a demand for their products and as we understood from their transaction and they also told us, high cost and lack of income are the main reasons. This is because they have spent a lot of money on their previous work experience to buy raw materials, to produce a lot of products and then deliver it to a permanent distributers, but now there is no one to receive their products and nothing has been sold yet. From now on, until the situation in the country improves and until the coming election season will pass peacefully, they will be forced to suspend work for a while. The employees also believed on the situation and accept the owner’s decision and to wait for the firm to open again without payment. She is also sure that she will share us her weekly experiences for the coming idle time.
Our other respondent (ET256) is 41 years old and a female owner in Laundry business. A mother of one, she is a  woman who is fully engaged in her work, but recently left her job for two months due to a serious injury to her leg. She was attending a medical center. When she returned home, we went to her house and we did the first two rounds. Now, a week ago, she returned to work because she had to return to work even though she had not fully recovered. She told us that she did not do her job as before because many customers left her due to her staff not doing well when she was not there. She also told us that most of the clothes were lost that had been given by her customers and that the owners were still asking her to pay for the clothes, which was another loss. Although she had a hard time saying these things at the time, she clearly explained everything regardless of her illness. 
The Bread Bakery Concept started 17 years back from now. At that time the respondent was a grade 12 student and she had no any personal income, but her husband has been a civil servant. After she completed grade 12 she planed to open her own business. Then she was able to open her own bread bakery. Initially, she took 5000 birr from her husband and rented house from the government and started the baking business by using fire wood. Then, when she understood the benefits of the business, she planned to expand it and took a Credit from Developmental Bank of Ethiopia in addition to the saving she gained from the business. She bought some machinery used for bakery. Then after, the income generated from bread sale highly maximized. The bread production and selling is increasing from time to time. And  currently, on average her gross daily income from bread bakery is 6500 birr. Now she bought a car which has an importance to distribute breads for customers. She has hired 6 employees working fulltime and  paid 30,000 birr per month. The respondent critically face a challenge with the increasing cost of a raw materials. The other thing is that her husband is also a merchant and works his trade business between Ethiopia and Dubai, sometimes his income get mixed with her business and that challenges her and she wants to separate it. She is among the cooperative respondents of mine for data collection.
Woman’s sewing service (ET725):
This firm belongs to one my best respondents. The owner’s name is Mefitu Mohamed, he is married and has 3 children. Before starting this  business, he was driving minibus from Harar to Dire Dawa (which is about 55 kms in between). He started his business as soon as he completed 12th grade, but he was not very effective in this work. 
So that, he began to think about his current business because his previous work made him unprofitable. My respondent’s father was a tailor and he grew up working with him since he was a child and he has always planned to join this business and considered it as he will be effective. He started his current business in 2009 G.C., by using as initial capital his sold minibus and his personal saved money. He got around 100,000 birr as a monthly income and pay around 46,000 birr for his 7 employees. Of course, the number of employees reduced during the no work period and he also pays 200 birr for house rent (it is cheap it’s provided by the the government). He is happy with this work, but still there are some problems not solved. For instance, the employees are not dedicated on the job and often they spent most of their time on chewing khat and do not finish their task allocated for on time and also power outages disrupt the daily work. However, he plans to grow this business.
Today let me share story of my strongest respondent who is engaged in sewing female cloths work (ET359).
His age is 35 ,married and has 3 children. He started this work in 2014. Since he is sewing female clothes, most of his customers are  females. He has many customers and the relationship he has with customers is like a family. As he told me, many customers choose him because of two things: first one is that he keeps appointment dates of customers order and second one is that he gives quality service with low price. Every week on Saturday his daily income increases twice than other days. This happens because of the availability of many customers from Mojo, Awash, Welenciti and Dera. One interesting thing he does every day is that he saves 70 birr per day from his daily income to cover his work place rent cost. If his sewing machine gets problem he doesn’t call to a mechanic but instead repairs it by him self since he is a mechanic. He also gives a service to others if their machine gets problem. While working his business, he was facing electric power problem but now he had fixed this problem by buying a generator . He has 2 workers and he is working hard to improve his business. 
ET641 is in a leather production sector.
She is 25 years old who has IT diploma and she will graduate this year in Marketing Management. She is the sole owner of the firm. When she was young, her mom used to buy a leather shoe from Addis Ababa and sell it in Adama city, and after she grew up, she want to own something, since her mother is a business women she wanted to be like her mother (she wanted to follow her foot step) and in Adama there were a competition in micro and small enterprise. Only young adults were the ones who participated in the competition and she won and at that time, she got the opportunity to work in a garment sector. There were a facility back then but her passion was to work on leather products, her mother inspired her, even the smell of the leather reminded her of her mother, that is how much she wanted it. 
She enquired the micro and small enterprise to give her a place for a start-up, this is when the challenge began. There were some personal problems and the enterprise asked her to pay a 30,000 birr as a corruption so that they will give her a fine place but she refused to pay. There were no respond for eight months from them, they were wasting her time, one of the manager even harassed her; he tried to negotiate with her sexually, whenever this thing happened she used to record their conversation as an evidence. A year passed and finally she showed the evidence to the manger himself; she told him that if he doesn’t give her the place which she deserves to get, she will show it to the main office, and like it was unexpected they were shaken and gave her a place right away. When she started the business, there was no profit, she was disappointed. Back then she used to produce leather shoes and one shoes cost 300birr but she was force to sale 50birr per shoes because of her loss. Even she was unable to pay salary for her employees. But she hasn’t given up and she purchased some machines, after that there was this Young Adult Fund where she borrowed 400,000 birr for the business. She still hasn’t finished paying the loan yet. And it’s been two years since she got the place, now she is in a good condition, her business is going smoothly. She has 13 employees now. She is preparing few sample bags which are really gorgeous to send it to France soon. So she is working hard to achieve her dream.
Story of a respondent with ID:ET736:
He is 32 years old and single martial status. He is engaged in liquid soaps and detergent production business. Operates the business using a small powder mixer, liquid mixer and two large powder mixer. At the time we first met him, he was busy and inside his car, as well as wanted to drive fast. Thus we approached to decide he may be unwilling to continue but what happened was to the contrary, he allowed much more time even by asking clarification about L-IFT research company, our role and objectives as well as the way forward after the study was completed rather than hurrying us to complete the interview. Two weeks ago he become sick but now he has recovered and doing ok.
He also has faced shortage of two important materials, which are imported from the rest of the world for the production of liquid detergent named “Lafisa” and “Asls”. He acquires these materials from suppliers but now they are not responding to him even though he requested frequently for supply. As one of his workers said, “these materials are key to every liquid soap producers so the reason for this shortage is that producers try to scramble these ingredients for current and future use.”
ET737 own carpentry with her husband around Figa:
They made kitchen Cabinet, door, bed, TV stand, table and other wood products. She is the manager and also worker for her carpentry. She spent most of her time on her business. She has a vision to expand her business and employ more workers. Last year, their business were cool by the case of corona outbreak. During that time, the number of their customers were sharply declining. As a result, their business operated at a breakeven. But after September, the number of their customers started to increase. Like other carpenters, sustainable price increment is a headache for her business. According to her explanation, as the price of input products increases they couldn’t impose all price increment on their products, rather their business cover more than half of price increment so as to  not to loss their customers. This in turn decreases her business profit margin. If the price increases like this, the number of their customers might decrease sharply and their business might not be profitable. 
The current election is also another risk for her business. According to her, the current election might create instability and force them to stop their business. Regardless of the above mentioned challenges and risks, she works tirelessly for the growth of  their business.
DD-ET-1918 (Wood Work) 
“Due to the high extent of my problem, I was seriously thinking the way-out from it and self-sufficiency. Problem created a solution and the solution created this job. It was 2002, my foster grandmother died and I was forced to quit my education from grade 10 and got recruited after looking for a job.”
He was an employee for 10 years and he had had many workloads. Even though, he worked as a daily laborer, he saw no progress in his life. In 2012 he decided to start his own business and rented an iron sheet house, but he had no materials to work with and had lack of confidence even to seat and wait for customers in his business center. He watched the situation of the business by seating in neighbor’s shop and while new clients visited for the business area, he communicated them just to have an introduction with them. He was familiar with the security guards of the Kebele where he rented his business house. The security guards brought materials from their home for repair to introduce his skill to other clients and to build-up his confidence; they mainly concerned to do so, others to provided order by observing his talent. It was in this manner he introduced his talent for customers. 
He passed through many obstacles to reach today. When he was talking to me about one of his memories, the owner of the iron sheet house from whom he has rented the house from, told him as she wants to leave the place and advised him to replace his own iron sheet secretly after she pulls out. According to her advice, illegally he replaced the old iron sheet with the new one, during midnight. The legal bodies suspected him for an illegal iron sheet house construction and accused him for no license. They then gave him a summons and stood him before the court. The judge read him as he is sued by working without a license and for constructing an illegal house at the center of the town.
“I tried to justify with full of tears as I am a needy and responsible person to administer my household, yet, the judge told me that i was supposed to inform the legal bodies before anything and sentenced a penalty on me. I was shocked when the judge ordered me to pay a fine of 300,000 ETB. People around me realized that she was joking, and they laughed at me. Finally the judge ordered me to pay a fine of 300 ETB and ordered my accusers to prepare for me a business license. After I gained my business license, I became confident and also my business started to grow up. Honestly speaking, it was the only source of my livelihood for my family.”
He got an opportunity for credit from Dire Dawa town Credit and Saving Association to expand his business. After he worked there for some while, the Road Authority demanded his location for road construction and dislocated him from there to his current location in front of the Kebele where his current business is located until replacement. The Kebele leader was a very kind person and allowed for him to construct on the wide area. Even though he was challenged to start his own business, he is now profitable. Within a year of starting the business, he bought the sawmill machine for 18,000 ETB.  He additionally told me that, he had bought a variety of woodworking tools and a Force Bajaj. Now he has reached more than 230,000 ETB capital.
He is married and has 4 children schooling them in private school. He is a role model person by his work and has recruited 2 employees under him. He has planned to expand his business, but he doesn’t have a household member to support him to do so. One of his children hadn’t promoted to university and at the same time he is not interested in his father’s job and not ready to involve. This thing has disappointed and made this respondent angry.