My supervisor and I at this furniture production firm yesterday met the firm owner and his diligent employee who has been away for school in good spirits as the latter is available for another 3 weeks on some academic break.
The firm owner lamented in the Attitude to and Adoption of the Technology Survey session that his loss of the phone token from L-IFT some weeks ago has thwarted his plans toward learning from and maximizing the gains of the internet and smartphone technology.
In keeping up with his wide acclaim of being the man who makes something out of nothing in the production cluster, he gladly filled my supervisor and me in on the practical workings of his latest improvisation; a crude yet faster blade-looking sand-papering and surface smoothing system involving well-glued sandpaper and wood circular sections firmly clamped to his circular sawing machine when in use and operated electronically as seen below.
According to him, this system is much faster and easier, and was born this week out of necessity; his fairly used machine vendor still has not delivered his locally made electronic sand-papering unit, and he is dissatisfied with most of the work done by some casual laborers he’d engaged.
He also disclosed that he’s still thinking of his next line of improvisation.
Sadly, he had sustained another deep cut on the same finger as the last deep injury he’d nursed and complained of having complete numbness on that finger in recent days.
During one of my visits to this firm, we were trying to reconcile payments from customers owing the school. The admin officer made me realize that sometimes when parents pay up their pending balance the school tends to waive or deduct some amount from the initial school fees. For example, if the student’s fees are N50k (113 USD) per term and the student doesn’t take some subjects like French or doesn’t partake in sports activities; when the parent is balancing up they deduct the fees for that particular subject or activity from the balance while the parent pays the remaining part. Sometimes they give them discounts too. That’s why we sometimes have some balance not cleared. Presently the firm is on a second-term break.
At this palm kernel oil production firm yesterday, the owner lamented a fall in demand for both residual cake and sludge as according to her, most regular visitors for the product haven’t visited in recent days, citing the current saturation of products in the cluster.
She noted that if the trend persisted, she would, like some of her colleagues, have to cut her losses by letting residue harden, to be used as fuel for production.
Last week when I visited this firm, I glimpsed the employee who takes charge of the firm while the owner isn’t around was not around. I asked him to know why he was absent. The firm owner said “since he collected last month’s salary he stopped coming to work without notice. This is his usual way but he doesn’t understand and he hopes that he returns just like he does” Up until the last day of my visit to the firm, this employee has not returned…
This firm’s secretary that used to provide me with FT as instructed by the firm owner has stopped working at the firm to further her studies.
Good thing I met him on Saturday, he said he is in talks with people who can help him find another secretary and another worker (an ironer).
He complained bitterly that his customers don’t treat his business as they should, saying if his business was as big or was at the standard he planned, they would not treat his business without regard.
He mentioned that his customers who are mostly returning customers find it hard to pay for their services or pay late. Some of them had been with him since he started his business and even referred most of his current customers to him and because of the relationship, he finds it hard to take certain actions with them. He made a reference to a customer who just collected his clothes on 16/04/2022 since August 19, 2020, that he gave his clothes to the firm for their services. He said he had told his employees that if it wasn’t for the fact that he is into another business, he would have been owing them regularly.
He mentioned that there is an increase in the cost of buying their raw materials like glass nylon for packing. It used to be N2100 for the big one but is now N3200, and the smaller size that used to be N1700 is now N2200.
He said that the current place where his shop is has been bought and they have all been told to leave. He said the former landlord has refused to give him the money he used to renovate the shop when he first rented it and that the new owner has taken everyone that is still in the already sold property to Human Rights, saying he wants them all out by the end of May 2022. The firm owner said they’re asking for time till June 2022.
The new landlord has disconnected the building from using power except they use their individual generator set. While at it, he is looking for another space for his business, he said he already told property agents to help with that.
The respondent in this laundry firm, a jolly good fellow, is always enthusiastic to answer Survey questions, habitually detailed with his Financial transaction records.
On my last visit to this firm, he told me of his plans to relocate to Abuja, he said he has secured a job with an ICT company where he will be earning N90,000 (203 USD) monthly.
According to him, this move is highly necessary because of the growing financial needs of his family which lately he cannot satisfy.
He assured me that the business is not closing down and in his absence, the Secretary will avail us with all Financial transaction records as well as responses to Survey questions. He will be moving to Abuja by the end of this month of April.
The manager is still around and In charge, he intends to leave by end of this month. While he is gone his secretary will manage the business
I am sure we all are now familiar with my agricultural production respondent (bird flu). I am glad to say today I visited him and he was glad to tell me that the birds are now steady and have no mortality again. I can say that when the birds saw me they were excited and ran towards me saying thanks for praying for us and I now feel good. Thank you all for the good wishes too. He plans on buying another set of birds soon.
This is the bakery firm that had been talking about closing up. When I contacted her last week she did not take my calls, then she sent a message saying; “I’m safe now, don’t worry.” Then she later called me and we fixed an appointment, then she gave me her financial transactions this morning she said “hello” and sent me pictures of cakes and some loafs bread she baked from her home. She said she wants to work from home for now while she works on her relocation plans as managing the shop was not helping her and she was not sure if her workers were extorting her.
Attached are the pictures she sent me today.
On visiting this firm last week, I observed he had given his products a “brand” with different sizes to serve customers’ demands, different from the regular sizes he produces unbranded. I asked if his customers were buying despite the price, and he said they do buy but sometimes the bakery doesn’t give him the capacity to cut to his specific sizes but he manages the few he can get each day.
During my visit to this firm on Easter break to collect his FT, I met a crowd of customers in front of his milling firm that other people could hardly pass through. I found my way to make eye contact so he could give me his Record book. He caught a glimpse of me while he handed over the book for me to capture his FT. I captured his FTs and returned his record book. Fast forward to last Friday, I had ample time to discuss with the firm owner. We talked about his busy days then he replied that one shouldn’t be that busy every time as it would reduce the human life span. In between our conversations, I asked if he had paid his shop rent which was pending, and he happily replied and told me how he had cleared his pending loan while he took another loan, added some money to it then finally paid his shop’s rent. I got all the detailed information on the date loan was taken and the amount. It was a productive visit to this firm.
Today I found out one of my respondents left the structure where her firm was and is now working from home. She said she needed a new place and will be operating from home for now.
Her house is not located on our map and she asked if she will be dropped when I finally found her house. I told her I don’t know even though it will be a bit stressful for me to have to go to her location but will let her know what the office decides.
It was exciting to hear that my respondent has started a new business from the N5000 (11.3 USD) she has been receiving from L-IFT.
I remember she told me how she wished to start selling soft drinks and sachet water but had no capital. So she said she saved up the N10000 she had received so far and with a fridge, she already had started this business recently. I was glad that we already have a success story from the incentives received.
This firm makes handmade shoes.
His firm used to have so many shoes on display but he has complained about how the prices of products in the market have made the products a bit more expensive than before and students may not be able to afford them in the future.
However, he still gets small contracts to make a large number of pairs for individuals that sell retail outside the school and state.
He has been asking if he will get some sort of financial support from L-IFT to boost his business but as always I remind him that lift does not give loans or grants.
I have been calling and visiting this respondent for an interview but he has not been around for precisely four weeks. Two weeks ago he lost his daughter and today I called him for our normal interview hoping that we are going to meet him together with FM but he informed me that he lost his brother it really sad.
This respondent is into carpentry work. I visited him today for our usual Tuesday interview. During the interview, he showed me the item he bought with the incentive he received from L-IFT. He was very happy and grateful to L-IFT for this opportunity.
The Epileptic supply of Electricity has been a major challenge for this Tailoring firm. The firm owner complained about how stressful it is for her these days in meeting up with deadlines for customers’ clothes because she needs electricity for stone work on the clothes she makes.
When I and FM visited her yesterday, she and some apprentices had to excuse themselves to go do some stonework on some customers’ dresses in her house because there was electricity at home. She said this has been the stress she faces these days.
It gladdens my heart to see this respondent back on her feet again after the loss of her little baby.
So I visited her today and she was able to give me a detailed report of Financial Transactions and we also did those survey questions she missed when her daughter was ill.
The firm owner during the attitude to and adoption of Technology and special events survey session on Saturday did emphasize how that the survey has let him see the need to fully embrace online advertisement of his products on all online platforms he’s a part of, including sampling some nice products of his close colleagues on his wall with a view to earning some commission on any successes.
It was a long and rewarding session with my respondent yesterday at this rice destoning and packaging factory as she gave insights on a lot of business-related issues thanks to the survey sessions.
In the special events session, she complained sadly about issues with their processing machine throughout the Easter season resulting in so many daily expenses on parts welding, maintenance, and even change-out, notwithstanding slightly lower process volumes compared to the same season last year; a result of mass travels this season, in her words.
She disclosed that paucity of funds and slow business this season had stalled the firm’s roof completion plans for the new factory while indicating that their destoners association’s recent meeting had helped with uniformly stamping the new price regime across all firms. Even though as she observed, a smaller neighboring firm had deliberately reduced the price by N50 per bushel last week to entice her customers, an act he couldn’t sustain due to continuous rising operational costs.
The price of the scarce stapling thread she just purchased is up N11,000 (25 USD) from N8,500 (19.3 USD) in January, while diesel is up by N4000 (9 USD) in a space of 2 weeks, to an all-time high of N17000 (38.5 USD) per 30-liter gallon and its scarcity has made them completely resort to a black market supplier.
I also observed new notices pasted everywhere to inform customers of pricing and no credit issues as she disclosed giving discounts to only 1 customer who brings bulk goods.
She also disclosed having recent employee issues, with 1 employee traveling to take care of his sick mom, and another being on and off, and she mentioned she added a new female employee (against the firm’s all-male policy) due to constant pleas by the employee’s guardian. In her words, female the employee is showing the right attitude to the demanding work.
She indicated having supply chain challenges as the highly sought-after mama’s pride and tomato gold packaging bags haven’t been shipped into Nigeria from China in over a month as corroborated by 2 of her suppliers.
On the plus side, I met one of the firm’s regular customers and after explaining, my respondent was helpful in convincing him to consent to the customer survey which I duly administered.
My interview session at this medical laboratory was observed by the visiting NBS staff.
My respondent though partly grateful, decried a very slow April, in her words, slower than March, looking back at the month; this she attributed to the ongoing strike of public universities, Enugu’s of which is not far off and forming the crux of firm’s walk-in customers.
She revealed having settled to pay salaries on the 27th because it is better to risk a deficit account thanks to loan servicing which is due on the 28th of every month than owe salaries.
I had also met the firm’s most regular business customers insisting on a new discount regime which is to the detriment of the firm.
In his words, he now wants to earn N1800 (4 USD) for every N3000 (6.8 USD) worth of business he brings firm.
It was mixed feelings as she was grateful for having saved up for rent due by May while expressing her displeasure at being unable to earn a salary up until now.
The firm’s marketer is currently hypertensive and according to the owner, she’ll be laid off in May if she can’t resume work.
At this kernel sludge oil processing factory, I had observed quietly during my interview session as my respondent expressed her displeasure for over 10-minutes at her regular business customer who after buying processed product yesterday on part credit unusually, with a promise to come in later with balance, had reneged on his promise and come only with partial balance amount below her expectation.
Her emotions were further heightened when the pot seller/craftsman who mended production pots came around and waited on standby to get the remaining balance of his wages.