My respondent in this firm is the admin officer who provides all FTs on a weekly basis and answers survey questions. When the formalization survey, aspirations survey, decision-making survey, etc were introduced, my able admin officer was stuck as he couldn’t give accurate answers. Then he told me the school consultant will be in the best position to answer. Long story short, I met with the consultant last Tuesday and it was a long meeting of more than three hours. The consultant welcomed me intimating to him the objectives of the survey and the benefits. He took his time to answer all questions and also briefed me on how the formalization of schools works, and the different association that serves as a mediator when issues relating to teachers, parents, and school comes up. This association takes it up with the support of its legal team to ensure peace. He also made me realize that the school business is capital-intensive and comes with its own challenges. From parents that won’t pay their children’s fees and still end up taking the children to another school without clearing their debts to the ones that won’t pay at all. The list is endless. He shared his several qualifications and certifications with me and I had to ask him why he didn’t own a school. He said his age is a barrier coupled with financial support but he finally Said: “not everyone will own a business”. He said that he uses his certification for start-ups to aid their registration and he charges them for that. This is also business for him and he is happy doing it. After our long meeting, this man asked that we close the meeting with prayers, which I obliged to.
I visited this firm yesterday. It is a bakery firm.
This respondent talked about how she would like that she is told how she has been doing in business since when we started the project. She even said she was telling her employees a few days back that she might come one day and decide to close the firm and that she is literally struggling to keep the firm afloat, considering the high of raw materials in the market, high cost of running the firm, and how annoying different local government agencies under different umbrella keep disturbing her for payment of all sorts. She said fumigating services came last week and she just told them to leave her firm because she was angry, first for their poor services (she said their fumigation does not kill the smallest of roaches and it should be done quarterly) and how bad business is now.
FS, FR2, and I visited this firm. It has been shut down for a long time due to the CEO’s ill health. The firm is now open for business. The firm provides nutritional alternatives to solving health problems. We were shown an array of different products such as herbal teas, naturally formulated Spices, ingredients, and oil (i.e Neem and coconut oil). The Respondent is so passionate about her business as she educates us on her products. She went on to tell us how she gets her Coconut supplies from Ghana. A bag of Coconut comes with approximately 75 pieces of Coconut and she extracts 8 bottles (500ML) of Coconut oil from a bag.
She told us of her plans to start producing natural herbal capsules for healing purposes.
This week has been characterized by difficulty in transportation, which is occasioned by an inadequate supply of petroleum products(fuel). This has caused a 100% hike in transport fares. Not only that, vehicles are inadequate. This is because transport operators wait long hours in queues aiming to get fuel. This situation has placed commuters at the receiving end. FR2 and I had our fair share of these difficult times: we set out for work (to visit respondents) on this fateful day which seem like a normal day. We ended up walking a long distance to meet up with our appointment., We were lucky to have met two respondents. We were now left with the third and the farthest. All efforts to reach her on phone before going to her place proved abortive. After our long-distance walk to her place (a fashion designer), we met her absence because she has other work engagements outside her business, hence we had to wait around because we were told she won’t be gone for long. Finally, she came back and we got her FT report and administered survey questions. It’s been a hell of a week for us in Kaduna. However, we still managed against the odds to get the job done but sincerely it’s been a Herculean Task.
The respondent makes leather slippers and sandals. He said the issue of fuel scarcity and price increase of fuel has made him reduce the number of hours he turns on his generator every day. NBS also visited but were late so met us to conclude the surveys
My supervisor and I had quite a session with my respondent into wood sawing and furniture production today.
A brief history, the firm owner who is enlightened and very cheerful about his profession always had a keen interest in woodwork since junior secondary school and followed up with his passion by obtaining a polytechnic diploma in the field and starting the business in April 2008.
Last week his remaining employee who has been on from apprenticeship had to leave for higher education, opting to further in the same field of learning. The firm owner disclosed it hasn’t been an easy time without him, implying he’s going to be outsourcing some of the casual labor jobs to offset some stress.
To the business of the day, he started out after financial reporting narrating his experience last Tuesday excitedly. According to him, he had carvings of dimensioned patterns to make on the medium-density fiberboard (MDF). He was working urgently which he had never done manually. He got disappointed the machine wood carver was unavailable to help out and on second thought, he ended up painstakingly carving relevant sections manually to his surprise. Even neighbor owners in the cluster who saw him work were very surprised at his very smooth finished product, albeit done manually. His take-home regardless of time spent was the humble feeling of having to successfully learn/try a process he has never tried after 30 years in woodwork.
He did lament the rising cost of wood-based materials, especially ones which have added over 20% inflation this February. According to him, the Edo state government had a row with the timber leadership and had to place an embargo on production in the Okomu forest reserve which resulted in a sharp increase in the prices of raw materials.
For his last wardrobe production job, he highlighted minimal profit as according to him, he was unhappy using costly MDF, when he would have spent far less were it normal wood.
He talked about his latest improvised technique in trying to manage the challenge of needing some basic work machines, which involved having sandpaper installed on a secondhand electric motor he was expecting, which he was capable of using in place of an automated jack plane.
The special events survey presented new insights as he admitted having to leave home as early as 5:30 am on recent sit-at-home days so as to get to the firm by 6:30 am. That way, he gets to meet up with production especially for now he’s operating alone; thankfully, the firm is in a large production cluster which is safe from IPOB’S incursion, meaning he gets to work till 6 pm when the transit resumes and achieve more on recent sit at home days, other than idling away at home with increased work.
It was quite a session as I took time to administer the surveys too.
This is one of the firms I complained about in our last biweekly meeting about getting her full attention for interviews because of how busy her business is. Our meeting day used to be Thursday but she suggested we switch to Wednesday so she can give me the attention I need but nothing has changed. Sometimes I conduct half an interview and complete it on my subsequent visit. It has been like this since October. When the MD came during her visit to Nigeria together with the FM, they had a fair share of this experience.
She’s into photocopy, printing, typesetting, passport, and the like. Because her firm is beside a commercial bank she’s often busy and the sad thing is that she doesn’t feel she needs a helping Hand (Employee).
She has continued to rely on Apprentices and they often don’t spend more than 2 months before they leave. On the different occasions of my visits, customers literally queue to get services. She doesn’t believe the business is doing so well to hire an employee.
Because of her busyness, she said it’s not possible for her to document transactions as there come in so she aggregates her daily sales at the end of the day and does not necessarily separate her customer type. I have been working on her information that a larger percentage of her customers are repeat customers.
In the special event survey- Asking if she has had new customers in the last two weeks, it’s difficult for her to know exact numbers, and wouldn’t know if some customers stopped patronizing her.
To enable me to cope with her, I get FT on Wednesday, and whenever there are interviews I come the following (Thursday) before 9 am so I can get her attention at least but it hasn’t been easy. Thursdays in Lagos is an environmental day set aside for cleaning the business premises and your compound. Business owners are expected to observe this and so businesses open from 10 am. Failure to adhere to this attracts a fine. So on Thursday, I went in the morning as I had earlier discussed with her and discovered she opened her business to attend to customers who came to snap passports. It wasn’t 10 am yet and behold the Lagos state Environmental team came in and locked her shop for violating the rule.
The courage to wait and have an interview with her left me because her countenance changed. She was booked for a fine.
I left the same way I came.
I visited this firm on Friday. He is into carpentry.
The firm owner has been dedicated to this project since we started and even during the interview he keeps all his records. But he keeps complaining to me that his material and working tools are always missing but he will use this method of keeping his records and also check what is left each day after closing of business so as to know if he has been the one mixing up things.
So last week Friday I visited him for the interview as usual when he told me that he caught the person stealing from the firm and that one of his employees has been the one. He also told me that he caught him before and gave him the grace to change but he continued to steal so he was left with no choice but to sack him on Friday.
I visited this milling firm yesterday to record the financial transaction as usual. But the firm owner doesn’t seem happy, so when I asked what the problem is, he told me that one of his employees who got married four months ago lost his wife as a result of Ectopic pregnancy. And the other employee of his had an accident which led to an injury on his leg.
So the whole situation doesn’t seem okay to him, hence he is left with no choice but to do the work alone.
Reaching out to this firm over the phone was difficult last week, so I decided to visit the firm owner after several attempts.
She told me that her phone was stolen when some of her friends visited her house. So when she saw me passing by yesterday, called me to say that she has done her Sim welcome back and that I can now reach her over the phone that L-IFT gave to her.
This firm was affected by bird flu ravage last year which made her sell some of her birds whilst the rest died. She told me they would be allowed to bring in new birds in January/February this year.
Today she told me she is struggling to gather funds because starting afresh is difficult: the old structure would be pulled down and the entire renovation would be done, getting new cages and birds. She said she doesn’t want to change her line of business as she’s used to agricultural production. She asked if L-IFT can help and I reiterated that our organization does not give out loans or any fund support.
It was a very rewarding session this afternoon at this firm into carpentry and furniture production as the firm owner cheerfully hosted the FM, my supervisor, and me, even leaving his on-hand production throughout the 1-hour session.
The firm owner, though constrained by a current lack of employees, gladly talked about improvements in record keeping since the study began, which has transcended all of his business, even to his family life, to the admiration of his wife and children.
He indicated plans to open a new location that will serve as both a comprehensive showroom and workshop in the Agbani town of Enugu where he resides, in his quest to tap into the thriving furniture retail market over there, thanks to a booming student presence. This plan according to him is more rewarding than his current mainly wholesale market.
On the flip side, the firm owner sadly narrated a theft incident on Monday night in which he was robbed of the phone token from L-IFT as he solicited help in tracking the device for possible recovery.
Regardless, it was a rewarding session on the whole with the firm owner enthusiastically answering questions from me, the FM, and my supervisor.
This respondent and her sister are co-owners of a tailoring business. The respondent said this February has been duller than other years. She was also happy to get the exchanged phone.
The firm owner is a pig farmer in one of the two piggery clusters under study. She is in a habit of giving names to her pigs. Today, I was introduced to Blessing; a big female pig (height is almost half my height). The firm owner said she has been on her farm for 2 years now and has given birth to a set of 10-12 piglets on four occasions. She was named Blessing because she is fruitful and has brought many financial blessings to the farmer.
Today at the medical laboratory, the Firm owner in a relaxed and happy mood expressed her delight at the output of her new employees thus far who she extolled for being more detailed in recording while bringing their computer literacy skills to bear in the area of digital record keeping, which she painstakingly handled before now; offsetting some of her stress.
She lamented a dip in power supply from the grid in recent days and indicated having to work longer hours recently due to the firm’s new shift pattern.
I asked why her working hours had increased and she indicated that the opportunity of running a daily 2 shifts working system meant she had to work beyond 6 pm, thereby increasing her work-related logistics and feeding expense.
On the plus side, she is intensifying meeting clients and outdoor advertisements in the hope of gains due to increased patronage subsequently.
This respondent is into printing, content writing, and graphic design.
Sometime last month he got a new shop so he can move his business to another location because his former shop/building was sold out to a developer and they’ve been served quit notice. He’s yet to move all his assets from the former shop and he’s yet to develop fully his current shop. Just a few things he moved to his new shop.
We meet every Tuesday, sometimes in his former shop and sometimes in the new shop. All I have to do is put a call and board a bike to meet him. But since the beginning of this month, he’s been behaving like black and white TV. The last time we met was the 2nd of February since then he hardly picks up my calls. Sometimes he will promise me to come and whenever I do I will meet his absence. It has been a difficult time for me. These past weeks, his shops in both locations have been locked and the distance is not a stone’s throw. In both phone calls and WhatsApp chats, he has not been responding.
I visited this firm yesterday to collect data for 3 weeks. At the time I was supposed to meet with them they were on mid-term break.
As I visited yesterday, I saw some changes I felt I should share pictorially.
It is good news on this respondent’s delivery van has been refurbished. About three weeks ago the firm owner informed me about repairing his car and spending so much fund. He lamented every week when I visited how the expense has been gulping his money but thankfully the car is having a good outlook. He asked me if L-IFT can support him financially as he is overwhelmed with expenses and other challenges. Last week he complained bitterly about how he uses another business owner’s delivery van to sort his bulk deliveries while his car was still at the automobile repair shop. He said the van has a high fuel consumption compared to his own car. As if that was not enough, he mistakenly hit the backlight of the van which he had to replace, which cost him so much. Any scratch that happens to the van he will have to repair simply because it doesn’t belong to him. He complained bitterly and I felt pity for him then I encouraged him to be careful while driving the van to avoid scratches or dents. Then I also assured him that everything will be fine with time and that he should keep his head up. Below is the pic of his not yet finished revamped car.
Most of the time I get to interview the manager of this firm but on the first visit, you will think she owns the business as she delivers on her job passionately. For some survey questions that she can’t answer we direct them to the firm owner. Recently on the use of technology survey, I had to interview the firm owner who was receptive. She opened up on the challenges they have using software for record-keeping and having to train and retrain staff for effective usage coupled with the risk of exposing their business transactions to staff. She also talked about how their business page on Facebook was hacked and they can’t access the page but they are working on signing up afresh after losing that page to hackers. The business is also working on registering its products with NAFDAC which is a sort of expansion for them.
At the time we started SFD this firm had just kicked off operations. We literally started together. The firm owner has a full-time job but at that time he was working full-time remotely, which gave him more time to spend at his firm. He was always ready to answer our survey questions and also provide FTs until the beginning of this year when the call to resume physically on his full-time job happened. Prior to this time, he discussed moving the production dept of the business to another location while the present business location will serve as a pick-up point. Last Friday he responded to all my long WhatsApp messages and we were able to attend to about three surveys. He intimated to me about the expansion of his business location during the interview. He also mentioned that he might need to give me access to their accounting software so there won’t be delays in updating my weekly FTs. I still look forward to meeting him physically soon as he always updates me on the progress and challenges of the firm.