I gave the respondent his phone last week and he was in shock. When I went for our scheduled interview today he had written all his records and was waiting for me. He told me how he was surprised that L-IFT gave him a phone for free. He told me he couldn’t drink water all day because he couldn’t believe it. In his words, “No one has ever given me anything this expensive for free!”. I was happy he appreciated it and said to thank the sponsors of the research.
This particular firm was one of the firms that had begun keeping records since intake and was lucky to be selected after some people declined to be part of the research. When we started the special event survey she asked that I list all the sections of accounting, sales, people management, etc so she can start doing that every day because she believes it will help her and was not happy that she didn’t have much to say in the previous survey. Today I noticed she was smiling and replying that she did almost everything on the list. She told me how she wants to benefit so much from this survey and knows she will develop some positive habits by the end of the survey.
I am sure you remember this firm owner with the new signpost. She does seem to amaze me every week. On getting to her firm last Wednesday which was our meeting day, I saw a new signpost of her POS business. In my mind, I said, “This woman is not here to play.” She welcomed me and we started the business for the day. I assigned two of her apprentices to keep daily records and I taught them how to do this for each of the income sources. One of the apprentices had put in for computer school which means she gets to the shop in the afternoon and she has not been able to keep track of records. I had to assign another apprentice who will be available full-time. I presented her phone to her and she was filled with joy. She read the agreement letter and said, “Even if we want to continue the research till 2022, I will respond. If I move from here to another place I will give you the new address.” As I was busy recording her financial transactions, she just said, “Ahh my sister, you remember the woman I told you I lent N150,000 (395.5 USD) two years ago. She just called me out of the blue and paid N20,000 (48 USD).” I said, “Wow, this is good news.” Then she said, “Good things have been happening since you started this project. Thank you for choosing me.”
It was an eventful day with this firm last Friday. I got in there and met a customer who asked me a series of questions as to what our research was about. I took my time explaining to the curious old man and he didn’t stop at one question. I also didn’t give up answering him. I took the diary to check for weekly records as the firm owner was not on his seat at this time. I asked one of his staff why the record was not up to date and he said the staff assigned to record had not been coming to work. Finally, the firm owner arrived and our old man was attended to and he left. I approached the firm owner while he was working on making a shoe. I then asked him about the types of customers that visit his store on a daily basis and how he can help us specify those customers on their records. Prior to this time they usually record the name of each of their customer in the diary. He said it would be difficult to keep track of the types of customers that patronize them because his staff that usually keeps the records has stopped coming to work since he got paid his salary on the 6th of November. He said he left without any reason and now they have put out vacancy posts to employ other staff. He also said since he left he has been the one recording financial transaction anytime he has the time and when he is around. He made me realize that they have more repeat customers and mentioned how often they have walk-in customers.
As we were interacting today, the respondent told me that the major reason the firm has not been generating income now is that most of the pigs he has are “sows” ( young female pigs ) which he wants to use and build the farm and they are not ready to sell to anyone now. He intends to allow them to give birth up to 3 times before selling them. According to him, by the time they have given birth 3 times, he will have much livestock on his farm because one can give birth to 12 piglets at once. He, therefore, said that I should not expect income now unless he has a serious emergency.
So I gave this respondent her Tablet today after taking a record of her financial transactions for the week. She was super excited and couldn’t get back to work because of the excitement. She called every other business owner around her to come and see what L-IFT has given to her. When they all saw the Tablet, many said they want to be part of the SFD research.
To cut the story short, she ended up praying for me and ordered soft drinks for every shop owner around her. She said, “This one nah to take wash the new Tablet.”.
She said “Debbie, what can I use to pay you for bringing L-IFT’s gift to me?” I smiled and said, “Just continue being faithful and cooperative ma.”
This respondent is into leather production. He told me he made about 8 pairs of slippers and sandals and sent goods by waybill for his customer and the transporters somehow lost it in transit. Now he has to either repay the person that made the order or make the slippers again for him. He said he already bought the materials to make the footwear again. I empathized with him.
I’ve been struggling to meet up with this respondent for over a month now. I called several times on Tuesday and yesterday so as to meet up with her to do her past transactions and profile history. I couldn’t get a response from her and I couldn’t access her firm because visitors are not allowed near her firm, I asked her colleagues if she was seen around but they couldn’t confirm that.
This firm runs a beauty shop, she makes and sells cream and soap and treats all skin-related concerns. She also does body enhancements as well.
This respondent has been quite receptive and co-operating with the survey and giving us her financial transactions. I had told her about the phone that L-IFT had promised to give to respondents, to thank them for their time.
So I gave her the phone yesterday. She said that she never believed any organizations could be true to their promise, as many other individuals representing different organizations had come to her firm, but she turned them down even before they make their reasons known but she just liked me. The way I talked and am still talking to her made and is still making her give me an audience.
She was very grateful and asked how to reach L-IFT. She even asked if she could send a mail to send her appreciation. She was really thankful.
This respondent got her L-IFT phone today and she was super excited and grateful. She sends her appreciation. She signed the phone agreement form.
He got the L-IFT phone today and he was super excited and grateful. He sends his appreciation. He signed the phone agreement form.
Pictures of this firm’s environment:
A picture of this firm’s environment:
This firm is into fish processing and packing. I went to her firm and I found her employees very busy. She then complained that the constant rain in Lagos since last week and this week disrupted their work as the factory was flooded; although she made this comment after. Her factory area is close to the river. Apart from the fact that the land is owned by her husband, she reported that she chose that area for easy disposal of fish waste.
The respondent suspended one of his employees for the negligence of duty which caused the firm some losses. According to him, he was away for 2 days and instructed the employee to manage the farm in his absence but the employee didn’t come to the farm during the 2 days he was away and didn’t also inform him. It was when he came back that he discovered that two of his pigs died the previous day without anyone knowing. For this reason, he suspended the employee from work for now.
I visited this respondent today for weekly reporting and he said he hasn’t had any big jobs lately. He said he has a job that he hopes comes in but the owner wants him to do the job with another welder and the respondent is telling the owner that it is better to share the job such that one person fixes doors and the other protectors so that if there is an issue in future, it will be easy to identify whose fault it is, but the person bringing the job insisted our respondent and the other welder do it together. He said he hopes no issues come out.
Code: NG113 and NG143
My supervisor and I visited these neighboring firms in a cluster that are into palm kernel oil production yesterday and both firm owners couldn’t hide their excitement at receiving their phone tokens and expressed their desire to continue with the study to the end “in expectation of some technical assistance”.
My Supervisor and I met this firm owner discussing in hush tones with a neighboring firm owner about her family’s financial challenges and how it was affecting her output as her family’s breadwinner.
She however cut the discussion after we exchanged pleasantries.
The firm is into palm kernel oil production.
I am sure you are already familiar with this code. Before I start, I’ll want you to be the judge and jury of this firm. If we should keep her at this juncture.
Tuesdays are my meeting days with this firm and we are yet to set up her FINBIT account. As I got to her office with my able supervisor, she was in a meeting with her staff so we had to wait for her. She finally attended to us and the first thing first was to ask her about her asset list which was pending as she had provided the employee list last week. She told me the list was not ready. I said, “Ahh, I have been praying just as you suggested for me to do in our last meeting.” Then she retorted that she had compiled the list and given it to her husband to apportion the cost as he was the one that helped her with purchasing and had the receipts. I was happy; at least there is progress. Immediately, she just said, “That should be all for now till next week.” I said, “Ahh, no. We need to take your special event survey and Financial and asset survey and at least set up your Account on FINBIT so we can start recording your financial transactions.” She said that she even needs to understand how we want to collect her financial transactions. Then I explained to her that I would be recording each of her daily transactions which I’ll come to get from her at every weekly visit. Then she said, “That won’t be possible. The best financial transaction I can provide is an aggregate sum of my daily transactions which will amount to weekly income and weekly expenses.” She said that that is how she usually inputs her financials on her system from her record book and it won’t be easy for her to give us daily transactions, as she has a book for every aspect of the business income. Then I asked her if she can give me the books weekly and leave me with the burden of recording them daily on my FINBIT as it is required. She said she can only provide weekly aggregates. When I sighed heavily and said, “I HAVE ENTERED ONE CHANCE” we both laughed. I needed to move on cause I didn’t want her decision to affect my work. I asked her to provide the different aspects of the business that generate income so I can set up her FINBIT but madam said not today and that we should go to the special event survey. I just respected myself and asked her the questions and we ended our meeting for that day.
Please be the Judge cause I don’t think she will provide all the necessary information we need with regards to financial transactions and specifications.
This is the respondent that lost footwear he sent on waybill for a customer. On visiting him today, he said he is hopeful to recover his loss from the lost waybill. He also said he may be unavailable for financial reporting next week as he will be traveling.
This respondent said that this week was OK for him in business. His expenses were not so much and they have entered the season.
On my last visit to this lovely woman’s firm, as I got to the front of the firm I noticed they were kind of busy plus I noticed a new face as well. They saw me and we exchanged pleasantries while they continued their work. I sat in the car for some minutes to allow them to do their thing. After a while, I went into the firm greeted them well, and asked for their financial transactions. I was given the record book. We both looked into it and she explained the ones that might look tricky to me. I went back into the car to record on FINBIT without distracting them from work. Some minutes later the firm owner came to meet me to share some of her pains. She has this apprentice who I appointed to keep the firm’s records but since three weeks ago she had enrolled into computer school hence she resume work in the afternoon. One of her other apprentices told her that the previous apprentice has been the one discouraging all the new apprentices that come for training. She tells them that her boss doesn’t know how to sew clothes and that she is a bad person and that most of the apprentices that come to learn usually go elsewhere to complete their training. This makes the new trainees stay for only two to three weeks before they stop coming even when they have not paid for their training. She was so hurt while discussing this with me that she almost shed a tear. She said that with the way she treated the old apprentice with love and took her as her own sister that she should see the way she has been chasing her trainees away. She said that if not for the other apprentice that told her about it she would not have known and because of the new apprentice that just indicated interest to avoid losing her again. The worse part is that this back-biting apprentice has not completed her training fees and she is done with her training. She almost shed a tear as she shared her experience. Then she said she knows what to do.
In the middle of our interview, the respondent received a call and his mood changed after the call. I asked him what happened and he told me how he has been finding it difficult to get a loan he applied for due to his inability to get a guarantor.
The 3 People who had promised to be his guarantors for the loan withdrew at the last minute, including the person that called him while we were interacting. He felt disappointed because according to him, he had hoped to use the loan to purchase more livestock which he will sell by next year’s Easter. He said he had to look for another person and prays he finds them because he really needs the loan.
I’ve been struggling to meet up with this firm owner for 6 weeks now if not more, always postponing and having emergencies. Eventually today I finally met her after several hours of waiting for her.
Then she told me she lost most of her birds (250) and sold off 150 due to the ongoing bird flu ravage. She bought lots of drugs to give the birds but it wasn’t helpful enough. She has laid off her 2 workers since she could no longer cope with their payment. She has been told by State Government to keep her pen temporarily closed until February 2022. She asked for her own Phone/Tablet because 2 of her colleagues have received it and they told her about it. She apologized for avoiding me all this while and told me it was due to the trauma of the loss of her birds and she didn’t want to tell me over the phone so she told me in person. I assured her we are interested in knowing details about the loss which she just told me today and her firm in its entirety and that it’s part of the challenges small firm owners are facing.
This is the second firm that has now temporarily closed due to the bird flu ravage.
Yesterday in our session at this firm that is into rice processing, the firm owner disclosed their round-the-clock work in rallying funds to fix up a newly acquired bigger factory space close by for relocation so as to accommodate soaring patronage heading into the yuletide season.
According to her, the firm had to remove perished rice from the store and dry it in the sun on Saturday, to try to salvage some, thereby creating space to store product.
It’s worth noting that the spoilt rice was actually abandoned in storage weeks ago by customers after the process, having come in deteriorating shape, infested with weevils before being processed, with the loss incurred by the customer.
Below is a picture of what the vicinity looked like on my visit.
For this firm, a computer business center, I observed that the firm had recorded a new intern who is on a 6-weeks software package training.
The firm owner also disclosed an increase in the price of services such as typing of documents from N100 to N150 (0.24 USD to 0.36 USD), which he said is subject to volume and negotiation. This is due to an increase in the cost of printing paper.
My respondent was insincere to me.
Our usual meeting day is every Tuesday. Since his employee left without stating if she’s resigning or not, it’s always hell getting to meet with him for Financial Transaction and other interviews. I had many repeat visits.
This firm does photocopying, printing, laminating, and typesetting and also sells religious and motivational books.
How did he lie to me? He lied to me about ownership.
He told me the business is a conceived idea of him and his family. So as the head, he oversees the business.
I went to his firm yesterday for our usual meeting and as we were talking about how the past week has been, a young man probably in his early 40s walked in and took his seat in the office I usually meet with the respondent. I quietly asked, “Have you gotten a new employee?” and he said, “He’s my boss.”. He continued, ” This is a church business and the building too is owned by the church so he came to know how I have been running the business and to monitor the progress.”
I was shocked. I had already projected the firm for dropping because of difficulties in getting the respondent’s attention.
No wonder whenever I ask him how much he has remaining after expenses, it is always difficult for me to get an exact amount.
When I asked him how he decides to fire workers, he said that this is a church business and it’s not owned by one man, “We don’t fire employees. We only give punishment, maybe suspend you from some activities.”
My respondent lied to me.
During the special event survey with one of the respondents that my field supervisor and I visited yesterday, she told us how she has been battling with government taxation and in some cases double taxation as she sometimes has to pay to both the state and federal agencies. She gave an example of paying tax to the Federal Inland Revenue Service at the federal level and the Board of Internal Revenue at the state level. She went on to show us things she bought to submit to the health sector of Enugu South Local Government Area by Wednesday (today) with N5000 (12 USD). She said that that’s how they keep coming, that about 5 different government agencies randomly come with thugs to harass them, and that even after you have paid your official due, they will still come asking for money, and if you decline they will intimidate you and create a scene which scares customers away. Sometimes it will be sanitation, sometimes ESWAMA (waste management), and sometimes advertisement and signage people because of her school sign. She spends a lot sorting all that. With her permission, I took pictures of the things she is to submit with N5000 on Wednesday and also the reminder note she posted on her wall so she doesn’t forget to go.
NB: The N5000 paid is for the inconvenience of them coming to her firm for fumigation meanwhile, if they don’t come for the fumigation, she will still be the one to take the money to their office.
This respondent has been meaning to go to the market for materials for a while now. On getting to her place yesterday, she informed my field supervisor and I that she finally bought the materials and has started selling them already. She said she bought 35 pieces of textile for sale and her workers have already asked her to keep about 10 (30%) of those materials for them and that they will pay her for them. She didn’t even seem bothered as she laughed over it. With her permission, we took pictures of the beautiful materials which were reserved for employees.
I visited this respondent for the scheduled weekly reporting and, as it had been the past 2 weeks, the place was buzzing with activity. When she finally had time for reporting, she said she is not surprised by the rush she is experiencing as this is her busiest time of the year. She said most days she doesn’t get to sit down from morning till she closes in the evening. Here are pictures of some of the feeds she already made for her customers.
I met the firm owner and employees busy with the production of leather footwear.
We had barely begun the session when he lamented the rising cost of raw materials. In his words, “We barely buy some raw materials and go back to purchase them at the same rate even in the same week.”
I observed that that employee who was sick hadn’t returned and on inquiring, I was informed he, an apprentice, was back to school, curtailing his work and training days to Fridays and Saturdays only.
On asking about savings goals during the special events survey, the firm owner gladly relayed his family’s forthcoming wedding, disclosing his desire to gift his junior sister a washing machine as a token at her wedding on the 28th of December.
Below are colorful pictures from his work.
This firm owner is into the business of sawmilling, resizing, cutting, and shaping wood in large quantities. He already delegated his manager since we started with his firm. Anytime there are survey questions that his manager can’t answer, that is when I book an appointment to see him, as he is always busy. He has about three to four workers and they have three different machines they use for sawmilling. They have a particular machine that when used for customers they use the money to cover expenses incurred by the firm such as fuel and so on. The workers also use the money made from the use of the machine to take care of themselves as they are also still under training so to say. When I started recording their financial transactions, they already told me they don’t keep records for that particular machine and they gave me reasons. I now encouraged them to start keeping the records so we can also record their expenses. Well, they have started recording the income from that machine without disclosing the income they apportion for themselves. They told me that that won’t be possible as they don’t want their boss to know what they make from that machine even though he has handed it over to them.
During the scheduled visit to this firm today with my supervisor, the respondent told us that she has not been able to purchase textile materials that she was supposed to use and make clothes she will sell this Christmas. She stated that her bank placed restrictions on her account because her brother sent her some amount of money into the account which the bank considered too much for such an account. Upon her visit to the bank, she was asked to provide her National Identification Number (NIN), which she did for more than 3 weeks now but the restriction has not been lifted. This has made it impossible for the respondent to withdraw her money and buy the textile materials she needs. According to her, it will definitely affect her plans and business this Christmas period.
Two of this firm’s apprentices completed their apprenticeship 2 weeks ago but because of their good behavior and hard work during their apprenticeship period, the firm retained them and they are now being paid according to the work they do for the firm pending when they will raise money to start their own business.
The respondent said that the promised phone has taken so long to arrive and that she has started losing hope. She said that the phone would boost her morale and encourage her to be more active in the research. The firm is among those selected to be dropped.
I visited this firm yesterday and I was fascinated by what I saw from one of the students who want to study Architecture in the future. The young man belongs to the Indomie Ambassador club so he decided to use the cartons.
Every dream starts small.
In my yesterday’s session with this firm, a business center that’s been having a challenging time, the manager who is my respondent disclosed having had to relieve an employee of her duties due to lower income and patronage, meaning she could not sustain her employment.
She also lamented falling revenues, how she couldn’t keep up with new opening firms, and staying idle without patronage at times even after so much advertisement.
I listened patiently with empathy, assuring her that all will be well.
The special events survey presented my respondent, who’s into palm kernel oil production, the opportunity to narrate some conflicts with her employee the past week. She had given the employee instructions on how to go about producing using the right ratio of materials, while she had stepped out to source raw materials. On returning later, she observed the employee didn’t follow her instructions duly from the ongoing process.
She wasn’t pleased and on scolding her, the employee raised her voice at the firm owner, and then a quarrel ensued briefly between them before issues were settled and production continued as she couldn’t afford to bring in further emotions especially with demanding work at stake.
This respondent is into confectionery. During our weekly reporting, she complained that goods are quite costly in the market now and she is even contemplating adding money to her finished products but she is scared that will drive customers away. She said that the market is not as it used to be and that their daily income is dropping,
During my last visit, the respondent said she was busy so we couldn’t do the special events and employee-by-employer surveys. She also said EEDC cut their light saying they had some bills from an estimated billing before they got a prepaid meter and they need to come and discuss how to pay off the bills before they can restore their light. This is the respondent that runs a laboratory and was preparing for a council visit some time ago.
This respondent is one of the tailors in my list of respondents. On my last visit for reporting, she said she doesn’t know what is wrong with her this season. That she has been undercharging people. When she tells them the price they keep begging for a lower price and they are people she knows so she doesn’t know how to tell them no.
This respondent runs a school (crèche, nursery, and primary). She had sometimes told me they were looking for a loan and the place they usually get loans from said they are rounding off for the year and can’t give loans anymore until next year. On my last visit yesterday, she told me she and her husband are still looking for how to get a loan to buy the land offered to them at 1.5M Naira (3,613 USD) so they can move in there by next year.
This respondent runs a photocopying firm and also gives POS services. He does not have employees anymore because he said they usually had one drama or the other, taking jobs from his customers, talking rudely to him, and the very last one was being diabolic, dropping spiritual/prayer things in his shop.
So to the reason for this story, when I do the observation survey for this firm, I usually put, “Firm does not have contact information displayed”, because there was none.
He recently did the POS stand outside, he did the woodwork himself as well.
So last week, while doing the survey, a neighbor of his came around and they were talking about their different firms’ banners around them, telling the other one not to pass his boundaries and all. After his neighbor left, I asked him this, “but Mr. …, where’s your own banner. Don’t you have yours?” He said he has, pointing opposite the road. I initially thought he was joking until I stood up to check for myself. Then I asked him how long the banner had been there. He said that he had it there since the beginning. I asked, “Why so far away from your firm?” His neighbor firms had theirs just around or in front of their firms; ”Is there any particular reason you have yours that far away?” He laughed and said that he just preferred it there.
Above are the pictures. One was taken standing slightly away from his firm so that I could get a shot of the banner. In the other picture, I crossed the road to snap it. Then, the third is a picture of his firm.
Two weeks ago when I got to this firm for our usual weekly visit, I had to interview the firm owner on Financial tools and asset survey. It was the same day I presented him with the phone gift. He was really happy that he sent his prayers to L-IFT. As I started the financial tools survey, it gave him the chance to open up about his financial struggles affecting his business. One of these is some of the business money getting stuck with his suppliers to the tune of N6 million (14,453 USD) because of some government regulations on the movement of wood from other states. He said this affected his business and he needed some money to keep his business running and sourcing for stock from other suppliers. He said his wife introduced him to a cooperative group in their area which he got a loan of N1.5M (3,613 USD) to support his business. He also shared other business ideas with me which he is looking to invest in once he has the capital. When he mentioned the loan he got from the cooperative, I quickly asked him the total sum and interest with the amount he has paid back as of that day and he provided those details as I needed to record them on FINBIT.
I got there on our last meeting and behold, I saw the run-away staff. He was busy with work as I approached him and asked why I have not been seeing him at work. He said that he had an emergency call and he had to travel. At this time the firm owner had not arrived. I went in to wait for him. He got in after about 30 minutes. He was engaged with work as he got in, but I still squeezed out time to ask him the Employers and Employee survey. As I started with the questions, he opened up to tell me how he felt about the run-away employee. He said that that particular employee knows the craft and he usually manages the work well when he is not available. That as it is, the employee is the one managing him because he likes him so much and when he came back he couldn’t punish him or tell him to leave because he needs his services so bad. He also said when he put a vacant post out, he was not satisfied with the applicants that showed up. He also added that he wants the progress of his employees and he would appreciate it if they cooperate with him by completing their own quota and communicating when they need to travel and not leave him helpless when they leave without notice. With regards to recording of business activities, he said he has told his staff not to take up that role again because he thinks maybe because he has access to the firm’s income it has gotten to his head and that’s why he is misbehaving not considering all the expenses that the business incurs for effectiveness. He promised to be keeping his records by himself and ask that we pardon him if sometimes it is not up to date but he will always update the records.