“Respondents’ Stories Shared by the Field Team: 16 October 2021 – 31 October 2021”

posted in: SFD Blogs - Nigeria | 0


I have a firm that is into welding and iron bending. The firm owner used to be in the village but moved to the city. According to him, things were going well before covid but following after covid, the prices of things have been going up moreso in the past 2 months. He said that after costing work and giving the quotation to the customer by the time you go to the market you find that prices have changed from what they were when you did costing so you will now have to complete the money for the materials from the money that should have come to you as workmanship making you earn less from the transaction.
This is also the respondent that lost his phone within the last month and has been trying to retrieve his line without much success. He is presently using a new line while he hopes to recover his old line soon amidst the delays from NCC and NIMC

NG324, NG296, NG116

Following the new research questions that have been added, I have been getting reactions from respondents. Some firm owners said the questions were too many and took too much time. One said it looks like we keep adding more questions that he hopes I remember he is a businessman


This firm is one of the most dedicated firms on my list. He is very meticulous in his record keeping because he studied financial accounting in a higher institution. His firm is a private school, according to him where he rented a building and was running the firm, the landlord gave them quick notice within a short time to leave the building because he wants to renovate it for another purpose. Things became tough so within a short time, they moved into the available space. We usually meet every Thursday, the last two weeks he was emotionally unstable because his mom was sick and he had sent the wife to go bring the mother to Lagos so she can receive adequate medical care. Last week Thursday we were supposed to meet for the usual business, I called in the morning to remind him of my usual way but he told me to let’s make it in the evening because he was with his mom in the Hospital. Evening came I called he didn’t pick up. On Friday I called again he didn’t pick up . Yesterday I dropped a message for him on WhatsApp asking him about his mother’s health and he replied that she’s not responding to treatment and she has been vomiting. Last night I got a WhatsApp message from him that he lose his mother. A very big burden for him 😢😔.


During the census, when I visited this firm, I remember the proprietor addressing the students during dismissal (It’s a private school with nursery, primary and secondary sections). In the month of August, I couldn’t get any financial transactions from them because the firm wasn’t running a summer lesson program where they could generate income. Yesterday he told me as at last session, he was having a total of 62 students in his schools but now his students are less than 15. Some parents withdrew their children to public schools shortly the COVID-19. A lot couldn’t pay for the school fees they owed the school.

Because of the school’s numerical strength at the moment, he retrenched some of his staff. Most times I only get to see income recorded for one day in a week.


I remember telling you about one of my firms who is very meticulous in keeping records even before he became part of us right? I remember also sharing that when I asked him for his worse month in his business he brought a record from 2015. Now, I want to share with you small on he started his business.

His 47th birthday was September 3rd. I forgot to attend even though he invited me. He started his business of printing when he was 20 studying Economics in University. He was still working with his Dad and he was placed on salary just like every other staff. His Dad also own a large printing firm. So he started his business and started collecting jobs from people, use his father’s equipment and pay him while he saves some. He finally got shop for himself and started advertising his business and distributing flyers on the road. Few years in the business he was struggling to pay his staff and the business folded. He started working with United Bank of Africa as a marketer and was paid little below 100k so he started saving money again so he can start his business better. After few years with the bank, the bank reviewed their performances and decided to sacked all of them in the marketing department so he fell back to his business.
He started all over again distributing flyers, reduced his price of printing, bought more printing machines. Currently he has 4 paid employees he paying 50k, 30k, 25k, and 20k monthly. He said after few years in his business he told himself he’s not going to work for someone again. Brethren, if you enter his office, you would want to spend more time there especially when it’s sunny 😂😂 AC top notch. Background music 👏😊😊 and the man is down to earth with his employees.

*Brief history about NG 442*
The firm owner is a sonographer by profession but he runs a medical laboratory where the carries out laboratory tests, ECG, X-ray and ultrasound. He started the business 5 months ago. The laboratory was franchised to him. He got the link through a friend and he decided to take it up. All equipments were already available at the laboratory when he took over. He had an agreement with the owner to pay a particular amount monthly for using the name/registration and the equipments. He employed 3 staff when he started (a medical laboratory scientist, front desk officer and a marketer).He however complained that some of the equipments are outdated which is one of the reasons they are not doing so well as expected. He also said they do not have the capacity to run some chemistry test at the firm so he partnered with another lab(They collect samples from customers and run the test at another lab).They also pay consultants to help them interpret their radiology test. He is presently working towards getting modern equipments which he feels will increase patronage.

*Recent occurrences*
The firm was burgled last week and the robbers stole the firm’s laptop. Secondly, his marketer resigned because he got a better offer else where. He got another marketer with increased salary payment. The marketer didn’t start with them at the beginning of the month but the firm owner decided to pay him his full salary when he was paying others. He felt really pained that the new marketer stopped coming to work as soon as he got his salary even though the month had not ended and he also didn’t give them any prior notice. Right now,he just employed another marketer who has just spent a week. He hopes the new employee would be more reliable. Thirdly, he recently increased the salary of his laboratory scientist and marketer due to the economic situation of the country


Today I visited one of my respondents who has been very accurate and detailed with her record keeping. Upon getting there I noticed she was not like her normal self and looked very unhappy. Upon inquiring she told me robbers attacked her shop last night and carted away all 4 of her sewing machines both electrical and manual. She said she came to work today and met her shop wide open and all her machines gone except for the weaving machine which must have been too heavy for them to carry. She said she had to call her employees to bring their personal machine to work today and that’s what they used. That she doesn’t know where to start in this Christmas season that is at the corner.


This respondent said he has not been feeling well since the past 2 days and has been managing his health. He told me his employee who recently started working with them this October was duped. She sold eggs and indomie worth 203,000 to a walk in customer who paid her and left. Later when our respondent came in, he discovered that the money paid was counterfeit. By then they had already made away with his goods. The respondent lamented that he is suffering such loss at a time when his business I already not doing very well.


So last night, when I had retired to bed, my phone rang, it was one of my respondents, I wasn’t sure what it could have been, I picked her call anyway and after we had exchanged pleasantries, she said she got a call from Google map and she was asked to confirm her new location (🤨🤨) and she wanted to be sure that L-IFT had nothing to do with it. >>Sidenote; Before yesterday, she had told me she relocated to her current location not so long ago.<<So I told her that it was very possible that google was trying to update her visibility to her customers and carry her customers and prospective customers along and it had nothing to do with L-IFT. I was waiting for the next question when she said “okay, I just wanted to confirm from you.

So this firm has been complaining of low patronage since we started this project, it is as bad as not having any income for 2 weeks at a stretch,take for instance his report for last the 2 weeks which i recorded yesterday, he has income only once he was not really happy about it. meanwhile, he told me about a job he was bidding for, so yesterday he said they finally gave him the job.💃💃💃💃


This firm is one of my respondents that is very detailed in his record-keeping, last week when i was asking questions on firm history survey, he opened up to me that he was very close to closing down the firm 😱his firm was established on 11th November,2011 (11/11/11) meaning the firm will clock 10 years next month, he said he has concluded in closing down that very day because of some issues like the work stress, low patronage, increase in price of goods in the country, he told his wife about it and she begged him not to close down, he further told one of his friends he advised him to rebrand and expand his business instead of closing down, so right now he is looking for another space around Ogba(ikeja)💃💃💃which will serve as branch office.


About 3 weeks now this firm owner has been sick and receiving treatment. The last interview (profile and special event Surveys) I had to do it in her house. She’s a young lady. She has packed from her former house which was closer to her shop, now she spends more than N500 going to shop daily from her new location. She’s currently working on relocating her business closer to her house. The last time I visited, she was fixing the new location.
According to her after COVID-19 break, she loss most of her customers because she loss her first child during that time that kept her away from her shop for 3 – 4 months and her employees cannot sew well. Her income generation at the moment is poor and she’s not proud of how the business has been lately.


This particular firm has the same thing to say almost every time I visit his firm, (same one I had told us about, the one that said he does not make sales but he has people who randomly give him money), so he says business has been bad, no customers, high cost of work materials in the market. So, just while we were having that conversation, a customer walks in (please note that I had never seen a customer there before in all my visits to his firm, he combines schooling with his business, thus he is not always at his firm, so I usually have to call him to schedule appointment or call to be sure he is at his firm and available to talk to me). I was slightly happy (maybe for him), to see a customer walk in. Then customer says why she was there, (to make a photocopy) and this man confidently told this customer that he could not attend to her, that she should go to another firm (😳?), customer then says, “okay, what if I make two copies instead of one that I originally wanted to make?” Firm owner says, no don’t worry, there’s no light and I can’t turn on the generator for just 2 copies, there are other photocopy firms here, just go this way (points towards a direction to show her where to go and make her copies).


On Saturday, I visited this respondent with FR4; though she was around but said she had numerous activities in the shop to attend to which she was unable to do on Thursday because of the sit at home on that day. She asked that the financial reporting be postponed to next week as she does not have any second to spare.
She complained that they only worked on Tuesday and Friday as the 3 day sit at home really disrupted a lot of buisnesses activities for firm owners

This firm was the one i reported that wanted their financial transactions reported on the first week of September. On my module two observation the firm was under lock and key same as module three, even though i called the firm owner to ask if all was well but he mentioned that once i come for the first transaction recording we would talk. On getting to his house he made me realise that he was not making so much sales as he no longer have a delivery van to distribute his bread hence he paused on production while he raise some money to get a delivery van for distribution. I was able to record one week transaction as he closed the business some days after the account set up. He has another source of income managed by his wife which is training students how to bake cake making and sales of cereal so he asked if the other source can be a part of SFD even though i added it as the other income source. The business has not started operations and he has sophisticated machineries.


So I was supposed to visit this respondent last week Tuesday, but her number wasn’t going through (within me I was like, Kaduna and network issues again…) But then I kept calling her line but to no avail, I tried her line for several days but still couldn’t reach her. Her number finally went through on Thursday but she didn’t take her call. (At this point, I was already scared 😳 of loosing a respondent… 😒 🤔 I was like what could possibly be the problem, she’s not taking her calls neither is she returning missed calls). So my supervisor proposed we visit her tomorrow.
Luckily for me today, I missed her call (I was happy to see her missed call on my phone 😃) So my supervisor called her back and she apologised for not taking her calls all these while. She also explained how she forgot her phone at her relatives house last week when she visited.
Finally, I am seeing her tomorrow.

This, my beautiful respondent, is always gisting me of his employees and their wahala. The one on salary can come for 2 weeks out of 1 month and d ones paid by piece decide on which days to come or not. Most of d time, he stays in the shop alone. One that travelled before we did set up sef has refused to come back. Whenever I start recording employees hours worked, he always has a complain about all of them on a weekly basis. One even collected loan and refused to come to work so that he won’t get to pay back (well, that’s what the firm owner thinks) So, I visited his shop last week and met the place locked. Both him and the employee were looking for the key where the employee kept it. Upon asking him what happened, he explained that he lost a friend and he went for the burial leaving the employee at the firm. But the employee decided to lock the shop and go for his own “yawo” (waka), only for him to come back and the key is missing. He had to get a welder to open the shop and pay him from the firm

So yesterday I was able to visit my respondent who has been away for 3 weeks. Even though when I met him in the morning,he was so busy and snuk out of the interview. I and my supervisor had to go to other firms which we literally walked like the children of Israel going to cannan land. After I had done most of my interviews I went back to the firm and met the respondent again I told him how it wasn’t fair that he snuck out of the interview without saying a word to me. He apologised and told me that Nepa had cut his light and he had a situation where a competitor followed the truck of feeds he was delivering to another state to meet his customer and how that act had affected his income. He had to travel to this customer who usually buys his feeds in hundreds of bags to know what had affected their relationship. The customer told him and he was disappointed by the act of the said competitor. But the good news is while we were conducting the interview the customer called and placed an order for some feeds. Even though I was unable to do the surveys with him because he snuck out on the interview again as if he was going to ease himself. But will do the survey on our next interview.

So I had to come to my respondent’s house this early because we couldn’t do the the surveys yesterday. I decided to take a tour of her farm and I was surprised to see the number of different varieties of plants that she had. Fruits like black Berry, Jack fruit, bread fruit, olive tree,apple tree, star fruit, gall bananas and plantains,passion fruits, African rose apples,cherry tomatoes, Chinese green beans lemons,Indian lemon,English lemon crane Berry, mule Berry,straw Berry,grape vine,turmeric,ginger etc. So I decided to share some of the pictures I snapped.

I got a call from NBS staff on Monday for a supervisory visit for today at 2pm. i usually visit this my respondent every Wednesdays. I had also pre informed her of NBS visit. I got here and the NBS staff joined me and we started our normal business. Mr Uche of NBS then asked her for the name of her business. She answered and i also reiterated the name which was her native name then i explained to Mr Uche the origin of the name. My respondent then replied saying “that’s also the name of my business infact i have it on my signpost” I was shocked oo, cos ever since i started working closely with her i have not seen or observed any signpost. I didn’t pass any remark even though i have not filled the observation survey for the week. We started with the financial tools survey but the assets part didn’t pop up, i tried all sort of log in and log out yet the asset section didn’t pop up. I had to go ahead with the financial tools section so as not to waste time. I finished with that and filled her financial transactions for the week, carried out special event survey. Finally we completed the day’s task and Mr Uche of NBS took his leave, i walked him out and we had some discussion outside the firm’s shop. Then i looked up and saw the beautiful sign post. Mr Uche left and i went in to meet my respondent then asked her about the signpost. She said her husband was the one who fixed it yesterday. I said wow this is a good one and then i asked to take a picture of the signpost then congratulated her. I later told her that i need to check the Financial and asset survey if it would load so i can ask her the other questions. Guess what she told me😂😂 We have closed our session for this week come back next week to ask me those questions🤦‍♀ Above is a sneak peek of her sign post then i had to cover her phone number and business name for confidentiality.


This respondent owns a school. Before now she had complained that covid really affected her as she lost a lot of pupil because they either relocated or their parents couldn’t afford the school fees anymore and had to put them in public schools. She had once told me that usually they say the first two years of starting a business is rocky before you start making profit but her second year fell into covid year (2020) so she is counting this year as her second year. That she has not been making profit since after covid and sometimes have to add money from other sources to keep her school afloat. She is however watching this second year to know the next step to take.
Yesterday, during reporting she told me she didn’t make any money in the past week as they were closed all through except on Friday. She equally complained that the constant sit at home and security issues is affecting the Children’s scheme of work (curriculum) for the term. That last week alone they lost 4 days: Monday and Thursday to sit at home, Tuesday was public holidays while Wednesday was Endsars memorial and she asked her pupils to stay home for fear of their safety.

The respondent has been very detailed in her weekly reporting and told me some weeks back that clothes have not been coming in this season like they used to in other years towards Christmas. Yesterday she told me she got a new customer that has been bringing clothes for her steadily and she is happy. She hopes the customer continues like that. She also complained that in last week alone her employees were at home on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and she doesn’t open on Saturdays for now so they worked only two times. Said It’s “cutting a lot of gap for her”. Meaning she is loosing time

This is my respondent whose sewing machines were stolen last week. She was looking unbothered yesterday and I asked how she has been faring since the incident. She told me she believes it’s someone that knows her that stole her sewing machines but even though the person wanted to do her bad that God has used that to advertise her. That she got a lot of jobs this week and also sold a lot of materials. That she plans on restocking materials this week and prays business stays this good so she can replace all the stolen machines. For now, she has bought one for herself while her employees brought the ones they have at home to be using at work for now and they go home with it everyday as she doesn’t want to risk a repeat of the stealing


On the scheduled visit to this my respondent yesterday. I noticed that she was busier than usual with so many customers around her.
When I asked her why the unusual scenario, she told me that the 3 days the firm did not open last week due to the sit at home action and “End Sars” memorial made her unable to meet her customers demand and some of her employees who could have assisted her with the work didn’t come to work so she was left to do all the work alone. Some of the customers were visibly angry and feeling disappointed but she kept pleading with them to understand that the fault wasn’t entirely hers.
I sat down, waiting patiently until she attended to the last customer before we commenced the weekly interview.


This respondent has a photo studio and a workshop just by the side of the photo studio where he frames enlarged photos. The firm was established in 1977. He keeps his records meticulous, even to his personal expenses. When we newly joined this project, this respondent just like many others thought it was solely for giving SMEs financial assistance, so he kept saying it repeatedly how he needs financial assistance from the project and if it was not going to give him money, he was not interested. I took time to explain the goals and objectives to him, after all the explanations he would still say it is money he wants, but this time after the explanation, he says it with a broad smile on his face. He still teases with this most times when I visit his firm. Before now he used to find it difficult to hand me his records, he would just say it with words of mouth, “Precious, no sales oo, COVID messed things up and there is no money, it is money that I need”, but now he gives me effortlessly. I asked him what he intends to do with the money one the times he talked about it, then he said thieves had broken into his firm three times, through the ceiling and made away with most of his work tools and assets, like his camera, so he had to take a loan to sort that. So he said that if he had the money, he has a plan on how they can go about completely stopping thieves from gaining access to the firm but his challenge is money, I sympathized with him and told him all will be fine.


This respondent is most of the time not available at his firm, so he had asked his secretary to record his financial transactions, unfortunately on my last visit to the firm, there was no record though I met his secretary, she looked pale though.
I asked her why there was no record if all was fine, she said she was not feeling well and had not been to work most of the last week and she had not seen her boss, though the firm had been open and other employees were at work.

I visited one of my respondents. He was a late addition, in fact the last firm to be added. The respondent said he is presently doing the interior furnitures for a new house so he is often not at the shop but if anybody needs him they can call him on phone and schedule a meeting.
He also said he works from his workshop at home during sit at homes and that his boys work there more when they have a job to deliver and sleep over at his house so they can do the job marathon till they are done.


Yesterday I visited one of my respondents who is into Laboratory services for a scheduled meeting. The respondent apologised that she cannot attend to me as they are awaiting an inspection by the Medical Lab Council and her nerves are everywhere. That she heard they have been sealing up labs and she needs to be sure that everything is intact. That she is not sure how long it will take before they come so she cannot ask me to come back on the same day. I told her I will call to know how it goes and wished her all the best.

So I visited one of my firms, a business centre for reporting yesterday and to my surprise, firm was completely shut.
I couldn’t reach the firm Manager as both her line and firm owner’s are inaccessible.
Firm owner has been out of Enugu since reporting commenced and delegated reporting duties to Manager who has been committed, notwithstanding the challenges firm face, including a steady increase in price of raw materials like printing paper ink and photographic film, without increase in price of service as they feel this will further drive patronage lower.
I have them in prayers and do hope all is well with them.
I’ll keep calling and check back next week.


I remember telling you last time about this firm whose employee underreport income generated from the firm when the firm owner is not around. It’s more than 2 weeks the employee has stopped coming to work. 2 weeks ago I was with the firm owner and 2 customers came in to do a job that would require graphic design and printing and unfortunately the firm owner is not proficient in graphic design so he directed them to the next shop. One of his employees who’s good at graphic design had stopped work. Through out our discussion, he became more uncomfortable. So this week’s Thursday I visited his firm as it’s the usual day I discovered he has placed an advert for a graphic designer.

Financial tools survey

Question 070

“Do you save for your business sir”?

“Michael, you have been visiting my firm since your project started, sometimes 2 weeks I don’t generate income from this business and when it comes it’s usually less than N5000. Is it the money I’m generating once in a month that I will save?”

Me; 🤐🌝

I’m thinking of survival for now he added.


This carpentry firm was established in 1999 and it was the only carpentry firm in this area for many years. The business is owned by husband and wife. The wife is in charge of the sales unit while the husband is in charge of production. In the course of our interaction yesterday, the respondent told me of a major business set back the firm suffered in 2016. There was a fire incident in the firm. The cause of the fire which started around 1am was unknown and the efforts of the Men of state fire service who came to rescue the situation proved abortive as everything inside the shop were completely destroyed. Some officials of the state government who came later made promises to assist them which the respondent said were never fulfilled. However, the firm was able to start again from the scratch through the efforts of some family members and friends and the firm is gradually growing again. On a lighter note, she said, “ if the fire incident had not happened, we wouldn’t have been selected for the small firm Diaries project because the firm would have grown to the extent that it won’t meet the criteria of a small firm”


I visited this respondent last week, asked her for her financial transactions for the last week and to please give me her diary, then she started laughing, (I started asking myself if I said something funny), then she said “sister Precious, there’s nothing at all in the book, I thought she probably forgot to write her transactions down, so I asked her to tell me with word of mouth, she said there’s nothing, I started encouraging her to write and keep her records and all that (me thinking she just didn’t want to write down her transactions), she kept quiet and was just gawking at me, the next thing she said was, “if there was anything, I would have written or at least told you, just #3000 and that of today, I did not make sales this week, nothing, the one person I worked for is even owing me.” (Coincidentally, the man (debtor) walked in, she asked him for her money and the man was acting funny, telling her he had no money and was just walking away, respondent had so much pain in her eyes.) After he left, I asked her if she had written it (the loan given) down, she said no, that she is tired of her customers taking her for granted, owing her, then I told her she had not told me anything about that before, she said it just gets her annoyed and she has been looking for a way to restrategize to stop the debts, I encouraged her to keep the records of everything, she said she knows I said that, but she forgot and since sales is not forthcoming, it’s tiring, she said she even reached out to one of the companies she designs calendars for, they ere yet to give her a feedback, she showed me their WhatsApp chat. She said her business hasn’t been this bad.When I was asking her the financial tools survey, when I got to the question asking if she gives loan, she exclaimed and said it’s a normal thing her customers do to her and she is really not pleased, I told her it has to reflect in the data she gives me, then she asked me to please always carry her along so that she can do better with giving her data.