Code: NA (General Experience)
Yesterday here in Enugu, we patiently watched the development of the sit-at-home order in Eastern Nigeria as instructed by the Field Supervisor. At around 12 PM, she called to remind me to start work as the city appeared to be peaceful but that I should be careful and conscious of my surroundings.
I visited two respondents whose lines were inaccessible over the weekend and their firms were closed. I decided to visit and wait for the third respondent who said he would come to meet me. As I was waiting for him, machete & gun-wielding hoodlums appeared and began to harass people and destroy vehicles and shops who they said flouted the sit-at-home order.
I immediately placed a call to my supervisor who instructed me to leave the area immediately and find my way home, and also inform the respondent not to come around the volatile area, which I did.
I had to avoid the major roads, which were mostly volatile, and cut through long, residential suburbs as I trekked home.
I thank God that I escaped without getting hurt.
Code: NA (General Experience)
Ibe Amaka Chinwe:
The IPOB is a secessionist movement in the South East led by Mr. Nnamdi Kalu.
Recently, the Nigerian government sponsored the extradition of the group leader from Kenya and this has fuelled unrest among the members of the group.
In a bid to force the hand of the Nigerian government to release the leader, the group official has mandated that people in the South East of the country will sit at home every Monday without any movement and that businesses, establishments e.t.c will be closed.
Failure to abide by the rules brings about the risk of the offenders being picked up by the task force. For security purposes, citizens tend to follow these rules for fear of their lives and to avoid the destruction of their properties and assets.
On Monday 16th August 2021, a series of instructions and counter instructions were published by different media outlets about the sit-at-home order which left the masses confused.
I informed my Supervisors about the development and informed the FRs to wait till noon to ascertain that the coast is clear before moving to the field.
As the day progressed, there seemed to be vehicular movement and the city appeared calm, the FRs moved to the field. A lot of businesses were closed and most of the respondents were absent.
Less than 2 hours into their work, news started coming in about unrest, and I received a call from one of the FRs that he is in a risky situation. I asked him to leave immediately. Other FRs were alerted to leave the field immediately as well.
As the news spread, vehicles stopped moving and the FRs trekked a greater distance to their various houses amidst a stampede.
Yesterday was somewhat funny because one of my respondents, who is 80 years old, told me the story of his entire life when I asked him when he started his business. When I tried to interrupt him to continue the interview, he told me to keep quiet and listen. I had to listen to the whole story. When I was done, he began to ask if I was married, a question he has asked me on all the 3 times I have been to his place, and he began another sermon. In the end, I got a prayer after the interview.
So, one of my respondents, who is a proprietress, gave me an invitation letter inviting L-IFT to their graduation ceremony slated for this Saturday. I informed our FS and she said we should go as a team to create better rapport with the respondent but she said she had to discuss with the FM before confirming our attendance.
Our FS later got back to me saying the FM approved that we should attend. I look forward to having an enlightening time on Saturday and building a better rapport with the respondent.
My second respondent for today got me smiling all along. She’s got so many assets and when it was time to record her assets, she brought out all the receipts of the assets in her shop so that I don’t have to ask too many questions about them. The one that surprised me most was when I asked of the rent of her shop per month, she just stretched the receipt of the latest payment to me ASAP, and she said, “I am born ready.”
After the account setup was done (which took 3hours), She looked at me and said, “Deborah, you are now one of my unpaid staff that will be keeping my record for the next one year.”
I was just blushing on behalf of L-IFT.
There was this firm that I listed on the census that is into herbal skincare products. But before listing them, I made sure I spoke with the business owner over the phone to give her an insight on the SFD project as she had just returned from vacation. She granted permission and delegated her manager for the task after that call. She then called back to ask if we will be doing any video or audio recording. I told her that we wouldn’t and that it was an oral interview. Fast forward to intake, her business was selected and FS was around at that time so we visited. This time the business owner was on site and we tried to explain the SFD project to her. She said, personally, she won’t be available to entertain being interviewed, but if her manager would give us an audience then it’s fine. She asked for the benefits and we highlighted them to her. Her manager also gave consent to participating.
Last week I went for FINBIT set up. The business owner was serving siesta and I got to ask the manager about their assets, cost, and all those questions attached to each component. We had some information left, especially the ones that have to do with production. Which meant that I would still need some information from the business owner. Lest I forget, FS envisaged that we might have a little problem with the business when it comes to set up and reporting but I told her I would carry the business owner along to avoid unnecessary brouhaha. I reached out to the business owner yesterday via WhatsApp to explain the need for opening the FINBIT account and its benefits. Then she called me immediately and the following conversation ensued:
Business owner: Hello (angrily), what are you saying? I was told you came to my shop last week to ask about how much we have in our account, how much my staff members have in their account, cost of my assets. What type of research is that? Who does that? you are asking about my generator, about the cost of my products, that was too much, You don’t dare come to my shop to do that! I don’t want to see you in my shop again! I am no longer interested in your research. We are doing our business secretly and we don’t want to expose ourselves.
She was saying all of these things by raising her voice over the phone and using insulting words that I cannot mention here. I was quiet and gobsmacked at the same time at the other end of the phone. As soon as she finished raising her voice and I said, “hello ma”, she just hung up the phone.
I logged into my WhatsApp to tell her to read the consent letters I had dropped with her manager and that we are working in conjunction with Lagos business school and the National Bureau of statistics. But before my next chat, she blocked me off on WhatsApp.
Thank God my FS called me immediately after that call. I shared my experience with her and she was there to console me for my loss.
Today a firm declined after rescheduling set up several times. He said, and I quote, “I thought I would be given a loan and that was why I consented, but since I won’t be given a loan I also won’t be comfortable sharing my financial details again.” And this was why he declined.
Code: NA (General Experience)
It’s sad when I spend so much time reading and, even in relevant cases, interpreting each line of the Consent Forms and answering questions & feel like I’ve quelled doubts, and the next moment, the respondent still decline to give information or start getting attitudes like the explanations made no sense
My experience; most firm owners bottle up so much aggression and their understanding of research (history matching experiences) is that if it doesn’t bring immediate gratification, then it’s the ‘grand old story’ which, according to some, is neither saving them from the general high cost of doing business nor the less conducive business environment.
Or how else does one explain the fact that the same firm owners, who I’ve met almost weekly in the past 6-weeks and tried to create a good rapport with, turn so fluid at each scheduled visit like it’s the first time they’re seeing my face.
One respondent has dribbled me on 5 scheduled visits since last week. After patiently waiting 35 minutes yesterday for him to attend to his business, he politely told me to come back next week for setup and that ‘he wouldn’t be chanced the rest of the week’ (same as last week).
For someone who I took time to explain Consent at Intake & diaries, I wonder what will happen when I start asking about account numbers.
The annoying part is each time I pass that cluster of light manufacturers, I see another firm owner who met eligibility requirements. This firm owner was the most excited and forthcoming in that cluster. My FS is my witness. I highlighted his very friendly disposition after making him understand the lack of immediate financial gratification in both verbal & written reports at Intake,
He has even called to ask why I don’t come to his firm, and yesterday when I met him with my ‘shakara’ firm owner who dribbled me yet again, I barely could finally look him in the eye and tell him his firm wasn’t selected
A tale of 2 firms in a light manufacturing cluster line who meet eligibility criteria; one is very friendly/forthcoming/willing, yet wouldn’t be selected for a long 1 year diaries research, while the other who I have labored so much to impart my gospel to, is showing me the ‘I am barely interested in your 1-year study’ body language.
I wonder how I’ll be passing the same route weekly for 1 year to go and beg/patronize a firm owner who is always ‘very busy’ or unavailable for data, when another firm owner (the most receptive in that cluster) won’t even be selected at all.
I had an interesting conversation with my respondent today who was keen to get the phone call from L-IFT so that she can update her records on the FINBIT App and compare it with the record of the one I am updating. She insisted that she was not comfortable with me recording her information on my phone without her doing the same on her own phone. She however became calm and allowed the interview session to go on after I assured her that she will get the phone call in no distant time and start using the Finbit App.
I got to one of my firms this morning for their weekly report. My initial respondent had delegated the organization’s admin to always attend to me. We did the account setup on Monday and I asked for their income and expenses from 9th till the current date, and the admin manager called the co-owner to ask for permission. The doctor called me immediately to confirm and said that their business is a new business and that they wouldn’t be comfortable sharing that information, and that someone came in some days ago asking similar information about their transactions and they later found out the person was from the government. He also mentioned that their business is a new business and they don’t want anything that would run them out of business. I reassured him that we are a private research organization and that all their information is treated with confidentiality. He said he would send the number of their senior administrator who is a lawyer so I can speak to her. Please remember me in your prayers.
I got to one of my firms now to get their weekly financial transactions. I met the business owner and he asked for my email address so he could forward all necessary information and transactions on an excel sheet. I chipped in that I would need the records from 9th to the 20th of August, then he said: “aha, why not a monthly report? You people are giving us a lot of work. Will there be a monthly report/advice from L-IFT?” I said that there wasn’t a monthly report but after one year, L-IFT would share its findings and give professional advice on how to make the business better. Then he said: “One year! That’s too long. What if we fold up before the end of one year?” Then I raised my voice saying “God will not let you fold up in Jesus’ name. You will not fold up!” They all started laughing at my reaction.
The business owner suggested that they would be glad if L-IFT could give them professional advice every three months of tracking their records as they are new in the business and would love to learn how to grow and stay afloat.
Last Saturday, I had an appointment with one of my respondents who chose Saturday to be the most convenient day for us to meet. So last Saturday I went out for account set up and he was comfortable with the discussion until it came to account.
I asked him if his firm has a separate account from his personal and he said NO and that he uses his personal account for business transactions also.
I calmly asked, “So sir how much do you have in that account and what are your saving goals?”
He paused what he was doing and said “young man, that’s my personal information. I can’t tell you that.” So I told him that I would give him time to think about this.
After so much explanation, we booked another appointment to see on Wednesday the 17th. I called on Tuesday evening to confirm his availability, but he didn’t pick up. I called again on Wednesday and he still didn’t pick up, so I called him yesterday and he said let’s meet today.
So I got there this morning and had to wait for him to open the shop and we started a conversation. After asking him about his transactions relating to his business and how he keeps records, he felt sorry for himself because he doesn’t know much about his business and he hasn’t seen any need for keeping records until this discussion with him.
So I offered to buy him a notebook from the neighboring shop, but he didn’t feel comfortable with that. He brought along a notebook and requested I teach him how to keep records. I was really proud of my efforts. So in the end I taught him.
Ibe Amaka Chinwe:
Today, the Enugu L-IFT team attended the graduation party of one of our firms; a private school. We had a swell time and danced with the little graduates.
The firm owner was very happy and thanked all the members of the L-IFT team.
I utilized the opportunity to solicit her continuous support and compliance with the weekly reporting through the FR.
All in all, it was a nice outing. Rice and stew were plenty.
I hope you remember the firm I declared some prayers for last week. I expected their weekly report in my email over the weekend as promised but I didn’t get it. The firm was my first assignment today, I opened their door and saw the firm owner working on his laptop in one corner. He looked up and smiled then apologized for not sending the report as promised. He called his front desk to get me a drink so that we would work on the report together as I said I wouldn’t leave their office without the report. So he offered me a seat and began to compile the report on his laptop. Compiling sales and expenses from our week one up to the current date really put him in a bad state comparing it to the amount he invested in starting up. He said he feels bad checking his business investment and what comes in as sales at the end of the month. Please note that this is a less than 3-month-old business. I encouraged him and also shared some tips to help increase his sales. I told him that, with time, the sales would build up and that he should keep hope alive. So he asked if the FINBIT app can be used for all their transactions plus monthly reports for free. For now, they are using a paid version of an accounting app and would prefer a free application. He finally compiled the report then sent it to my mail before I left there. FYI, I also took my clothes for laundry as a way to support their business.
Code: NA (General experience)
We landed in Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu around 8:20 AM. I am waiting for a friend who is a military officer to come and pick me up. I am hanging on one side and making some assessments on the situation of the ‘sit at home’ order with the people around. The guy came and we started to drive out and before we got too far from the airport I started to see some tires on fire. And before you know it 3 vehicles (Hilux) of military personnel came around. The sound at that point in time was karrarraf-karrarraf. They were adjusting/hooking their guns. Luckily enough, all the protesters were scattered into various streets. So I was somehow at peace. We kept moving, in the middle of army officers. By the way, they were my schoolmates but I felt a bit scared.
Let me thank our team in Enugu for their effort to work on Monday last week despite the situation. Please, I urge you to remain calm and stay at home every Monday morning until you realize it’s safe, and make sure you value and respect your health. Your safety is the first priority. As Health and Safety professionals, our belief is that “everybody is responsible for his/her safety and he is the first to account for it.”
So I went to the firm of one of my very receptive respondents, exchanged pleasantries, and got to the business of the day. After taking note of her financial transactions from her record book, she asked for my ID card and said that she wanted to snap it because her son is not comfortable with it. I had to reassure her again that her data is safe. While at it, her son came in. With joy in her, she pointed at him as she’d just seen a redeemer and said, “oh! My son is here”. I started from the meaning of L-IFT to the very last thing I knew about it, not forgetting to reassure him. I gave him “assurance”, but not the Chioma type though, till he was at peace and his mom was more at ease. Told her of my next visit and all and we made our goodbyes.
My 1st respondent for today was enthusiastic as usual, FS was with me so I introduced her. He felt happy that henceforth he will do proper documentation since I’m now his accountant and auditor. He wants to employ a secretary that will help in documenting too, as it is cumbersome for him to do documenting and do treatment and sales at the same time.
For my second respondent today, it is his birthday and he reminded me that by saying, “Today is my birthday. won’t you sing for me?” I had totally forgotten because I didn’t keep it in mind. So I wished him well and I was given a birthday package.
I, the FM, and my supervisor visited one of my respondents today who is into pig farming. He narrated to us how he has lost almost all his pigs due to the swine flu outbreak currently ravaging their farms. He told us that the outbreak usually happens every year between June and July. The respondent further told us that with this experience, by April next year, he intends to sell the majority of his pigs leaving just the piglets so as to minimize loss if the outbreak happens next year.
One of the business owners I did FINBIT setup for yesterday was really happy that we would help to keep his financial records for the next 12 months. We finished setting up his account then I asked for the transactions of the first and second week. He said he couldn’t remember but he has a staff member that usually takes care of the business expenses. So he called the staff member and scrolled through his bank transactions to give details of expenses incurred by the business. He then delegated the staff member to keep the records on a daily basis. While we were working on the transactions, he said I made him miss his secretary who was also detailed in keeping his business records, and that since she left, he has not taken it as a point of duty to keep financial records due to the nature of his job. In conclusion, he said he would be glad to have me keep his records and that he even wouldn’t mind paying me to do that.