Respondents’ Stories Shared by the Field Team: 24 June 2021 – 28 June 2021

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Today’s story is about respondent ET998, who is engaged in the business of injera production. She is 32 years old, a mother of three, and is raising her niece with her children. She is a hard-worker. In the past, she has travelled to many Arab countries and faced many difficulties. After she came here, she is still running “injera” making business, even though it is a tedious and challenging job. Among the many challenges she is facing, the market fluctuates dramatically every time new things are created, earns a small profit from her work but pays a high government tax, significant escalation of raw materials’ costs and such factors made her job difficult. Today, as usual, we went to see her, even though she had a job, but she was willing to cease her job for a while and talk with us. During the conducting of our interview we noticed that she didn’t record her financial transaction properly and we asked her why; her reason was that it was the hardest thing to write in a notebook, that she could not write Amharic well. We told her that there was a slight misunderstanding about what we had said before and that we explained again to her that she could write in the language she wanted.
During our discussion about her business she mentioned a lot of challenges including lack of customer demand, unavailability of disciplined employee, economic inflation, and  other related  things made a difficulty to run her business. She tried to explain to us that the electricity power fluctuation is also the common obstacle. The “injera” baking stove was damaged frequently. This issue made her maintenance cost high. But she is trying to minimize her cost at least by eliminating the expense paid to the technicians by observing them how to fix and teaching herself. Currently our respondent is focusing to manage her challenges and she is keeping her encouragement to face those hindrances and being sustainable with her business.
Today’s story is about respondent ET965, who is engaged in business cereal milling. He is 27 years old, and single. In 2014 he joined “Wachamo University”, but he left his University without completing his education and started business producing of cereals specially pulse and exporting with his family by taking a farm land from the government at Bale zone, but they engaged in this business only for four years In 2018 because their property was damaged by a political conflict; they lost all their farm and machines. Without giving up in 2019, he rented a working area and bought two cereal milling machine and started new a business. Now he is working hard and has recovered from his past loss. His aim is to reduce women’s tiredness by buying latest milling, husking, and grinding machines to serve his customers fast.
During our discussion he mentioned a lot of challenges like economic inflation, income he gets from his service not being enough, his expenses related with maintenance and spare parts being very high, and governmental business policies not being suitable for work. Currently he is focusing to manage his challenges and working hard to change his business and making his business competitive with others.
ET258 represents a person who is engaged on cement blocks production business sector. He is 28 years old and is married. Before he started this business, his income source was from selling used or worn out clothes on street. But later, he started a business of cement blocks production in 2019 with a capital of 40,000birr. At that time, he had employed few production workers for the business, but later increased to six workers which could be considered as a progress indicator. 
He had been facing and proceeding through many challenges to see the fruits of the business till today. Up until the past December of 2020, the business was in the right track and good position, and the income from the business has grown to a capital of 200,000birr. However, the business firm is now facing extreme challenges that prohibits the owner from running the business. The main and foremost reasons behind are the shortage of cement and price increments on other raw materials. Starting from the past two months, the government has closed many cement distributing firms from which the respondent was getting the input and gave the chance for a very few wealthy individuals to distribute the cement. This is affecting the journey of the business since the access to get the cement is disturbed. Consequently, three of the firm’s workers are currently suspended. And also the owner is in a position of taking loans in order to make the business continue its operation.
History of respondent with ID: ET 541;
He is 41 years old and a father for two children. He is engaged in a metal work business with his co owner, using 19 torn machines and two Toyota cars; one pickup and another D4d to facilitate the business. These two co-owners have a clear distinction way of recording their business transactions from private expenditures, as well as record all transactions in different recording books independently. Then they cross-check each other at night. They pay weekly salaries every Saturday to their workers who are above 15 in number. Whenever we go to his business, we can take photos of payroll sheets and record from recording books. For this respondent having a phone interview is both impossible and unthinkable due to his transaction being huge in number. Incase the respondent gets busy or is not present, we can take photo as he has ordered his workers to support and give the recording book and payroll sheet to us. Whenever we visit this business, every machine is  functional. This respondent feels happy and want to install FINBIT App at the time we described about the function of this application and showed the uploaded transaction data. He said “this application will make our task of recording transactions easier and effective with out taking much time.”
ET 185 – is a private school sector;
Three years ago the respondent was thinking about the idea of opening private school. At that time, she was teaching in a governmental technical school. After she retired, she planed to open her own business that matches with her previous profession, with her two former colleagues. She planed to open private school. In the beginning, she collected some money to rent a house and open up a nursery. At that time, she was providing a service with one teacher for 38 nursery kids. After that, she understood the benefit of the business and planned to expand it by saving the income that she had gained from the business. She bought some materials used for kindergarten and she renewed school classrooms. Then after, in 2020 she added some employees and expanded nursery school in to  kindergarten. The number of student is increasing from time to time. And currently, 64 students are getting service from this private school.
The gross monthly income from school is around 35,000 birr. She hired five employees working fulltime and totally paying 9000 birr per month.
The respondent is critically facing a challenge with the late payment from the customers and the employees repeatedly asking for salary raising. The other challenge is shortage of classrooms. This makes them not to further expand the businesses. In the future, she is planning to rent a wide compound with numbers of classrooms to increase the number of students and to raise the income.
She is among the cooperative respondents of mine on data collection.
The Story of ID:ET216, Milling service; 
The owner of this firm is a young man with a strong desire to work and change. He is married and has a child. He was born and raised in “Debre Markos” (it is the zonal city of Amhara regional state) and his parents are farmers after graduating from the 10th grade, he was trained in technical and vocational wood work for 3 years. As soon as he graduated, he left the competition after two of his fingers got injured in a machine accident while he was competing for a job as a teacher, then he started working for the government agency, but he was not happy with this job because he did not have enough salary.
Finally, he came to “Harari” to seek for a better job in 2012G.C. In 2013G.C, he started working as a daily laborer in a milling service. After a year, he began trading grain and cereals, then in 2019G.C., he bought his scale and rented  other milling machine and building and started his current business. He earns around 80000-90000 birr monthly from this business and pays 6000 birr as a salary for one employee and 6000 birr rent per month.
Although, they get money from the user, same people are working in his firm as daily laborers and casual workers. So he is happy with his work because it gives him spiritual satisfaction but there are some problems not solved yet like power problem and lack of market linkage.
No matter what,  he has a plan to grow his business .