Respondents’ Stories Shared by the Field Team: 30 June 2021 – 06 July 2021

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The story of respondent with firm ID ET416:
The respondent is young and 28 years old. He is married and has one child. He is engaged on blacksmith work since 2019 which is co-owned with seven members. Before beginning this job, he was employed as a daily laborer in one blacksmith workshop which is owned by another person. After working a long time as a daily laborer, he and the other members of the firm owners contributed their money which they used to save for a long time and bought production materials and began their own job. Their current weekly maximum income is 4000 ETB. This happened because of the shortage of their capital which limited them to buy raw materials to produce different products and made them to wait for their customers to bring the raw materials. Based on their customers order,  they produce materials and get money only for the service they render to their customers. In addition, during rainy season, since their workshop is not good enough to protect from rain, they suffer a lot. The other problems they encountered during the rainy season is since the farmers once bought ploughing materials, they used to plough in the summer season, they were mostly jobless and their income significantly decreased. This firm owner explained that their current working condition is only for daily subsistence.
ET166 is a liquid soap production sector:
She is 34 years old, a mother of two. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied chemistry. She and her husband have been married for 10 years and have previously worked together in a company. After some time, they decided to start their own business and borrow 400,000 birr from SACCO/ cooperative by making her mother’s house as a bond. The main reason for their resignation from employment is because they couldn’t have time for their private stuffs like raising their children, attending their social life and so on due to their inability to manage their time. It’s been a year since they started the business, but there were some things that challenged them and they even decided to quit, but because they convinced their mother, she had to repay the loan, so they worked hard and made a small profit. Among the challenges, the first is the high price increase on chemicals, the second is the lack of market linkages showing a tendency for customers to stay away when there is a price increase on raw materials and the other is that her staffs are not permanent and the workload is too much on her when they are not there. 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. What she told us after we finished recording was that she was happy that she noticed changes in herself after she started recording all her transactions.
ET819 is a Metal work business initiated in 2002 as portable service dealer within Dire Dawa town:
Initially, the business owner invested 8000 ETB to buy welding machine and after 5 months, the investment continued by buying a grinder with more than 4000 ETB. 
He is married and has a University graduated daughter. Many hassles are passed by him to reach today before joining this business. Until 1991, he was a national security officer in military house and the EPDRF regime put him to jail for 2 years without sentencing him guilty while it controlled the country. Even after he got released from jail, for a year, he had been unemployed and due to that he was psychologically affected. Fortunately, he met with his previous Eritrean friend who had a garage in Dire Dawa town, and his friend invited him to work together with him with some amount of salary payment; and then, he started to work together with him for almost 5 years.
In 1999, his Eritrean friend recommended him to another garage which belonged to his “Adere” friend and he started to work as an inspector and a driver of the garage for 2 years. And, as I tried to mention on the first paragraph, in 2002, for 2 years he began to serve as a portable welder in Dire Dawa town. Then after, in 2005, he again joined the very famous political opponent party and for the second time he got arrested for two weeks.  
After these all these struggles, he rented the current working place by 50 ETB per month with that time’s rental price rate. But currently he pays 7000 ETB for lowest administrative body or Kebele per annum for the Iron sheet house rented from them. Among the limitations to expand the business, the respondent doesn’t have a showroom to display his products and the working house is too narrow. He has 2 to 3 employees working in daily wage rate in a regular manner when order is present. The owner at this time has an estimated capital exceeding 250,000 ETB and he never took credit from anybody for the sake of business expansion and so on.  
“Practical life teaching experience makes you an iron man!!!”
ET339 is one of my very best respondent so far.
She’s a 35 years old woman, has 2 kids and whose engaged in a day care service. For the past few months, they did not work during Saturdays but now they included Saturday as well. It has been over 2 years since she started this business with her husband. She gives a day care service for 40 up to 43 children aged from 2 years up to 4 years including her own children as well. So the kids’ parents drop them in the morning by having their lunch boxes and they pick them later on from 5:30-6:00PM. Sometimes some parents will pay only for a day service while the others pay only for their Saturday’s stay. Anyhow, my respondent has informed me that this business is very effort taking and struggling in order to take care of 40-43 kids everyday. She had 4 employees but 2 of them resigned currently. In addition to this business, she’s trying to work on other types of businesses like opening her own vegetable shop and to go to Dubai and to import some electronics and to sell it here. She has a lot of ambition and effort to grow and to succeed her business.
ET449 Banana Distributor: 
This respondent is a 35 years old who wants to do any work and grow up. He is married and has a child. He was born and raised in Dire Dawa, and was raised by his grandmother after his father and mother divorced when he was only in the 7th grade, and after that he had to do a lot of had work to help himself.
In 2019G.C.,the banana distributor investor who came from America hired him with a salary of 4,000 birr per month. After working for 2 years, he experienced well in this job so he decided to open his own business. He borrowed 200,000 birr from his friend and came to Harar in search of a better market and started his current business in January 2021. He works by importing raw banana from the Gamo zone of the Southern Nations (SNNPR), and ripening them and distributing them to retailers. But he is not happy with his work because his workplace is out of town and there is not enough market and the item sold is perishable and often lost. The market situation is not stable, transportation and related cost are constantly increasing. Hence, all of this is a headache, but he has no plan to quit.
ET1280 is a visionary entrepreneur women who owns a laundry business in Addis Ababa. She has a Master’s degree and also she has more than three years’ experience on laundry business. She always creates new system to cope up with her challenges and expand her business. For instance: during the outbreak of corona, number of her customers declined; so as to increase her customers and sustain her business profit, she started home delivery launder service. This action helped to sustain her former profit. Currently, she is working to enhance her business accessibility by opening up a new branch to collect clothes. She also tries her best to create a harmony working environment for her workers. Moreover, unlike many respondents, she has a good experience of recording her transactions and calculating her business’s monthly and quarterly profit.
I want to share a story of a woman owner (Firm ID-ET321) who engaged in construction material (cement blocks) production business sector.
This respondent is 34 years old, married and has 3 children. She started this business in 2016. Her cement block production is famous in Adama city. She is working with her husband and has 24 employees. They are producing high quality cement block and due to this, its sells price has 2birr difference per block from other cement block production areas. They sell one cement block for 12 birr and others sell it for 10 birr. They get around  360,000-500,000 birr income per month. They pay minimum 60000 birr salary per month for employees. Now they have borrowed 4,000,000 birr from COOP bank which will be paid in two years and bought a new machine with 3,000,000 birr using from the money they borrowed to increase their production. During their production they are also facing challenges. From these, key challenges are; price increase of raw materials (last year they were buying 200 quintals of cement in 60,000 birr but now they are buying 200 quintals of cement in 120,000- 140,000 birr). The second challenge is decrease in customer demand due to increase in cement price, and many started constructions are stopped. They use two types of financial recording forms: computer spread sheet and note/exercise books and maintain financial records daily.
History of a respondent with ID number ET715:
He is a young and friendly person who show smiling face to us. For instance asks detail about us and asks how the study is going with its status. This respondent is engaged in a furniture and wood works in general i.e. making beds, desks, lockers, chairs etc. with different styles and sizes.
We encourage him to get further and give detail information because he wants to tell general sum of income and expense without classifying transactions having different costs and transaction types as well as does not tell the exact figure and rather say ‘around this much’; ‘around’ is a word frequently used by him. We must always ask for details otherwise he wants to conclude the interview by saying ‘no transaction at all’. We have been encouraging him to tell us every detail, as a result he is improving, but still there are unclear transactions.
ET229 is a one of our respondent which is engaged in printing and advertising service. This firm is owed by a couple, they both work in their firm. The owners use to be classmates in college and they were close friends and through time they become more than friends, they fall in love and started dating. In 2009 they both graduated in Management information system. After graduation thing wasn’t going the way they planned, they couldn’t find a job so this challenge concerned them, actually all Ethiopian fresh graduates go through this hardship. Because of the challenge, they talked about starting a business. They start researching/observing the market to figure out the profitable market type they should enter, so they decided that the adverting sector is related to them, but they needed money while holding on that. 
Unfortunately, after a year (2010), both of them got accepted to work in a government institution by their field which is (MIS) Management Information System. While they were employees, they got married and they worked for 6 months in the government institution. They saved up some money from their salary and from other places, their family gave them 100,000birr to start their business. They both quit their job, they rent a small place and buy some mandatory materials just for the start up since their start-up was not enough to buy all the materials, they worked for one year and a half, but the location wasn’t in the right market place so they changed their location to a place called Mikael and they hire an employee to assist the office. The husband work on the marketing assembly but the business wasn’t doing well, no profit at all and when they comprehended that there business was on having a loss, they were forced to fire their one and only employee because they couldn’t pay her and they decided not to hire anyone until they are stable.
But still the income they earned was not enough for rent, even they couldn’t buy a machinery. So they try to survive by using their savings. After 3months of hardship, they got a place which is in front of a street, great location, around “02 Mazoria” and they started right away and moved their, and the business got well smoothly; they bought machinery for the advertising but unfortunately the political conflict arose so because of the maelstrom, shops where closed and their rent was 7200 birr per month. Because of the fracas, they were forced to pay rent even though they closed it. They were about to give up on this business. When the conflict decreased, they opened the place but still COVID came so their work place got closed again. After the locked down, they started working and at that season, people were ordering for wedding, birthdays, funerals and so on. They kind of recovered a bit but they couldn’t hire one so the husband is in charge of the marketing and the wife manages the office so they minimized their expense.  By enduring the challenge, they are still in the market even though they haven’t recovered 100%. In addition, they don’t have a plan in extending their work place but if business goes well, they will work even more in the market, they still have faith even though the election has injured the business, we hope for our country to be harmonized.
ET642: she is in a leather production. There were an incubation program for a new firm which is in a start-up stage; so the primary aim of this program is to create a sustainable profit to the owners, and create more job for the community. Intended major outcomes include improved performance of incubated business (increased sales, innovative products, branches, expanded market and other), increase in the number of additional jobs, and improved contribution to the local economy, the competition and incubation program has been implemented in Addis Ababa, Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, Sidama and Tigray Region state. 
Our respondent applied to get this opportunity. There was an evaluation process for the preliminary selection and from all the applicants, only 80 entrepreneurs were selected from the first scan session and they all got a call, so did this respondent. They informed her that there will be a presentation for the investors and so on. She was busy so couldn’t prepare an appropriate Power Point and she went alone when she arrived there. Most of them are with their families, beloved one and they even brought samples, they were well prepared because of that she wasn’t that confident, she heard they only wanted 20 entrepreneurs so she lost her hope. They gave her 3 minutes to explain about her company, she was a bit nerves but she used her time well and finished before 3 minutes and they asked her to show her work but she didn’t take anything but fortunately the bag she wore was her product so she showed them and they looked happy she said. Surprisingly she got nominated and received an email, we are so happy for her.
So after the training, based on their performance, there will be a prize; for the first place 200,000ETB, second place 175,000ETB, third place 150,000ETB, fourth place 125,000 ETB and fifth place 100,000 ETB. We wish her a good luck.
Short story of firm ET758: 
The firm owner produces household and office furniture. He is 40 years old. He has two children. He was employed and worked in a car repair and maintenance service 20 years ago. But one day while he was working, bomb exploded and he got seriously injured. After extensive treatment, he had survived, but the accident was so severe that he lost his precious limbs (i.e., one of his hands and legs). After that, his family took him to Addis Ababa and placed him to live with his relatives in order to make him forget the event. During that, he was young and 17 years old. There was a sport training center near to his residence in Addis Ababa that he used to watch when the training was taking place. In his three years stay in Addis Ababa, he was encouraged to join the club and received the training and got a lot of sport skills.
He made a lot of money, bought few tools for eight thousand birr, and went into metal working for many years. He also employed others under his supervision. He also created jobs for others.
Then after, he got back to Adama and started to collect used materials like car battery and other different materials and started to produce sport equipment. After he recovered from his injury, he opened his own sport training center in Adama and started to train people by receiving 20birr from each trainees per month and accumulated 8000 birr in seven years of his service on the training.
With the support of his family and friends, he opened a furniture business in 2018. He had a lot of work skills and he worked as a painter being supported by canine, and his wife assisted in the sale. 
After some time, due to a sinus illness, he was unable to continue his work, and he was forced to  hire other people. 
In addition to the furniture, he is now working as a broker that helps him as a conditional income generating activity  to support his family, as there is little market on the furniture business and his income is declining. 
Additionally, he has skills of taking part in the work of arts and played his role as an actor in two films so far. Still he is so energetic and visionary.
ET191(Bread Bakery): 
The owner of the firm, she has 4 children and had been working for many years. Her husband has a milling machine and he is a cereals wholesaler. Her in-laws have given her the laid foundation to start the business. She had minimum contribution just to start the business, but her in-laws provided her with the working place for the business.  Initially, she utilized firewood to bake a bread, before she shifting to electricity. Flour was supplied to her by her sister in-law and the credit gets collected from her once after all the sale gets completed.
She covers all her social and family expenses by herself without relaying on her husband’s support. She is very pleased by her life style. 
She is administering 4 employees under her and the business has almost 250,000 ETB capital and she is encouraging other females to open their own personal business. 
But many bread bakeries are opened and her business income is minimized. This created market computation and for the business work to become less attractive.
The other main problem is electricity interruption, “it is hindering our production capacity and still this problem is not solved and on windy days the electricity still interrupts.” Due to this reason the butter stays in the refrigerator without baking it and gets damaged. 
She has good initiation for the project running on and providing all necessary information for me accordingly, with some limitations of income report transparency.
ET162 is one of my respondent whose engaged in traditional garment production works. They have a large working place for making of the traditional clothes. They were 10 members when they started the business 6 years ago. The respondent has said they used to record each of their financial transactions everyday and will be checking it in every Saturday during earlier times especially before the appearance of the Covid-19. 
However, the pandemic had really affected their business very much that now a days they are paying to buy for some raw materials from their own pocket money. Sometimes each of the 10 members contribute equally in order to buy for raw materials and for some other important expenses they have. 
My respondent is hoping that their business would become as before and that they would be working hard to sustain their business and become profitable.