When we first met Ismaila, a welder, in 2016, he was trying very hard to establish his business but was always running from one thing to another; had little idea of how to cost a job, and was struggling to make ends meet.
Ismaila had started a welding business in 2015 with a grant he received following being runner up in a business competition run in the village by The Marlborough Brant Group (funded by the Arkleton Trust). The grant had allowed him to purchase a building container to use as a storage unit for his business, plus purchase one welding machine. He had previously received technical training in welding.
Response about his levels of confidence at the end of the training:
– “Yes by development more ideas, planning, focus”
Follow up interview 2 months post training:
Ismaila now felt able to focus on customer satisfaction, Human Resources, and how to manage the workshop. He felt he now had more customers: “jobs keep on coming”. He said that he thinks about his competitors and compares what they are doing, and makes sure he stays in front. He overcomes the completion by giving quality products and being on time. He now has several employees but still only has one welding machine and grinder. He feels he now needs more equipment and his other problem is the erratic electricity supply. However, he said that he is working towards getting his new equipment (including a generator and a different welding machine). He very proudly showed us his bank statements which showed some savings towards this new equipment (approx. Ds49,000 – or £830). He says he keeps referring to the tree (a planning tool used in training) and then targets particular customers, looks at the benefits required for that customer group and “comes to their level”. With more staff he now employs “a division of labour”, not doing everything himself. He said that he talks to the staff every morning with “a smiling face” and shares out the work. He reflects that before the training he didn’t plan but now understands planning. He also focuses on one contract before moving on to the next job. Each staff member also has his or her own focus area. He now uses a cashbook, manages the finances, with all cash sales written down and receipts kept for expenses and all savings going into the bank. He has also registered his business with the authorities and pays his tax on staff salaries. He lists all costs for each job and knows what profit he has made from each job. He said “finance is backbone of my business”.