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‘Life’s tough for small firms’ , MD, Tisco

Tisco Musical Instruments, Lagos, is an indigenous company that manufactures musical instruments from, ‘Omo Wood.’ In this chat with Franklin Alli, Mr. Taiwo Adebayo, Managing Director, shares the experiences of operating a small business in the country.

Tisco workers at work

What do you do here?
“Here, we manufacture African drums and bands such as triple-holder, talking drums, samba, Akwuba, Diya, etc.

Where do you source your raw materials from?
All our raw materials are sourced locally from Owo, in Ondo State. They include cordial wood which the Yorubas called ‘Omo wood,’ animal hides: buffalo cow, goat, deer and antelopes.  We also use welding machine, hand/ table grinder, saw dusts, chisel, electric spraying machine, hammer.  We don’t out-source. We do all the components here by ourselves.

Why the choice of Omo wood?
Omo wood is the best in making drum.  They are especially available in the deep forest at Owo, Ondo State. So we bring them from Owo. The Yorubas (ancestors) have long tested all woods and adjudged Omo wood as the best for manufacturing drum.

Where did you train, and how long have you been in this business?
I learnt the trade in my village, and came to Lagos in 2004 to establish the business.  My master is called Bode.  He is well known in the trade. In fact, people from Ondo State know the man very well because of his skillfulness in the craft.

How has the business been growing?
Well, we thank God, my brother. We have two show rooms at Church Street, Oshodi, and  we need help for further expansion.  Truly, we need funding help, if only governments is good, in terms of helping small business owners.  People that travel outside the country say small businesses account for majority of private sector employment.

In America, Japan and Europe, small firms contributes more than 60-70 per cent to the gross domestic products, conversely, here, life continues to be tough for small firms like mine.  It’s people with handworks that helps to move the economy forward, yet we’ re suffering. That’s the paradox. “See how am sweating, no light, and the heat arising from extreme weather condition’s too much. This should give you a peep into some of the ordeals small business people are going through.  We want governments to help us with loans we can repay at lower interest rate.

Who are your customers?
Our customers range from musicians, religious organisations like churches, mosques but we don’t sell to “unbelievers”, I mean people serving idols. We don’t sell to such people just because of money. People also come from USA, Canada, and neighbouring countries to buy from us .  They come for mass purchase.

Sometimes, they place order say 500 but we are not able to supply because of lack of money to finish the job.  Look at these jobs, it remain small for us to finish them but money is delaying completion of the work.  Some people we supply are owing us.

How much money would you need to expand the business?
At least half a million naira. If a bank can lend me N500, 000, I can manage it. Just manage it.

Other Challenges?
That’s what I’ve been saying- funding problem. No money to expand the business. Asides, multiple taxation is killing small businesses. Of course, if you are a good citizen, you are supposed to be paying your tax because tax helps governments to provide social amenities like what we’ve seen Governor Fashola doing in Lagos State, building infrastructures, yet taxes are too many.  Local governments collect shop permits, lock ups, trade permit, among others. It’s too much, they should try and curb these taxes.

To feed, clothe, pay house and shop rent, pay school fees, is not easy. So governments should do something about taxation so that we can enjoy Nigeria as the Americans who say “God blesses America.” We in this country should be able to raise our voice and cry out: “God bless Nigeria. I believe Nigeria will still be better tomorrow than America.”


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