“Rise, rise again, until lambs become lions.”

It was one of those mornings. I was curled up in my undersized bed, head and feet stretching the mosquito net, eyes closed, freezing. The temperature dropped over night and all I had was my tropical sleeping bag. “Why did they have to run the trains so early?” I asked myself, after being woken up by the horns from the train yard one street over.

Right then, my alarm goes off… 5:15am. Patting all over the bed beside me I find it and quickly switch it off. “Man, I really don’t want to get up” are the first words I utter to begin the day. I switch on my headlamp and look up at the net above me brightly illuminated against the faint shine of the metal roof.

The last few weeks can be summed up with one word: “challenging”. After a real, detailed profit and loss analysis was done and the picture at my partner organization looked very grim.

Coming in at the beginning of the project, I knew margins were very tight, and that costs for transportation and the cost to store 50 kg bags of poultry feed were high. There are many brands of poultry feed to choose from and pricing is extremely competitive. The price of raw materials for poultry feed also seemed to be on the increase.

To increase growth of the business my initial assumption was to grow the capacity of the business by implementing systems, improving processes and training their staff how to use tools readily available to them on computers. Even if profit margins were small, increasing management capacity could allow opening more outlets, improve profit, increase employment, and better support poultry farmers. It seemed to be working. The accounting wasn’t yet clamped down but it seemed that increasing volume of sales would be effective and new locations were being sited for future expansion.

Then we crunched the numbers and it was clear that the underlying assumption of my strategy did not survive the latest price increases and drop in sales.

I began to question, could I have prevented this? What was in my circle of influence, my circle of control? Now, many of these people I’ve worked with are at risk of losing their jobs unless we find a way to bring things out of loss.

To know that the job is to make it all work against all these forces can make staying in and sleeping for the week seem really attractive. Then I think of my colleagues who face the same challenges day-to-day. What’s that we all believe in? “Courageously commit”… right…time to get out of bed.