Sunday, October 7, 2007

Bob ends duel with Alongs

AMIDST the announcements of several new economic and growth corridors coming up in the country, there are also sad stories of companies closing down. Chased by creditors, both institutional and individuals (read Alongs), these entrepreneurs are calling it a day.

I know a few who are still struggling to make ends meet. One had to scale down his operation by giving employees half pay and told to take long Raya leave. If they get job offers, they are free to go and start afresh.

Bob, a character I had highlighted before, is one entrepreneur who was forced to cease operations. Declined credit by banks, blacklisted by the likes of CTOS even though he had cleared himself of those debts a long time ago, and chased relentlessly by Along, Bob celebrates this Raya as a beaten (though not out) businessman.

The last year or so has been the worst he had ever experienced. Bob survived through heavy borrowings from Alongs. For a brief spell, he couldn't tell whether he would survive especially when the Alongs turned nasty and threatening. His three-story office was almost gutted after a kerosene can was used to start a fire about three months ago.

This was the last straw. Bob has decided to sell his operations to a foreign party. He's not making profit but he gets enough to reclaim his sanity and save his live. By the end of Ramadhan, all the Alongs would have been paid. As do several more big creditors.

He's taking a short break. He wants to enjoy a day out with his family without having to fear for his and their lives. He wants to take things easy for awhile.

What next,. I asked him. Small time agriculture, he said. He wants to try his hand at some herb gardening and maybe go into agriculture trade. He has relatives and freinds who seem happy in their agricuture business. If I can't sell the produce, at least I can eat them and feed my family, Bob said.

He's also afraid of doing business using political connections. He found out that there's a limit to political patronage in his business. If you want to get big projects and make big money, you have to spend big money to secure those deals, he argued.

"Enough is enough. I want to go below the radar and work quietly. I've been hit too hard and I'm not sure if I can survive when competing on an uneven playing field. I want to rear some goats, plants some herbs, maybe rear some fish and feed my family. I'm not prepared to share my livelihood with Alongs and ungrateful people in authority anymore," he told me last week.

Well, what can I say except to wish him Good Luck. I hope he writes a book and give advice to young entrepreneurs. Ramadhan has offered him a period of contemplation. When Raya comes, Bob will assume a new role in a new business. Things can only get better!

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