Key Informant Interviews

Interview Plan

The team began by developing a detailed interview plan based on the issues identified through background research and initial conversations with shop owners in the park. The depth of our questions, particularly those that focused on finances, were determined by balancing what was the most beneficial for our research with what we hoped would be comfortable for the shop owners to answer.  The co-researcher reviewed the interview plan, and also provided valuable insight in how to approach the spaza shop owners.

Initial Interview

We then conducted a test interview with one spaza shop that one co-researcher shopped at frequently.  This test interview was used to determine the effectiveness of the interview plan, identify any problems, and to hash out the logistics of our teams roles during the interview.  Our primary adjustment to the interview plan was to include more personal questions about the shop owner at the beginning, in an attempt to put the owner at ease before asking more specific questions about how they run their business.  We also rephrased several questions so shop owners would more easily be able to understand. In terms of roles, it was the most effective to have one team member leading the interview, another asking follow up questions, and the remaining two team members taking notes.  The interviews depended on the ability of the co-researcher to translate when the shop owners could obviously not understand English, which occurred periodically throughout each interview and rarely for the entire interview. The co-researcher initially approached the spaza shops, explained our connection to the VPUU and the Safe Node Area Committee, and turn the conversation over to the team. Our team rotated roles between interviews. We also continually refined our interview plan, based on new feedback.

Picking Shops and Collecting Data

We then began conducting in-depth interviews by identifying potential shops to speak with. We used a random number generator to choose fifteen shops, in order to enhance the credibility of the information gathered through interviews. However, while traveling through Monwabisi Park conducting these initial interviews, other opportunities to interview shops owners occasionally arose.  We conducted interviews until the information gathered became repetitive, and we were not hearing any new information. Ultimately our team conducted twelve interviews that were a combination of shops chosen randomly and shops that presented good opportunities for interviews. After every day in the field, the detailed interview summaries were typed for later analysis. Key data gathered from the interviews was input to a Microsoft Excel spread sheet so that we could more easily sort and compare information.

The interviewing process took five days, at the end of the phase, we began to identify the gaps that still existed in our base of knowledge, and prepared for the next step in our project, conducting focus group discussions with spaza shop owners.