1. Making A Business Deal

Day: Thursday, November 20, 2014


This Thursday was the vendor monthly meeting for all the vendors. We wanted to meet with them before their schedules got busy from selling the new magazine. The meeting was to be a quick one while they had a break for lunch. They would be there from 9am-2pm, so we did not want them to lose more time than needed. We looked forward to meeting with them after Monday’s home visits to keep up the momentum and keep them excited for this project.

Cast of Characters

  • Xolani– Big Issue Vendor, co-researcher
  • Zoliwe– Big Issue Vendor
  • Nosiphiuro– Big Issue Vendor
  • Nolusapho– Big Issue Vendor
  • No-Senior– Big Issue Vendor
  • Fikiswa– New Big Issue Vendor, co-researcher
  • Themba– Big Issue Vendor, co-researcher
  • Zikiswa– Big Issue Vendor
  • Jakoef– Big Issue Vendor
  • Lavista – Big Issue Vendor, co-researcher
  • Leslie – Big Issue Vendor
  • Trudy– Managing Director of The Big Issue
  • Tarryn– Writer of the Vendor of The Month articles


Big Issue South Africa offices conference room


We entered the Big Issue with the expectations of having a quick meeting with the vendors to explain when we would be meeting next, what we expected them to have for the meeting, and then show pictures from our visits to their homes on Monday. We walked into a crowded vendor monthly meeting. It was hard to walk into the living room, so we headed up to the conference room to get ready for our meeting. We wanted to talk with Trudy at first about our plans and the compensation for the vendor mentor group. Gianna had gone down to see where she was and ran into a teary eyed Trudy. Confused at why she was upset she investigated more and discovered that one of The Big Issue vendors had been stabbed in the heart by his girlfriend the night before, and had unfortunately passed away. This news shocked everyone in the building and worried us for how effective our meetings could be if people were in a compromised emotional state. With this in mind we waited in the conference room to see if our meetings would still go on.

Trudy walked into the room after collecting herself from hearing the news and we showed her our plan for the rest of our project. She seemed to really be on board and was excited about what was to come. She told us to focus more on getting the mentor group to fully understand bringing in pictures and adding captions, then eventually voice overs to them. She said if we did not get to the written text that was okay because Tarren could write that for the vendors. After we had the okay for this plan we started talking about the mentor group and compensation for them. We really recruited for Fikiswa to be a part of the group and Trudy said she would talk to the vendors about her officially joining. She was nervous about the R100 not being enough for the vendors, but she went with it. After this she went back to the meeting and said she would bring up the vendors when they were finished and explain all this to them.

We were waiting in the conference room for a few hours while the meeting finished up. We started getting nervous that the vendors weren’t going to come up because of how long the day was and the news they had been given earlier. However, Xolani came into the room and greeted us with a friendly smile and a handshake. He seemed excited to see us and this made us feel better. He said that he was waiting for food and that the rest of the group would come up after they had eaten. After a few minutes our group started making their way into the room with laughs and smiles.

We decided to start the meeting by showing a slideshow of some of the pictures and videos they took during our visits to their homes. They all were extremely excited to see themselves and all the photos they took. Their smiles were wide and whenever they saw someone’s house they would point at them and laugh or do a little cheer. It was great to have them see the progress and fun they had throughout that day. After this Trudy came in and we got down to business.

Vendors watching slideshow of home visits

Vendors watching slideshow of home visits

She started the meeting by discussing the mentor group and that the vendors were chosen for certain reasons; they can translate and explain our project, have attended all the meetings, and have a willingness to work with us. She told them that the mentor group is Lavista, Themba, Xolani, and officially Fikiswa. The vendors seemed rather receptive of this. Then the topic of money and the schedule for the end of the project came up and the conversation got a bit heated. At first the vendors thought that they had to come in everyday starting December 1 for 4 hours and would only get R100 for the day. This earned an extremely negative reaction especially from Xolani who makes a lot more than that. They said it was the new magazine and they couldn’t lose that much time on their pitch. We had to correct them over all the yelling and say that there was a total of six meetings but the whole group would only come to two meetings. However the vendors who aren’t mentors wanted to be paid for their time because the meetings would be 4 hours. They did not want to lose that much time on their pitch, so we called Scott in the middle of the meeting to see if we could pay for all the vendors to meet. It was difficult to calm them down about this topic and everything felt really rushed and we did not want to have the vendors upset with us. Scott agreed that we would pay R100 to each person for every meeting. The vendors agreed with this and calmed a bit. We felt very anxious through the whole conversation because we did not know if we would lose our vendors because of this. But once the money was figured out we all relaxed. We then gave them a schedule for December and they signed the co-researcher contracts so they were completely aware of all the details.

Signing of the co-researcher agreement

Signing of the co-researcher agreement

After our meeting with the vendors finished, we met with Tarren to talk with her about our project, the website platform, and her involvement in the project. Since she knows a lot of the vendors and has written and interviewed them in the past she will be great to help with the written bios for each vendor’s profile. She was easy to talk with and really liked our plan. She was also impressed by how much we have connected with all the vendors and gotten them to open up to us. We will work with her to think of interview questions and get the most out of the vendors.

It was a very exhausting day dealing with our first major controversy with the vendors. It was great that Trudy could be there to help mediate and be the boss. They really listen to her and respect what she has to say. She had to yell a few times to get their attention because of the side conversations that kept occurring. In the end we came to a quick agreement that made us and most importantly the vendors happy.

After a hard days work

After a hard days work


Ari: This was a very sad and weird day. It was a day where a death of a vendor was recognized but scholarships and awards were also able to be presented. At first we were not even sure that we would be able to meet with the vendors about the future meetings and compensation. We waited in the conference room for hours just waiting for anything to be a definite. Finally the vendors started pouring in. They came in and, though there was a sad air to their presence, we were once again greeted with smiles and laughter. At times I thought that we were going to lose the vendors, that they were all going to get up and walk away from our project, especially when Trudy was talking about the time requirements that would be needed from the mentors and vendors. But once they understood that they would only be needed for a small chunk of their time it evened out and they were once again happy. Especially after we agreed to compensate each one for their time. We did run into the issue however that R100 was almost not accepted. The vendors were very upset and that was another point in time that I was worried we may lose them. But yet again they pulled through. They all agreed to the conditions and signed the Co-Researcher contracts that explain they would need to arrive on time and stay the whole time for them to get paid. We did however lose two vendors from the initial mix and that was sad. Steven and Thelma did not show up and unfortunately won’t be continuing with our project.

Gianna: Today I had a rollercoaster of emotions. When I found out that a vendor had died, I was almost positive that we were not going to have a meeting. I was so disappointed and sad because I was excited to share our plan with the vendors. We weren’t going to have another chance to meet with them until December 1st, so it was important we met with them today to progress the project. I was stressed as we waited for Trudy to come talk to us to give us the “final verdict.” I was amazed that she still wanted to call the meeting. I was happy that she liked our plan. I was nervous with the initial reaction of the vendors when we told them the remaining time commitment for our stay here. I was finally relieved and happy when all the vendors agreed to our plan. I learned a lot today, especially about negotiation. I learned that although the vendors did not seem happy about our first offer, to not give up or give in. It is important to negotiate to a point where the best outcome for everyone is made. This was my first time doing a “business deal” but I was happy to have Trudy, my team, and my advisors there to help me.

Nadjia: From the beginning, the day had a weird vibe to it, We walked in and saw Trudy and Nikki talking quietly in the front office so we awkwardly walked up the stairs to the conference room. When we realized the reason for this feeling was because a vendor was killed the night before, I did not know what to say. I felt a bit nauseous and was extremely nervous about how Trudy and the vendors would react. Trudy was visibly upset and I commended her for continuing to have her meeting with us and coming back up to explain the whole mentor program to the 12 vendors. The beginning of the meeting with the vendors, when we showed them some of the footage from their homes, was my favorite part. They all laughed and smiled when they saw their faces and homes and it was great to see. After that part however, I got a bit uncomfortable because we brought up the topic of compensation, which is personally a topic I don’t like to discuss. But I was grateful for Trudy being there and helping to gain control when the vendors got a bit rambunctious. It was amazing that she was able to have the vendors agree on meeting with us for four hours.

Continue to Scene 2: “It is Such an Honor Having the Opportunity to Learn”