When being in Mali, do it the Malian way, including the company related stuff.
So, I already had ordered a stamp, since for Malians no paper is a valid paper if it doesn’t have at least one stamp and a signature on it. But preferably it will be decorated with several stamps and signatures.
‘But what to do with a stamp when you don’t have an invoice booklet?’, the guys had been asking me. Amadou was looking a bit worried, because how on earth was he going to make an invoice for a client and hand me a copy for the administration also? It was obviously clear: we were in need of invoice booklets! Fearing the Malian quality standards I had my doubts, so we talked it over and I decided it could wait a bit longer. Amadou had decided otherwise, as I found out that evening when he entered my office with a sweet smiling man asking me how many booklets I needed.
The examples he showed me were of course way below European minimum standard, but not too bad in terms of Malian standards. And of course it was possible to make it in the way that it would come with a copy. It not being too expensive I surrendered.
Having seen the Malian designs I made a nice design myself, handed it in print as well as in Word- and PDF-files to the man and was hopeful it would work out ok. Not even an hour later he came up with a printing proof that somewhat looked like my design. I pointed out all the differences with the original design and was assured it would all work out very well.
After three printing proofs it was still kind of a disaster and not having had an answer the previous times, I again asked for the reason of not using my file. Well that contained only one A5 and they were in need of two A5’s placed on one A4. ‘Oh, why didn’t you tell me?’, I asked him ‘I can easily make that!’ By the time he returned with his memory stick the file had been updated and he left my office with a broad smile, assuring me it would all work out fine.
What remained of the evening was used to clean up my computer. Sure enough the memory stick contained a virus…
Next day the man arrived with my invoice booklets… Having worked with several printing companies and being used to our high quality standards, I can only say that I’m overly happy that I ordered all other printed matters in The Netherlands!
I’m back to the Middle Ages in terms of the quality of the print job and sure enough back to carbon paper. The last didn’t come with the booklets though, we had to buy it separately. So I’ve plenty of carbon paper for the next few decades and luckily I ordered only the minimum amount of 10 booklets.
Only 500 customers to go…
I’m sure by then Amadou’s computer skills will be up to a 21st century solution 🙂