Cane furniture is broadly used in homes, offices and hotels, among other places, in Malawi.
Clyton Alafuledi from Chigumula has, since 2001, been making cane accessories from chairs to curtain boxes and television units and everything that one can think of. The 33-year-old is making a fortune out of the trade and has penetrated the export market.
“We can do almost anything. We have made a lot of items before; trays, chandeliers, dressing tables, beds, headboards, baskets, flower stands and mirrors, among other things. One can simply bring us a picture of what they would like us to make and we will make it for them,” he says.
Alafuledi claims that for him and the four people that he works with, every day is a busy day as they have to make something for someone because they get a lot of orders from people.
In a month, they can make between four and five sets of chairs because they are the most common thing that people want in the country.
He notes that from the time they started making the items and displaying them by the roadside in Chigumula, a lot of people have been flocking to them.
“The good thing with our products is that they are durable and of good quality. The kind of weaving that we do is very strong, and the weaving itself is very neat.
“What mostly happens is that when people buy our items, it does not take long before they bring their friends to buy some too,” boasts Alafuledi.
He has now started exporting some of the chairs to South Africa. Locally, they are delivered to other corners of the country, especially Lilongwe.
One would wonder how he started with the cane furniture business.
Alafuledi claims that he only saw a chair that his friend bought from Magomero in Chiradzulu and challenged himself to make one just like it, and he did. That is how he started.
He recalls making assorted cane items for a certain family in Chigumula that approached him to make everything cane from the kitchen all the way to the living room and bedrooms.
Alafuledi says he can do the same for others who like.