Dry taps are a challenge in most parts of the country. Indeed, when water supply is not interrupted for a whole month, people jokingly say this is ‘abnormal’ because they are used to dry taps.
But this problem is what sparked the creative thinking in 30-year-old Felix Tabu of Thondwe in Zomba, who drills boreholes in Blantyre and surrounding areas.
It’s a business whose idea was hatched in 2003 after noticing that many households in the city were facing water shortage problems.
“I used to visit friends and relatives in Blantyre. This is when I realised that many residents in the city have interrupted water supply. Meanwhile, in my home village in Thondwe, we had no water problems because we had wells and boreholes. I, therefore, thought of generating income through drilling boreholes and connecting pipes from the borehole to taps,” says Tabu who holds a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE).
But it was in 2005 that Tabu gathered courage to travel to Blantyre to start the business after learning a few skills from a man who was operating a similar business in Zomba.
It was not an easy start as he had to knock on people’s doors and try to convince owners to embrace boreholes.
His first borehole was drilled at Kachere Township in Blantyre.
“After my first assignment, I was so motivated that I approached other residents and the number of my customers increased. Now, I have gone as far as Balaka and Ntcheu,” says Tabu, a married man and father of one.
He says using water from the borehole helps his customers to save on water bills.
“Some domestic activities do not require services from water boards. For instance, people can wash care and water their garden using water from boreholes,” explains Tabu.
He is yet to name the business and he relies on temporary employees for labour.
“I don’t have permanent employees for this business, but in few years to come I will employ permanent workers,” he says.
The young entrepreneur points at high cost of materials as one of the challenges he faces.
“I charge K60 000 (US$143) per borehole and K100 000 (US$239) for the connection of pipes from the borehole to different areas within a compound. However, many people think the charges are expensive when it’s the materials that are expensive,” says Tabu.
Tabu believes that millionaires are not born, but made; hence, he believes he is on the road to becoming a millionaire and he envisions his business growing into an empire that will end unemployment levels among young people in the country.