What started as a small business that specialised in hiring play items some five years ago has now turned out to be one of the most famous play centres in Lilongwe.
Situated in Area 6, the Lilongwe Play Centre caters for children’s needs and has so far hosted over 100 children’s parties.
Co-founder of the centre, Esther Kawale said they opened the place after noting that most children in the city were becoming less and less active as they grow due to the absence of play centres.
“Children these days are less active and less fit than 15 years ago, probably due increasing time they spend in front of television. To fill the void in the market, we had to create a play centre with facilities such as soft toys, play structures, rides, for children to play in, learn, stimulate their brains and explore.
“We were also taking away the stress of hosting kids’ parties from parents and guardians who require a one-stop party service. People are not just interested in buying things; they want an experience that is fun, exciting and enjoyable. Our experience allows us to make birthday parties hassle-free for parents. We provide all the planning, set up, decorating, supervising and cleaning. Our parties run all year long. We aim at creating memorable children’s party experience,” she said.
According to Kawale, who co-founded the centre with Mercy Kubwalo, the beginning of the business had its challenges.
She said parents at first could not trust them with their children; hence, they could only host five children per week. She also said some parents failed to understand the whole idea about the play centre.
“Parents are basically entrusting us with the children and it is not something to take lightly. These are their precious angels and we had to make sure we have the right equipment, safe equipment as you know basic things such as paint and plastics can be dangerous to children; we also had the right people employed. One can never be too cautious when it comes to children’s wellbeing. As days passed by, with more awareness, we saw the numbers picking up and later we started hosting parties,” she said.
Kawale, who holds an honours degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom, says they centre can hold a maximum of 70 children at one go.
“My co partner, Mercy Kubwalo who is more in the hospitality and events industry, has been of great help as well. With her expertise, we have lured in more kids that we can ever imagine. We have hosted over 500 parties and functions for most reputable organisations such as Airtel Malawi, Telekom Networks Malawi, Carlsberg Malawi, Multichoice Malawi and so many schools and churches within Lilongwe.
“I would want Malawians to take a leap of faith and jump into the ocean. Things happen when people have faith and I think that is what we all need to succeed. Our success is also based on our ability to become known within the city, being the trend setters and building long term lasting relationship with customers,” she said. n