When standard seven drop-out Mac Mwandeya ventured into a carpentry business, little did he know that it would bring him success.
Mwandeya, born in 1977 at Thekerani in Thyolo, says he was forced to drop out of school due to poverty, although, he claims, he was one of the most intelligent students in his class.
His journey into carpentry started when his uncle who was staying in Blantyre invited him to train him in carpentry.
“Dropping out of school was a terrible experience for me, but when I acquired the carpentry skills, I knew that one day I could stand on my own financially.
“I had noted that my uncle was a successful businessman and he inspired me to follow his footsteps,” he said.
Mwandeya moved to Lilongwe in 2002 where he joined one of his friends who had a carpentry shop at Biwi.
“I started selling sofa springs as I continued sharpening my skills at the friend’s shop. We had a very cordial relationship that two years later he gave me K5 000 to start my own business. I topped up the money and set up Mwandeya Furniture and Joinery,” he recalls.
According to Mwandeya, business was very good when he started because there were a few carpenters, such that he built a house and purchased a three-tonne-lorry and a Toyota Corolla.
“I emphasized on quality. This attracted a lot of customers, including Asian businessmen who were buying chairs from me to resell in their shops. You could find that a sofa set which cost K250 000 at my shop, was being sold at K700 000 (US$1 675) in the Asian shops, but people didn’t realise that the chairs were being made at Nchesi.
“This is why I am challenging top government officials, heads of civil society organisations, middle managers and all Malawians who want top class furniture to try us. We will never disappoint them,” says Mwandeya.