Unlike most females who choose to sell clothes, shoes, handbags and beauty accessories, 23-year-old Mary Gondwe decided to make her case exceptional.
The Lilongwe-based entrepreneur travels to South Africa at least twice a month and buys fabric and other raw materials for making various household furniture which she sells to local companies in the furniture business.
“I always wanted to do something different. Most people go for the obvious choices but I wanted to try something that is not given much attention. Running such a business has been challenging but more rewarding,” she narrates.
Gondwe, who has been in the business for four years, boasts that she has gained expertise and experience and can take on new challenges.
“I am now knowledgeable in this business. I have even established a good customer base such that most of my customers now trust my choice of fabric and other raw materials.
“People have accepted me over the years and I have built trust in my customers too. I even have a Chinese customer as one of my biggest clients,” she says.
According to Gondwe, the business has given her a deep sense of satisfaction and further provides her with the necessary income to meet her day-to-day expenses.
“In a month, I make not less than K500 000 and I supply my products to at least four companies. I have managed to keep some money which I have used to build a house and I am able to support my siblings through the same source,” Gondwe says.
She, however, decries the instability of the kwacha and the availability of foreign currency, which she says severely affect her business.
“Mostly, when I go to the bank for foreign currency, it’s either unavailable or the rates would have risen drastically. This is a blow to my business as it hinders growth,” said Gondwe.
On her future outlook, Gondwe dreams of opening a shop in the town and exploring the Chinese market.
She encourages people to make use of their skills for their benefits and understand that it is not only white collar jobs or other forms of employment that can earn one a living.
“There is a high level of unemployment in the country, largely because people have not opened up to change and look at other things besides white collar jobs. I believe in sharing knowledge and skills. It is for this that I find pride in teaching others my experience and what I have acquired to people who are willing to learn and stand on their own,” she says.