For 11 years, Donnex Zimbulani has failed to make a mark in the welding and fabrication world. His company, Donz Engineering, has not progressed as he had hoped.
Zimbulani had hoped that by now, his company would be able to produce for the export market.
â€œThroughout the time we have been in business, our company has done a lot of work for both individuals and companies. But this has failed to satisfy our aim which is to break through the international market.
â€œWe feel that the only way we can grow is through exportation of our products to the outside world which would enable us to fetch good money,â€ said the proprietor.
However, that dream is about to realised, thanks to the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (Teveta).
Zimbulani says his company, located at Kamba Market in Blantyre, would now access expertise from Teveta on value adding and the best approach to welding and fabrication as a business.
An assessment by Teveta and the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, on the performance of welding and fabrication companies in Blantyre revealed that most of them are not faring well as employees lacked special skills in polishing and finishing products, a factor which is critical to making products competitive on the market.
The two institutions organised a month-long welding and fabrication training for 20 artisans from various locations in Blantyre to sharpen their skills in this regard.
The players are now optimistic that after acquiring the skills, they will be able to produce quality products that can compete favourably on the international market.
â€œThe training has helped me, particularly on how we can produce quality products that are eye catching,â€ said Zimbulani.
But Zimbulani relishes periodic trainings of this nature to upgrade his skills and those of his eight employees at Donz Engineering.
â€œIt has always been my wish that we should be producing products for export. We want to be exporting door and window frames. And with these kind of training, I see us at Donz Engineering achieving our goal,â€ he said.
Robson Mgawi, a lecturer in technical education at the Polytechnic who was lead trainer for the 20 artisans, observed that poor workmanship that come as a result of lack of proper skills prompted Teveta and his institution to conduct the skills upgrading exercise.
He observed that the problem of producing substandard work by the welders arise because most of them have not attained informal training in the trade.
â€œWe want to see these people produce quality products. We have observed that the quality of products they are producing leaves a lot to be desired. But from now on, we are hopeful they will no longer be producing substandard products,â€ said Mgawi.
The welders were drawn from Chemusa, Ndirande, Bangwe, and Kamba, among other townships in Blantyre.
Mgawi said their plan is to reach out to as many as 60 welders within Blantyre.
Teveta executive director Yusuf Alide assured the 20 welders that have been trained that his organisation would act as a link with Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) if they want to access loans to boost their businesses.