14 Feb
  • By Isaac Msiska
  • Cause in

A Nail in the Box of Cash

Evance was once a taxi driver. Although he worked on that job for a decade, he did not enjoy it. For one, the car he was driving was not his, meaning that he was simply making money for someone else while his life remained stagnant.

“I wanted to be my own boss, answering to myself and making my own money. I could not achieve this if I continued working as a driver.” Evance stated.

Evance is married with two kids. As the head of his family, he knew he had to find a stable cash flow if he was to properly sustain the family. Of course, Evance made some earnings from the job as a driver but it was not enough. Besides, working for someone had its downside because the pressure of work was too much.

And his job was dangerous.

In 2011, Evance was involved in a fatal car accident which nearly cost his life. He quit the job after a decade of working as a driver, and started focusing on another means of earning income. Carpentry seemed like the best option. What mostly convinced Evance to eye carpentry was the shortage of carpenters in the village he is from. The lack of carpenters forced people to travel long distances, usually to a township 30 kilometres away, in search of such services. Evance wished to fill that gap and provide carpentry services within reach.

There was another reason.

Evance had once hired a carpenter to make a dining table but the carpenter did a poor job. The table he produced was terrible and rocked sideways each time they put something on it. That encounter increased Evance’s determination to train in carpentry. His journey to seek a school offering carpentry found him knocking on the door of our vocational training programme in 2017. Like a vision materializing quicker than he could have imagined, couple of weeks later Evance found himself in our Carpentry course. He joined the course with no prior experience in carpentry but gradually his skills rapidly developed.

“I suddenly realized that I was wasting money paying for carpentry services.” Evance commented. “I could not wait to complete the course and start my own carpentry trade.” The carpentry training opened a new path to self-employment. When Evance graduated from the course six months later, he found a convenient place along the main road, about 5 kilometres from where he stays and set up a carpentry bench. Using the tools he received at school, he started producing carpentry products. Evance wished he were his own boss and sure enough that aspiration has come to pass.The uniqueness of the wooden products he made began generating a buzz around his community. It did not take long for Evance to draw the attention of people within and outside his area. He explained that at times, some individuals passing by his carpentry bench stop to admire his wooden works of art.

Most of them often end up placing big orders. How much does he make?

“50 thousand Kwacha when business is good.” He disclosed. “That is for just one product. When I make more than one products, say two beds, I go home with close to 90 thousand Kwacha a day.” This cannot be compared with the amount he made when he worked as a driver. Local taxi drivers receive a monthly salary of lower than MK50, 000. Even if he owned a taxi, Evance would have been earning less than MK15, 000 per day. Making 50 grand in a day is a big boost for Evance. The benefits he is reaping from the carpentry bench has trickled down to his farming business.

Evance owns a 2 acre farm where he cultivates maize, peas, cabbage and tomatoes. Long ago, he would not dare engage in full scale farming because he lacked the financial muscle to sustain his farm. In Malawian villages, managing even the smallest farm is far too costly since it demands farm inputs like fertilizer, herbicides and labour, which is very expensive to maintain.

However, Evance can now afford all that.

The revenue from the carpentry trade has enabled him to improve the farm by hiring labourers and buying expensive pesticides – at first this was impossible. The small farm is supplementing food for his household.

The best part is that he no longer needs to hire a carpenter to produce furniture for his household. Actually, Evance is renovating some of his furniture and he is making a new dining set and beds. He is one satisfied carpenter, and so is his family.

It is one of the several stories about how our vocational training programme is lifting lives and serving communities.