18 Jul
  • By Isaac Msiska
  • Cause in

Serving our graduates by providing jobs

Chikuni is a small-scale farmer living in one of the remotest villages in Dowa District, about 50 kilometres from Malawi’s Capital, Lilongwe. In fact, farming has been a tradition in his family because his parents are small-scale farmers too and actually that is where Chikuni took after. The family grows tobacco, tomato, maize and different other varieties of crops.

However, farming is unpredictable. Price fluctuations, erratic rainfalls and costly farm inputs all make the field of agriculture a risky business. And to small-scale farmers who mostly depend on the business for survival, sustaining farms at times becomes a bumpy ride.

Chikuni knew this. He realized that relying on farming alone would not be a wise choice. Chikuni understood that he needed a ‘backup plan’ that would complement his farming venture in times of unforeseen circumstances. What mostly prompted him to start seeking alternative ways of marking money was the fact that most often when he sold his harvests, he did not yield the profits he wanted. The money he made was not enough to keep him going for long.

That is not all, there was a very long wait between planting season and harvesting season which meant that during that waiting period, he literary had no other means of earning money.

“I wanted to have something that could help me to become fully economically stable.” He explained. Besides that, he had just completed his secondary school and he was in pursuit of post-secondary education. Although farming provided his family with a basic way of putting food on their table, farming would not exactly help Chikuni progress further in life.

“We are not large commercial farmers. What we grow as crops is there simply to keep us going but we do not earn big profits from the trade.” He explained. Learning a skill in tailoring seemed to be the solution to Chikuni. Besides helping him obtain a side income apart from his family’s small farming trade, obtaining training in that skill would also provide the young man with a form of post-secondary qualification – a qualification he would most likely use to launch a much stable business. As a matter of fact, that was Chikuni’s plan, to start a business that would supply fabrics and make clothes on a large scale.

With that goal in mind, the young man enrolled for tailoring in our vocational training programme. Earlier this year Chikuni successfully completed his dream course and graduated with a recognized certificate in Tailoring. He set up a small shop in partnership with one of his friends and started a tailoring business. Little did he know that a pleasant surprise awaited him.

Two months ago, our social business entity, Kibebe Limited was looking for artisan tailors to work in the company. When Chikuni heard the news, he seized the chance and applied for the opportunity. Some weeks later he was among the list of tailors that Kibebe employed. Chikuni does not treat that lightly. He considers it something of value to his tailoring skills.

“I am gaining rare experience here and improving my skills. It is different from the experience I would have gained if I was working in my own shop.” He said. Chikuni is indeed attaining ‘rare experience’ because Kibebe makes a wide range of products targeted at the local and international markets. Working with the company implies that Chikuni is getting exposed to an ‘international standard of tailoring’. This is a big deal to him and he admitted that his experience in Kibebe has also exposed him to a new set of skills. Best of all, he is employed – something which is very difficult to obtain in the villages. He is gaining even more from the employment.

“Kibebe is helping me to boost the financial capital I need to run my small farm garden. Farming requires lots of inputs like fertilizer, herbicides and hiring labour. All this cost a lot of money and it is not easy for a village farmer to purchase these items but because of Kibebe, I can.” Now that he has notable qualifications and skills and, most importantly employed, Chikuni can note a difference in his welfare. He explained that he does not lack money and he is on his way to financial independence.

He also has the best of both worlds because he is using the money he obtains from his job with Kibebe to run his farm garden which is just he was looking for.