- Category: Entrepreneurship
- Written by Deogratias Mmana
A man who worked in tea estates before he started producing stoves has found himself in the hospitality industry and currently employs at least 20 people.
This is the story of a 45-year-old Ken Chilewe, who after producing rocket stoves for some years, has built a magnificent Hapuwani Village Lodge on the slopes of Mulanje Mountain along the Limbe-Muloza Road in Mulanje.
The lodge has 40 deluxe rooms and offers premier accommodation and conference facilities in the district.
Chilewe, who graduated from the Polytechnic with a diploma in mechanical engineering, says money for building the lodge came from his rocket stove business.
“I have spent over K300 million [about $857 142] on the lodge. All the money came from rocket stoves which I have been producing after leaving Chitakale Tea Estate. As an engineer, I started doing fabrication and welding and producing rocket stoves which I sell to markets in Burundi, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi where primary schools use for the School Feeding Programme,” says Chilewe.
Construction of the lodge, says Chilewe, started in 2008.
“The lodge has a conference centre for 200 people, boardroom for 30 people and restaurant that can take 200 people. There is a swimming pool measuring 22 metres by 12 metres and is enclosed by a bar and lounge. As people enjoy their drinks and chat, they get a cool breeze from the pool and the mountain,” he says.
According to Chilewe the lodge targets both Malawians and international tourists.
Chilewe, a father of four, was expelled from Blantyre Secondary School, after impregnating fellow student when he was in form two. He completed his secondary education in Chikhwawa.
The lodge’s manager Christina Chirwa who has been in the hospitality industry for over 10 years says Hapuwani in Lhomwe means come, eat, rest and enjoy.
Chilewe comes from Kang’oma Village in Traditional Authority Mabuka in the district.