Since 2006, 29- year- old James Njoka has made a living from his charcoal selling business, and thus far, he has built a house and bought livestock.
He says since he did not go far with education, he thought he would not do so well to get employment, so when he got a starter pack in form of a loan from his friends, he ventured into the business.
Njoka ,who comes from Mdeka in Blantyre, says three times every week he either goes to Mwanza, Lirangwe or Mdeka to buy bags of charcoal, which he sells in smaller packs in Chirimba Township
“We buy five or six bags from there, and after two days, we would have sold all of them. It is a very good business, and I have benefited from it. From this very business I managed to build my own house, and I have goats, chickens and pigs which I bought from the very same proceeds for household consumption,” Njoka says.
He says he was ready to take a risk and start a business against all odds.
“I had a friend who was selling charcoal, and I thought if I followed his lead, I would do as fine as he did. I knew that there were chances of failure but I was willing to take the risk. Here I am now, six years later and I am still fine,” he says.
The business is not without challenges, he says.
“It is hard to find the goods these days. Sometimes we go to our sources and find that the commodities are scarce. Apart from that, we may find the charcoal burners but then transportation is sometimes the hassle.
“And these days, transport costs are very high, that we too have to pass on that cost to our customers. The good thing is that the charcoal is important to every household and people somehow just can’t do without it, so we still sell,” he says.
He plans to grow his business and diversify into something else.
He advises would -be entrepreneurs not to be sceptical about starting a business. He observes that what is more important is to be confident in the business that one wants to venture into; and they will find that things are going well.