It is 3 pm at Champhoyo Trading Centre in Traditional Authority Nthondo in Ntchisi North East.
The marketplace has been deserted due to the afternoon heat. Other traders have temporarily abandoned their merchandise for lunch. Buyers and wannabes have also relocated to their homes, ready to come again at the fall of the sun.
While the hustle-bustle of the market has relented, a young woman stands resiliently besides her merchandise—second-hand clothes. She has endured the sweltering heat for hours now. Tiyamike Boniface is her name.
Every time and again she steals a glance at the small heap of kaunjika clothes on the ground.
“For the past few days, the heap of clothes was so huge. I have sold many clothes and I will order a new bale tomorrow,” she says.
The 20-year-old from Bzyobvyo village in the area learned business management with Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM). The organization was implementing a Youth In Action (YIA) project in the district. Boniface joined the programme in in 2015.
At the end of the project, she received K50 000. She bought three goats. She sold them. For close to five months, she was into goat selling.
Later the mother of two changed business—she started selling tomatoes and other vegetables.
Through the course of her business adventures, Boniface, who is not married, has been able to support her two children. “I also built a house using money from the business.”
About the lessons from CRECCOM, the young woman says she learned to persevere life adversities to prosper. “That is why I endure the heat to sell my merchandise because if I leave, I can miss that one customer,” she says.
CRECCOM implemented the project with support from MasterCard Foundation (Canada) through Save the Children between 2012 and 2017 in T/As Chilooko,
Malenga, Chikho, Nthondo and Kasakura in the district.
The programme was expected to reach 39 850 direct beneficiaries over six years. By March 2018 the programme had reached 43 792 youths in 5 countries namely Malawi, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda . From this figure, 40 593 youths completed the learning phase and 36 314 youths graduated from the full programme .In Malawi the project targeted four districts including Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi and Rumphi.
As Boniface is waiting for customers, Sarah Chiphambo at Nthondo Trading Centre is plaiting hair of a customer in her salon.
The 24-year-old young woman from Makhetchemu Village in the area dropped out in Standard Four but YIA taught her business management. Like Boniface, she joined the programme in 2015.
At the end, she received K50 000. She too, was into goat selling until she decided to change careers. With the money she earned from goat sales, she learned hairdressing.
She is now running a salon. The business supports her. In 2016 she married, but she later walked away from the marriage due to gender-based violence.
“That is why I thank YIA because if I was not empowered, I would still be in marriage. But I am economically independent and do not need an abusive husband,” she says.
While Chiphambo has found a career in hairdressing, another YIA trained young woman is Flora Nduwa, 25, from Nthondo Village. She also joined YIA programme in 2015.
Nduwa went to Mikolongwe Dapp Training College in Chiradzulu where she graduated in agribusiness in 2016.
“I received a sprayer and fertilisers as starter-pack tools. So, I grew vegetables. After the sales, I invested again in farming. Up to now, farming is my career,” she says.
Like her two colleagues, Nduwa is supporting herself from farming.