In Mashati Village, Traditional Authority Zulu in Mchinji, Shaibu Nicholas Phiri is a household name.
The 28-year-old has earned his place in the village’s history for his meteoric rise from the dungeon of poverty to prosperity.
Yet, in 2016 Phiri had no means of earning a living. He just lived a hand-to-mouth life, hoping against hope for manna to fall from heaven.
But one day, light shone in the night of his despair when Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) offered him an opportunity to join other youths under a Youth In Action (YIA) Project in the district. Under the project, young people who dropped out of school like Shaibu underwent training either in business and technical education.
CRECCOM implemented the project with support from MasterCard Foundation (Canada) through Save the Children between 2012 and 2017 in T/As M’duwa, Zulu, Mkanda and Mavwere 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.
The father of two, who dropped in Standard Three at Zulu Primary School in the district, did not hesitate to take up the chance.
After the training, Phiri chose to venture into business. He went for agribusiness.
Phiri explains: “So, after receiving K70 000 as starter-up capital from CRECCOM, I bought chicks to raise for eggs.
“I constructed a chicken kraal under the supervision of Mchinji District Agricultural Development
With the skills he acquired from the training, Phiri raised up to 300 layers.
“I sold the eggs at Kamwendo Trading Centre and used the manure in my farm,” he explains.
After two years of saving the earnings, Phiri constructed a decent house roofed with corrugated iron-sheets. He abandoned his grass-thatched house.
His wife, Melifa, is all smiles that their two children are now learning at Queenswood Private Primary School based at Mchinji Boma where children from middle-class families also learn.
But that is not all as Phiri also bought a plot at the boma which he wants to develop. Last year, he bought a house for his mother.
“When we look back, we see that we have come a long way; my father died before I was born. His
death resulted in my failure to continue with school. But, thanks to CRECCOM, their training and starter- up capital lay a solid foundation for my life,” he says, smiling from cheek to cheek.
In 2017, Phiri’s success story inspired his uncle, Enock Kaponda. He learned from him how to raise layers and built a kraal to give it a try.
Today, Kaponda has 300 layers and is cashing in on eggs.
His wife, Angella Banda, says poultry farming has transformed their lives.
“We expect to harvest 40 bags of maize because we used the proceedings from selling eggs to buy
fertiliser for our farm,” she explains.
To people in the village, Phiri is a good example of how hard work pays off.