If you were given K40 000, how would you spend it? On groceries, clothes, or beer?
But, that is not how Happy Sakaike Banda of Mdzomba Village, Traditional Authority Zulu in Mchinji spent his K40 000 he received from Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) in 2014.
At that time, the father of two had no income-generating activity. Being a primary school dropout, he could not dream of getting employment. Not even when youths who have qualifications are struggling to secure jobs.
So, the young man just left everything to chance. “There was nothing I could do. I just accepted my lot and resigned to fate.”
Yet when he was about to give up, Youth in Action (YIA) Project implemented by CRECCOM earmarked him to undergo business management training. Despite the ridicule from other youths, Banda attended the lessons.
CRECCOM implemented the project with funding 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 program. In Malawi the project targeted four districts including Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi, and Rumphi.
The three-week training opened his eyes to the realities of life.
“I learned great lessons about discovering oneself; I came to appreciate that working hard was the only way to succeed in life,” he recalls.
While during the training, Banda vowed to use the business and life skills as a ladder to success. Thus when he received K40 000, he did not belittle it. He knew with proper investment, he would achieve his goals.
He recalls: “So, I opened a shop in 2014 and spent the money on items. After some sales, I used some money to buy farm inputs.
“I knew that if I wanted success, my family had to be food-secure.”
Without forgetting the lessons at YIA, he grew the shop business. However, the young man decided to diversify the business. He started buying some farm produce during the time of plenty.
“I also invested the money in soya farming. So, I made a lot of money after the sales,” says Banda.
In 2016, he bought pigs so he could maximize his profits. He knew he needed more money to expand his investments. Then, he felt that he needed a motorbike to help him transport shop items from Mchinji Boma, 10 kilometers away from his village.
Without relaxing in his toil, Banda continued to invest in farming and his shop.
When we met him on June 5, 2021, he was in his new car. “I bought it last month. I want to use it for public transport,” he said.
On this particular day, Banda was with two friends in the car, who looked proud of their friend.
But, they had forgotten that it took K40 000 only for their friend to build his fortune.