CHRISTINE CHISHA, Petauke
AT THE age of 29, Rabina Njobvu was widowed and left with four children without any means to look after them.
Her life became miserable because all the years she was married, she had it all, a hardworking man and a beautiful home.
She was an envy of her friends and relatives.
After the burial of her husband, she faced a lot of temptations, even of being hooked into prostitution.
â€œSome people wanted me to start selling my body because I only reached grade nine and they told me it will be difficult for me to find a job.
â€œI refused and told myself never to go against the will of God to sell my body for money. I thought quickly and went in the closet of my children, got their clothes especially the clothes for my first born daughter who was two years old that time because she had very nice clothes and started selling them,â€ she said.
She raised money from the clothes and started selling fritters at a market.
She also moved out of the house the husband built, put it on rent and moved with the children from Chipata to Katete.
From the fritters, she sold at Katete market, she raised K300 and paid for a small shop and started a restaurant.
She used part of the profits to take her children to school and bought shirts and pants worth K250 from Lusaka to sell in offices.
â€œMy business grew. I managed to buy a three-room housed in Katete. I decided to move here in Petauke in 2007. When I was coming here, I had K7,000 and the first thing I did was to look for a shop and luckily, I found one on sale,â€ she said.
Rabina today owns two big shops at Petauke new market called Elvis Step one and Step two.
In one shop, she sells clothes, shoes, blankets and baby clothes while the other stocks kitchenware, mats and rice from Nakonde.
The determined woman who has become a cross border trader travelling to Tanzania to buy goods for sale in her two shops has also registered a company with Pacra.
â€œWhen my children started going to colleges I thought of expanding my business, I registered a company called Rabinanjo Dealers and Supply through which I supply goods to schools here in Petauke, â€œ she said.
She supplies beans to Nyamphande boarding school, Songa Girls Boarding school and to Petauke General Hospital.
Rabina said the money she raises from her supply business pays college fees for her children.
Her first born is a third-year student at Lusaka Nursing Institute, the second one is studying Mechanics at Ukwimi Trades in Petauke and the third child is a third- year student at Mulungushi University studying Education and the other two are in secondary school.
She is also supporting her nieces in school.
Apart from her two businesses of supplying and trading shops, Rabina rears chickens, which she sells in offices and her fellow business people in Petauke.
â€œBeing widowed at a young age made me grow into who I am today. I never thought I would run a business when I was comfortably married. I thank God that he gave me wisdom even if I had less education to start up a business and fend for my children,â€ she said.
Rabina believes with hard work, focus on accomplishing set goals and total dependency on God is key to a successful life, work or business.
She said, â€œ hard work is not an enemy and has never killed anyone, I am a single parent who runs two shops, I order things in Tanzania. If am not away, I sell at the shops and only my elder sister helps me run the two shops. I strategise on my supply business and I wake up very early to check on the chickens ,â€.
She is assisted by one worker in raising the chickens and from the money from her business, Rabina has built a four bedroom house where she is living.
Her future plan is to grow her supply business once her chicken complete their education.
Rabina is inspired by a Mrs Nkuwa, who has managed to grow her business.
She described Mrs Nkuwa as a hard working woman, who supports other women to grow their businesses.
â€œWhen I lost my mother who was living in Lusaka, I used a lot of money for orders during the funeral and I could not travel to Tanzania , when Mrs Nkuwa heard, she encouraged me and gave me money for orders and we travelled together, thatâ€™s how kind my mentor is,â€ Rabina said.
In order to acquire funds for small loans, Rabina is part of Silk women, a village banking group. The women serve money and once their servings reach K500 they are allowed to borrow K1,500.
â€œWhen I heard about it I decided to join the group. Though the money looks small it can go a long way to boost a business if it starts going down. In business every ngwee counts,â€ she said.
Rabina urged women to work hard and learn to fend for themselves instead of depending on men.
She said she is an example of how small beginnings with focus and determination can grow and she has taken it upon herself to encourage her fellow women to start businesses.
Rabina said if she had not started with by selling fritters, she would have ended up being a prostitute but her endurance has now paid off.
â€œI walk with my heard high, knowing my children are in school, I am paying for their schools with money I raise through hard work ,â€ she said.
Rabina is a member of the Reformed Church in Zambia in Petauke and she believes the sky is not the limit for her. She aims to be a household name as a woman who has risen from selling fritters to owning businesses and property.
CHRISTINE CHISHA, Petauke