CLIVE SIACHIYAKO, Lusaka
TODAY, everybody wants to acquire education because the labour market demands certain proven or certified competences and skills. Most people thus acquire education and skills to find employment while others do it to get practical skills and know-how to start their businesses. Mercy Sakala, she got into a technical education, vocational and entrepreneurship training (TEVET) programme to acquire hands-on skills, attributes and knowledge related to poultry management to start her own poultry business: She ventured into rearing chickens immediately after the training. Mrs Sakala stepped out and applied herself the moment she finished her TEVET-funded training in poultry management at Ukwimi Training Institute. She argues that the training provided her leverage to face the business world with a basket of apt abilities, attributes and attitudes.
Where did things start with Mrs Sakala?
Having a skill was the starting point for her. She had the desire for poultry management but had little knowledge and skills on how to go about it. When a training opportunity emerged under TEVET Fund at Ukwimi Trades Training Institute, Mrs Sakala was sure it was the beginning of actualising her dream. She took the opportunity with determination to start the poultry business from the skilful and knowledgeable vantage point to enable her to sustain it.
According to the Institute, Mrs Sakala did not only learn, but got involved during training to know practicalities of handling chickens, feed apportioning in relation to number of kitchens, costing and other requisites in managing chicken business. She could jump into the chicken run and mix feed, change water and feed as other learners who were reluctant to do so watched. “While other students did not want to touch ‘dirt’, Mrs Sakala cared less. She surprised us. Very few women have an attitude like hers,” one of the lecturers said.
TEVETA seeks to impart entrepreneurial, technical and vocational skills to learners to drive individual and national development. To Mrs Sakala, this seems to have fitted well in her self-employment dream. “I dreamed of working for myself because working for someone limited me financially and in achieving my business goals. When the training in poultry management under the TEVET Fund came my way, I was confident it would make me realise my dream of venturing into poultry business.”
Identifying business opportunities
“I identified a business opportunity in poultry as eggs in Petauke came from Lusaka. I knew that was my entry point into business. Coincidentally, the TEVET funding came at the same time. I grabbed the training opportunity and did my best to utilise it.” Whereas others took the training as one thing one thing they do before finding something better to do. Mrs Sakala did it with a clear mission. “Today some of those I did the programme with get surprised that I took the programme ‘serious’, What I observed from those I did the programme with was that most of them do not want to get dirt in preference to white-collar work,” said Mrs Sakala.
“TEVET should not be a by-the-way but a driver of economic growth,” said Mrs Sakala. “That is why I took the training seriously. I utilised every lesson for my good. I knew what exactly I wanted to use the training for. I did not just go to Ukwimi Trades to pass time.It was the beginning of my business dream. It was a life-changing opportunity. I was working for someone as a sales agent. But once I finished the training, I ventured into a poultry business as I felt I had acquired valuable knowledge in it. Today I am an agent for Starke Ayres, Hybrid, Stock Feeds, Seedco, e-voucher [under government] and other veterinary products.”
Starke Ayres, described her as “stable and manages profits well’’, Company representative, Shadreck Sakala added that Mrs Sakala was creditworthy and steady in her bank account’s financial position, which made her suitable for credit facilities from different companies. He, however, said she needed guidance on business diversification plans to avoid overtrading and risking her businesses. “As our client, we create time to talk to her to watch over some risks as she expands.”
As an agent for agro-companies, Mrs Sakala does extension services to educate farmers and secure orders for agro-products. “It’s a marketing strategy. I share with them information on crop production, poultry and agriculture in general. I then secure orders for agro-products at my shops in Petauke and Katete.” Mrs Sakala believes that starting big does not always result into a successful business. It does not grant business sustainability. “If you are committed, visionary and disciplined, capital size or size of business matters less to business growth and lifespan. Your drive, combined with financial discipline, will get you going.”
TEVETA administers the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) Fund to assist in developing a high quality, sustainable, demand-driven, and equitable TEVET system. The Fund establishes a financing platform that purchases training services from public providers on a competitive basis.
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