From rags to riches through hard work

GROWING up in Chongwe’s Kapete village and later Lusaka’s Mtendere township seemed hard for Chrispin Chiinda.
Little did he know that the hard work was laying a foundation for the successful business he would run later in life. He is now a household name in some of Lusaka’s up-market areas.
Mr Chiinda recalls a childhood filled with hardships, with his keepers in Chongwe and Mtendere seemingly ensuring that he got a larger share of the household chores than other children.
‘‘My background was rough and I remember most times surviving on one meal a day. The hard work I was subjected to by my aunties and grandmother prepared me for who I am today.’’
Mr Chiinda is the proprietor of Lusaka’s famous Chelston Chris Mall and Chris Mall Lodges in Chamba Valley.
Chris, as he is popularly known by peers and business associates, recently shared his story of graduating from rags to riches.
Born on June 20, 1977 in Chongwe district, Chris was raised by a single mother and constantly found himself moving between his aunties and his grandmother’s home. It seemed to him that his early life had poverty written all over him.
However, he did not despair.
At some point he became what one could call a vagabond because he moved from one place to another in search of basic life necessities.
This saw him move from Chongwe to Magoye in Southern Province and Mtendere before he established himself as a businessman worth his salt.
Chris did his primary school at Kapete Primary School in Chongwe before moving to Magoye Basic for his grades eight and nine and finally his grades 10 to 12 at Libala Secondary School in Lusaka.
Back to his early days, Chris remembers being chased several times at secondary school because his guardians could not afford school fees.
‘‘When I was in grade 11, there was no one to pay for me and I was chased out of school. I started doing piecework in Mtendere and surrounding areas which enabled me to pay for myself. I was sponsoring myself until I completed school,’’ he said while seated in his posh office at Chris Mall and Lodges.
After completing his secondary education, Chris managed to obtain a diploma in law in 2004 in Lusaka.
He also remembers working as a butcher boy when he was 21.
After secondary school, he was fortunate to find work as a casual worker at Agri Flora and later on at Zambia Export Growers Association (ZEGA).
He rose through the ranks at ZEGA such that later he worked as an export trainee clerk. All the while, Chris never relented with his hard work and told himself that the sky was the limit.
After working for three years at ZEGA, in 2004, Chris thought of venturing into his own business, something that has become a passion for him.
His business started with a boutique selling clothes at Chelston main market. It marked the beginning of his success.
Two years later, he thought of expanding his business and formed a clearing and forwarding business which was also a success.
He was now unstoppable as his determination became the driving force to even become more successful in life.
‘‘After working hard in the clearing and forwarding business, I built my first house in Chelston. This was before I thought of venturing into real estate business even at a large scale like I am doing now,’’ he said.
After building his first house, Chris thought of starting a business which could give him monthly income and this is how the Chris Mall and Lodges idea was born.
He says the area where Chris Mall stands now was just a bush but because of his focus he bought the land and now the complex, which houses more than 18 shops, is a household name in Chelston and surrounding areas.
‘‘The thought of a complex was one way of my thinking ahead. I thought about what people would want in the next 10 years and I was not wrong,’’ he said.
Chris said that after successfully building the famous Chris Mall, he thought of a business where he could get money on a daily basis. He then started building the Chris Mall Lodge in Chamba Valley which boasts of a conference room, 32 rooms and a bar.
‘‘This place is quiet such that those that come here feel that they are outside Lusaka. The serene environment and view is what makes this place unique. Those that want to experience this should come here,’’ Chris quipped.
Asked if he is contemplating joining politics after a successful business stint, Chris said without giving details: ‘‘I have set a standard in business and now I want to work for the people.’’
Chris, who employs several people at his lodges, said when one is helped, there is also a need for them give back to the people.
He said his focus is to inculcate a culture of hard work among the youths and quoted a Bible scripturefrom 1Thessalonians that the lazy should not eat.
He said it pains him to see young people early in the morning move from one bar to another in search of alcohol when they can engage themselves in more productive work.
Chris said he also wants to work with the women folk as they are the ones who hold the family together, adding that he also envisages clean markets with proper sanitation where business could be conducted properly.
He also says his success could not have been possible without his wife of 16 years, Gloria Musonda, and their five children: Charles, Chris Jnr, Natasha, Peter and Alfred.
Chris summed up the story of his journey in life so far with a call that he wants to work for the people of Munali constituency while also calling on the youths to take up their space in the development agenda.

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