SUNDAY PROFILE with CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
THE name ‘Kano nga ni bena’ butchery is slowly becoming a household name in the sweet town of Mazabuka. Nearly every market in the district has the butchery.
The butcheries, whose corporate colour is red, are owned by
Ezekiel Kalikeka who believes his life’s journey shows that it is possible for anyone to overcome poverty and live a life beyond their dreams.
The 59-year-old Kalikeka recalled how in his life, he has had to find ways to deal with challenges of hopping from one job to the other in search of a fortune.
When he was growing up, his biggest dream was to be a pilot, a dream that never came to pass. He found himself set on a different path.
“When I completed my secondary education, I went for military training but I ran away, I could not contend the hard training, I went back to Ndola,” Mr Kalikeka said.
In Ndola, he started working at a butchery owned by Stanford Mschili the former Copperbelt permanent secretary.
It was there that Zambeef spotted him to offer him better prospects. He rose through the ranks at Zambeef and became a manager for Zambeef Shoprite out let.
He worked for Zambeef Shoprite outlets in Ndola, Mansa, Lusaka and Mazabuka. His stint in Mansa ignited an interest of owning his own butchery.
The interest to venture into his own business grew when he was transferred to Mazabuka upon realising that it was easy to buy cattle there.
“While working for Zambeef, I started a small business on the side at home making sausages and supplying to some employees at Zesco. I also discovered that Mazabuka district had a lot of cattle. With the experience I had acquired at Zambeef, I resigned and started my own business,” Mr Kalikeka said.
Today, Mr Kalikeka owns five butcheries in Mazabuka and is about to open the sixth outlet.
At a time when the job market is fast becoming saturated and unemployment is spelling doom on young people’s lives, Mr Kalikeka has employed eleven youths in his business.
He said, “My employees are all youths. I want to empower them and help in supplementing government efforts to create jobs for youths”.
Mr Kalikeka, who learnt the art of preserving beef, making mince and sausages from Zambeef when he worked there, is passing the skill to his manager Manix Muteba and one of his daughters who helps out at one of the outlets.
He has also formed a netball team, going by the business name, Kano nga ni bena team. It’s from the same team that he picks some of the girls he employs in his outlets.
“The girls need to be empowered and kept busy to avoid them getting involved in mischievous activities,” Mr Kalikeka said.
He said business is about commitment, financial discipline with an eagerness to achieve a goal. He said one does not need huge amounts of money to start up a business.
He obtained a loan from Finca Zambia financial services to buy cutters, fridges, sausage and mince making machines.
With the overwhelming support he received after opening the first butchery four years ago, Mr Kalikeka worked hard and ensured that within the shortest period, he paid back the loan.
He urged other Zambians to venture into business and help create jobs for young people in the nation.
Mr Kalikeka said being honest, good customer relations and persistence in seeing the business grow has helped him reach where he is.
“My biggest motivation is the owners of Zambeef, who started small but today, they are a household name in the nation. They are determined to grow and they have been diversifying their business portfolio.
“I count myself lucky to have worked under them and learning the skill of owning a butchery. My prayer is to see a number of Zambians working for companies owned by foreigners to be inspired and in future become their own boss,” Mr Kalikeka said.
The other art Mr Kalikeka learnt from Zambeef is how to create good business relationship with suppliers. Since he started his butchery business in Mazabuka, he has had one supplier of cattle, a Mr Malambo from Chief Mwanachingwala’s area in Mazabuka.
All the time Mr Kalikeka runs out of meat, Mr Malambo has been to his rescue, even at short notice.
Mr Kalikeka a father of six and married to Bertha Banda, has managed to build a house for his family in Mazabuka. He also owns a house in Ndola.
He has also managed to take all his children to school. One of the sons is studying accountancy in Germany.
Mr Kalikeka, is grateful for the wavering support he has received from Mazabuka residents.
“One thing I have learnt since I started running my own butcheries is that hunger for success, inspiration, diligence and persistence are also the hallmarks of the success of entrepreneurs in smaller towns”.