Features

Making of a village entrepreneur

SAYENI Banda in his grocery store.

NICHOLAS KAWINGA, Sinda
THE lamentation is common among young people, including college and university graduates – there are no jobs.

But Sayeni Banda is totally different.
Sayeni is an up-and-coming young village entrepreneur who owns and runs a well-stocked, small grocery shop at Kawalala village in Sinda District of Eastern Province.
The shop is ever busy dispersing the daily domestic needs to a cluster of villages.
Born 21 years ago, at the nearby Nsalamba village, Sayeni has an older brother, Kasaba, who three years ago left the village for Kitwe to seek a menial job. Fate with him, Banda lost a father early on in life that he had to abandon school only at Grade Six for his mother could not afford to provide for his school requirements single-handedly.
By 2015, Sayeni had embarked on doing all sorts of odd jobs in the community to raise some money that could sustain his daily needs. Think of taking maize to the grinding-mill for people at a fee, bicycle-ferrying of a teacher from a point near the village to Chafulu Primary School and back to pick him for home, a good 11kms or so, for a paltry K100 per month.
But it was an income, and he would keep some of the money to start a business.
The principle is: keep the vision, constantly work towards it, and the rest shall fall in place with time.
As the money slightly grew, in 2016, Sayeni bought a carton of 50 packets of soya pieces in it. Using a bicycle, he started selling to the surrounding villages and sometimes to far-off ones. Soya pieces being immediate and easy ndiyo to prepare, and of course a nutritious delicacy, the business was good, and the money, little by little, started rolling in. Turnover, they call it.
At this point, Sayeni managed to raise a K1,000. Without waiting for much more, this amount was the turning point to his dream to ever open a grocery shop. His vision cast clear on a distant horizon, it was so much near in his young heart to start.
Sayeni got K300 and, with the help of his mother, Alice Banda, did repairs to the old mud family structure which he converted into a shop. Of the remaining K700, he ordered salt, sugar, bath soap, washing soap, cooking oil, sweets, biscuits, needles and many others.
With small quantities of these items, the grocery business was on the run. And the rest is history, like they say.
“This young man started it hard, cycling around the villages selling soya pieces every day of every week, to this shop. I’m very happy and proud of him, he’s a humble boy”, reflected Mrs Banda, with a smile of joy to the sky.
When asked if she thinks he will grow and sustain the business, she says, “he’s a much focused young man, he will grow it… one day soon”.
Indeed, Sayeni is a humble, soft-spoken, almost a shy young man but with a set vision.
When most youths his age and older, both in the rural and urban settings, have taken to pleasure seeking, indulging in serious beer drinking, smoking, drugs and illicit sex, he does not participate in any of the listed.
In fact, he has never tasted alcohol nor smoked, and instead he has opted to marry, which he did to Ireen Banda, only last July.
Sayeni’s shop has become a real utility in this community, so much so now that it is ever well-stocked and catering to the most daily needs of the people. He largely orders his goods from Sinda, sometimes from Chipata town.
Asked if he has a bank account, he says no. This writer advised him to quickly open one, and never to keep money in the house for long for obvious fears of fire and theft.
“The problem with most young people is that they wait for a lot of money to start a business. Just start small, and don’t waste the money you get on beer and other things,” Sayeni counsels other young people.
He hopes to build a bigger shop in the next two years.
Well, Sayeni could be trying his lot, but the young man honestly needs help to really grow his business; some basic entrepreneurial skills, a grant or a loan from a government department or some civil society organisation working in the space of youth empowerment activities.
Certainly, other youths will emulate him and develop from wherever they are instead of that ‘dream job’ in the city.
“I have never craved to go to Lusaka, my life is here,” Sayeni says.
Indeed when most youths are in serious hell-bent mischief, a latent young village entrepreneur in Sayeni could be a timely heart-warming waft of fresh air.
Like someone said, what is important is not how much one leaves to his children, but how much one leaves in his children for them to live fulfilled lives, and be valuable members of a community.
Young Sayeni Banda is already of value to his community.

Tender

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