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Making ends meet with K400 capital

Who said one needs millions of kwacha to start a business?

When Patuma Bamusi married a businessman after the death of her parents, she thought that was the end of her problems.

But to Patuma’s dismay, it turned out that things were not as rosy as she had thought, even if she was married to a man selling secondhand clothes.

As a homemaker, she looked to her husband to provide everything, and yet the latter struggled to feed the family and pay school fees for their children.

T he seemingly endless problems prompted Patuma to ask for some money from her uncle and used it to start a business to help her husband to support the family.

“An uncle gave me K400 which I used as capital to open a restaurant in 1990,” says Patuma, 51, who hails from Nadumbo Village, Traditional Authority Kalembo in Balaka.

She says she was motivated to venture into business when she saw that her husband could not provide for the family’s needs singlehanded.

“My husband alone could not afford fees for our six children let alone buy them clothes,” says Patuma, who runs a restaurant at Lilongwe’s Tsoka Flea Market.

“Things were cheap then and with K400, I started my restaurant business and it has been growing over the years.”

Patuma receives a maximum of 50 customers on a good a day, but laments that business is no longer as quick as it used to be when she started.

She says she spends between K7,000 and K8,000 daily on food stuffs, but makes a profit of about K 1,000.

“I do not make a huge profit because of the increase in commodity prices,” Patuma says. “But I do not intend to quit the business as it is the only way of keeping my money.”

Patuma’s business may not be very profitable, but it has enabled her to help her husband educate their four children up to secondary school level.

Four of Patuma’s six children are now married and she and her husband are living with two who are at secondary school.

“It was my wish that the children attend tertiary education, but I cannot afford fees,” she says.

Since her meals cost between K250 and K500, Bamusi attracts a lot of customers as most restaurants around Area 3 Market sell meals at K1, 000.

Che-Yusuf, one of the customers, says he often goes Patuma’s restaurant because her prices are fair, adding that with only K1000, one can have breakfast, lunch and supper.

“The prices are very fair,” Che-Yusuf says. “But we wish the city council helped these women build a good place where they can be running their business easily.”

Patuma stays in Chinsapo where she bought a land and built a house with the money she raised from her business.

She urges fellow women not to depend on their husbands for everything, but to start small businesses to complement their husband’s efforts alleviate poverty in their household. “Poverty, food insecurity, and high school fees are on the increase.

We need to be strong and not just depend on government to help us,” Patuma says.

She adds: “Let’s work hard as Malawians so that when one plan fails, another one may work.”

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