By Imam Wali:
With poverty terrorising the country’s youth, the only way out for them is to explore the avenue of innovation. Most of them are quickly beginning to realise that staying idle can only complicate their lives.
Poverty, coupled with high rate of unemployment among the youth who also constitute a large part of the population, has further led them astray.
But there are a few brave ones who are now mastering the art of vocational training.
As the adage goes, there is no sweet without sweat; one James Magombo, who resides in Kachere, is singing a new song due to the skills he acquired at Nasawa Technical College in Zomba.
Sharing his personal experience, the youthful Magombo, who was born in 1992, says he is living his dream but is quick to point out that it was not easy to mobilise resources to set up his first garage.
“The journey started in 2012 upon completing the four year program studies at Nasawa Technical College. I studied motorcycle mechanics. We faced numerous challenges at the beginning, especially at mobilising tools and finding customers since we were new in the industry…everybody looked down upon us,” he said.
Magombo vividly remembers one customer he first worked with, singling this moment as the turning point of his fortunes.
“I had worked diligently on his motorcyle and he is the one who started spreading the message of my good work,” he recalls.
He also acknowledges the role his parents have thus far played, including giving him a compound where he operates from.
At the time of joining the industry, Magombo learnt one bitter lesson; that having motorcycle repairing skills without marketing skills was a minus. It became apparent that in order to make it to the top, he had to be at his level best.
“Competing for clients with already established shops and experienced engineers was another thing which I had to cope with. We had to understand the market as to what people expected from us and the services we had to offer. We still do the same to remain relevant on the market,” Magombo said.
Besides working with individuals, Magombo’s MC Motorcycle Garage managed to convince a wide range of customers, including government departments, party motorcade and other Non-Governmental Organisations that their services are top notch.
“MC motorcycle Garage has wide range of customers here in Blantyre, Lilongwe and some even come as far as Mzuzu. Government, NGOs has trust in us, including political parties as they have been coming here with their motorcycles to be repaired.
“I find my bread and butter, including other essentials, through motorcycle repairing. We are hoping of expanding in the near future so that we can add some services,” Magombo said.
Hard work, perseverance and determination are the attributes that Magombo shares with other youths, especially those who are still undecided of what to do for a living.
The message also goes to his team of seven youths he is nurturing at his garage.
He encourages young people to take vocational training seriously as it is a tool that can end their poverty and help improve the economy of the country.
“I have also managed to train some of the youth through hands-on-experience so that they too, in the near future, can open their shops and be independent,” he said
The response of most youths who are showing determination of ending poverty through vocational skills has excited Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (Teveta), as Teveta Head of Corporate Affairs Lewis Msasa, alluded to in a recent interview where he expressed their resolve to strengthen technical colleges further.
“As Teveta, we are satisfied that our graduates are contributing positively to the country’s economy. Without such trainings you would have seen some of these youths indulging themselves in malpractices but that is not the case as most of them through trainings acquired in technical colleges have opened their business which to us is impressive,” he said.
Msasa said just as there are bees where there is honey, it is not always smooth sailing, citing the challenge of space in technical colleges where he says over 14,000 students annually compete for available space of 4,000 in various courses.
For those who are still undecided, perhaps Magombo’s story will inspire them to explore vocational skills training.
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