Friday, October 17, 2008

Mary Phombeya

From Inter Press Service News Agency:

"Through hard work and resilience, Malawian entrepreneur Mary Phombeya has developed her once small and struggling business outfit into a fully fledged company. She imports fashionable clothes – for women, children and men – from Dubai, Thailand and Hong Kong which she sells locally.

nitiated in April 2006 with a measly 3,000 dollars, the clothing business has given her a five-bedroom house in one of the affluent areas in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. She is also able to send her two children and three other relatives to the country’s distinguished schools from the profits she makes.

‘‘I was so reliant on my husband before I started my business. But I am now very independent as I have a daily cash flow from the sales,’’ Phombeya says proudly. She makes an average profit of 5,000 dollars per month and provides employment to two women.

The business is different from when she kick-started it two years ago. She did not even have a business plan. ‘‘I had no real vision at all when I started. I just decided to accompany somebody to Hong Kong who had been selling clothes to me. I brought back whatever I could lay my hands on but most of the clothes did not sell because I had only bought what I’d liked,’’ she explains.

Phombeya learnt her lesson from that incident and decided to take her trade to greater heights. She went around to offices, asking potentials clients what their desired piece of clothing would be.

There are a number of sacrifices that Phombeya has to make in her quest for an income. She throws the need for privacy to the wind during her travels as she usually shares a hotel room with four other traders. This helps them save money.

She also has to be tough and stop herself from being enticed to buy goods that she might want for herself and her family while shopping for her customers.

She holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics which, she says, has also helped her in being resourceful."

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