In 2010 you may have met him as a humble hardworking teacher at Chinamwali Private Secondary School. He was so committed to his work that the Managing Director of the school did not hesitate to advance a small loan to this employee. It is this loan that completely transformed the life of a teacher into the current Zomba’s young Entrepreneur by the name of Mr. Gift Whayo.
“I used the loan plus a few of my savings to procure a welding machine. This is the machine that I started my welding business with at Chinamwali in Zomba district” Said Mr. Whayo during this interview while seated in his black leather office chair at Zipatso Limited compound right at six miles road block in Zomba. He told SMEDI Website that his beginning was as hard as any startup in Malawi. It was more difficult for him since he had to balance his time between his teaching job and managing a startup enterprise. “What I used to do is, every day after knocking off, I would go round Zomba, on foot, meeting at least five people in a day and tell them about my business. More often, I faced rejection up until one day when someone gave me the first business to do window flames for his house,” he recalls.
Such was the humble beginning of Zipatso Construction. From operating from a backyard of his rented Chinamwali home, the welding business started growing that he had to rent a shop as his workshop. He then saw a gap that most of his competitors lacked proper formalization. Almost all the competitors he knew were not registered with the Registrar of Companies, had no receipts or invoices to issue out to customers. He capitalized on this becoming the early formalized welding enterprise at Chinamwali. Zomba, being an “intellectual city,” this strategy simply positioned his business at pole position to penetrate the formalized market where documentation is prerequisite to doing business. With hardworking spirit and complete pursuance to excellence, Zipatso Limited started growing from a mere welding company to a company that does more within the construction industry.
“Discipline has been a major factor behind my success. I always invested a bigger proportion of profits back in the business. This allowed me to procure this 3 acres of land where I have constructed my head office,” said the soft toned Mr. Whayo. At the premise, he has an Engineering Department which specializes in fabrication (manufacturing) of airtime selling kiosks, wet cargo container carriers, trailers, clinic metal beds, movable stretchers and bicycle ambulance to isolate a few key products. He has also a Construction Department where he is able to manufacture cement bricks, interlocking blocks, sell quarry stones and bid for building and construction jobs. Lastly, he has a Plant Hiring Department where he hires out some construction plants and machineries. Indeed, so imposing are his structures on the Zomba-Blantyre road such that they are so difficult to miss. The company has over 35 permanent employees, and creates over 1,000 temporal jobs in a year. As part of their corporate responsibility, the company opens up to TEVETA and technical colleges to send their students on internship. Recognizing his humble beginnings, he managed to grow his enterprise to a force to reckon with and has become the obvious choice as a mentor and motivational speaker in SMEDI activities. Despite his admirable achievements, he continues to better himself as a person. Currently, he has enrolled for an online Master’s Degree in Construction Management.
“I feel we, (Zipatso Limited), can grow more if we receive the right support from relevant stakeholders. I believe if government and other partners in this country start prioritizing procuring our local products, even the one million jobs, Zipatso Limited can create.” He said. “We are thankful to those government departments and non-state institutions that have procured from us. They can certify our quality service delivery” he concluded.
Some of the Zipatso Construction Limited Employees pausing for a departmental photo