From building supervisor to heading a stove company: Alfred Chisale from Lilongwe, Malawi
19 September 2017
The improved cookstove sector not only supplies people with cleaner, energy-efficient stoves but provides jobs and a long-term perspectives for income generation in Malawi.
When Alfred Chisale, 33, talks about his business he radiates enthusiasm. He is sitting in the shade next to the production building while from the inside of the building one can hear the voices of his employees. Alfred is telling his journey to becoming a business owner in the stove sector. He used to work as a building supervisor in Lilongwe, his home town. Ever since Alfred visited some producers of the improved cookstove Chitetezo Mbaula in 2011, he was inspired and wondering how he could set up a stove business of his own. In January 2012 then, he took the plunge and purchased land in Chadza, which is close to a clay source. “I settled my own business called Dziwani Enterprises,” Alfred smiles.
The lack of marketing skills was a challenge for him in the beginning: despite having produced 300 stoves, he wasn’t able to sell them at the market. He overcame the initial problem with the help of MAEVE, EnDev’s local implemantation partner in Malawi. Alfred’s company now sells most of the stoves via MAEVE.
The production process
The men and women that are working at his company produce improved cookstoves of the model Chitetezo Mbaula for the Malawian market. In the workshop, the men are putting clay in a mould and spread it evenly to create the combustion chamber while others cut out the part for the fuel inlet. Another woman is running a wet cloth over the surface of the clay pot in order to remove last bumps or burrs.
Stable income for Alfred and his employees
One of the employees, Chimalanga Makonjeni, used to be a farmer but he lacked the tools to cultivate his land. He started working at Alfred’s company in 2015.”When I started working here at Dziwani my life transformed,” Chimalanga says. The husband and father always hoped to provide his family with a nice set of furniture. Since working as stove producer, he not only could buy a new sofa, he now can feed his family properly. Today, Chimalanga and his family own a 2.5 acre maize field and 1.5 acre field of groundnuts.
Role model in the stove sector
Alfred’s business is going well. He not only is able to provide stable jobs for his employees but he contributes to protecting people from harmful emissions while cooking. By reducing the firewood needed for cooking Alfred’s clients also save money in the long run.
Watch Alfred tell his story in the video below.