Benjamin Nakomolwa is one of hundreds of people we support in Tanzania every year.
Two years ago we were really struggling to make ends meet.Benjamin Nakomolwa
Benjamin runs small metal fabricators Sumbetin Metalwork. A lack of tools and basic business know-how meant Benjamin and his colleague Bahati William were unable to make any money from the business. With a little help from Tools for Self Reliance and its partners all that changed.
Benjamin Nakomolwa (left) and Bahati William
Benjamin, whose physical disability leaves him unable to walk, and Bahati used to work on an Arusha street, quite literally – their ‘workshop’ was just a dusty patch of ground. From there they made door grilles but unsurprisingly the quality of the work was poor. They didn’t know how to keep proper records and they frequently undercharged their customers. This wasn’t just bad for the business, it was bad for their families too. Benjamin couldn’t afford to pay for his children to go to school or put a roof over their heads.
Our partner the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) stepped in and offered Sumbetin Metalworks 12 days of precious business skills training. Benjamin learnt how to keep track of orders and look after customers, and passed on what he learnt to the other members of the group. To supplement the training the business acquired a bicycle repair toolkit and an arc welder for a nominal charge.
I can now pay school fees and it is easier for me to pay my rent.
Fast forward two years and Sumbetin is virtually unrecognisable. ‘We now keep proper records when we buy raw materials. We are able to charge a higher price for the things we make, so we’re earning more’, says Bahati.
The door grilles have been joined by a new range of decorative lights and candlestick holders. The arc welder is used for small jobs and there is enough money left over in the bank to hire heavy duty welding equipment in town for the larger jobs.
Best of all, Sumbetin now has its own workshop so it is now longer working on the street at the mercy of the elements.
Benjamin and Bahati’s future is now firmly in their own hands. They have started to reinvest the money they have earned. For example, they are installing an electricity supply to their new workshop and they are training up four apprentices, so that by this time next year they will be fully skilled (or fundis in Kiswahili). And to give themselves a competitive edge they plan to offer delivery to their customers on future orders.