A passion to save, a passion to serve for this Malawian business owner
From a baker to a business tycoon who owns one of Malawi’s prestigious venues which has hosted a variety of memorable events.
Robin Alufandika claims to be your average middle aged African man who represents the ever so common rags to riches cliché of a story. His story is the true reflection of what hard work, patience and determination embody.
Before venturing into property investment, Robin, now 60 years old, was nothing more than a local baker trying to make ends meet in the commercial capital of Malawi, Blantyre. He worked for Imports and Exports Trading as a Bakery Operations Manager. After close to a decade, he decided to set up his own bakery business. Kachere Bakeries became Robin’s first stint as a business owner.
The bakery business was very successful. It afforded him a comfortable life and he was able to send his four children to the best schools. It was also Robin’s way of serving the community. But Robin began to dream of a different trade that would be less involving.
“The bakery business was very involving. Sometimes, I was required to spend up to 18 hours working at the factory. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up for long,” he lamented.
Having travelled to other countries, Robin saw that Malawi was lagging behind in terms of venues that could accommodate different events and create an exciting experience. This is when he began to embark on a journey which was at first over ambitious and almost impossible. “I thought I could establish something that the community would enjoy using”, explained Robin in a relaxed and calm tone.
With nothing but a dream and savings from his bakery business, Robin was now going through an exodus which would take him at least 5 years to complete. While he had been able to save a lot of funds, it was not enough to finish such an ambitious project swiftly. After over 5 years of toiling and persistence, the project was now finally completed. In 2011, Robin became the proud owner of Robin’s Park. A 1500-seater event facility situated in Blantyre.
But this was not the end of the road for the middle aged dreamer. Although the project became a success, he later succumbed to public demand and pressure to establish yet another facility that could provide the same services in Zomba. Eventually Robin acquired land in Zomba, a city located in the eastern part of Malawi. Again, he was faced with the challenge of actualizing his dreams due to lack of capital.
As luck would have it, he was introduced to Business Partners International (BPI), a financial institution which finances a wide range of businesses based on not only the security but the viability of the idea and the business owner’s character.
“I read about BPI in a local newspaper and contacted them. Fortunate enough I approached them and it worked. It was a process but I managed to adhere to all their conditions and requests at each stage. They are an organized financial institution”.
After fulfilling all the requirements, BPI helped Robin with the construction of a 1000-seater event facility in Zomba. Unlike his previous project which took him nearly 5 years to complete, Robin was able to finish the second Robin’s Park facility in slightly under two years with BPI’s assistance.
According to Robin, 80% of the bookings are from weddings which is not surprising because they offer excellent cold room services, great parking space and powerful generators to deal with power outages.
Regarding some of the difficulties he faces in the business, Robin admits that running such facilities has its shortfalls. He cited vandalism of property as a major challenge among other things.
Nonetheless, life has definitely become better for Robin as he has now fulfilled a better part of his dreams as a middle aged man. His drive still remains to provide facilities for events that will serve a meaningful purpose in the communities.
As for his future prospects, Robin says he would like to venture into small scale farming as he continues to age.“I want to urge business owners not to be afraid if they need to acquire loans. The only way you can grow your business is when you have the financial muscle to invest in it. Financial institutions like Business Partners International are willing to promote business ownership and entrepreneurship across the continent,” he says.