Most people cannot say that they owned 3 successful businesses – let along by the time they were 16! But that is exactly what Amos Machaka has done.
When he was 13, Amos had to drop out of school because he was unable to pay his school fees. Determined not to let his little brother succumb to the same fate, he decided he would start a business. “I felt responsible for my family, that is what led me to start my first business,” he explained. Like many others, Amos’ first business was selling charcoal, which meant he had to bike about 3 hours to and from his village every day to get into the larger town.
On his 15th birthday, Tearfund’s local partner noticed the Amos’s entrepreneurial spirit and encouraged him to join a village savings and loan group. Amos was disciplined in his savings and soon after took out a loan to purchase 5 second-hand bicycles for his second business venture. “Walking into town takes too long, and taxis are expensive, so many people use bicycles to go sell their goods at the market,” said Amos.
To an outsider the bicycles were old, partially rusted, and had uncomfortable seats. But Amos recognized the demand and potential this idea had to not only provide him with an income, but also to help his community. The pay-off made the purchase worth the risk, and Amos was able to expand by purchasing 10 more bicycles for his rental business.
At age 16, he had an idea for a new business initiative. Like many teenagers, Amos enjoyed listening to music and was fascinated by films. This time his business was riskier as it centered around providing entertainment instead of meeting a tangible need. Amos’ two prior businesses focused on meeting a known market demand. But this time, he was trying to fulfill a gap he perceived without knowing what the demand might be.
Taking up the challenge, Amos took a loan from his savings group to purchase a computer where he could download music and make CDs for sale. He charged 200 Tanzanian shillings per song and the business quickly became a success.
Recently, Amos has invested in a TV to host movies and sports nights where he charges people to attend. His community loves coming together and watching different things, “it brings us closer, and allows us to laugh together for a few hours,” says a man from the village.
Thanks to your support, Amos is able to innovate and initiate business in his community, pay for his brother to attend school, and plan for the future.