Married with five children (two biological and three adopted), Jean finished secondary school in 1997 and went to work for Unilever as a boiler assistant operator and then to a furniture company as a technician. In 2000 he set up his first company travelling to Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania to procure men’s suits for local market. A serial entrepreneur, he now runs three businesses including a shop, a nursery school and a baking company. He is a keen Arsenal fan and standing to be an MP for Neno North in Malawi.
In 2008 Welu started selling dried and fresh fish from his home in Chikonde. By 2011 he had rented a shop in his village selling chicken, chicken parts, soya pieces, eggs, sausages, rice and dry and fresh fish.
Married and living in London, Andrew is a financial analyst at Rio Tinto. He has a law degree from Australia, work experience in mergers and acquisitions and an MBA from London Business School.
Andrew and Welu focused on record-keeping and customer care. They focused on keeping simple financial records that demonstrated his daily sales, wages and costs so he was able to effectively track his profits. Welu was encouraged to ask his customers what kind of products they want as well as tracking his slow- and quick-moving product lines. He discovered that many people were selling rice and beans so he minimised these orders and started to buy more chicken part products as he is the only person in the area selling these; including feet and heads which are the more affordable parts of a chicken.
Using the new skills in financial management he set up Bright Beginning Nursery to provide classes and childcare to parents in the village. Welu is adamant that without his new skills he would not have had the confidence to open his school and run it well.
Welu has seen a 65% increase in profits and five new jobs: one new sales assistant role, three new care assistants at the nursery and one new baker job supplying scones to the school children.
He used the shop’s profits to buy a commercial plot to build his own shop and expand into a hardware store ready for 2014.
“I had the opportunity to learn first-hand about a country I knew little about, understand the day-to-day challenges people in remote parts of Africa face, and develop a connection with people in a part of the world I would not otherwise have access to. The direct nature of the service provided through Grow is very rewarding, as the feedback loop from idea to implementation is short and there is little wasted resource involved. One hour of time on the phone is one hour of help provided. The variety of businesses in the Grow stable has also allowed me to select business challenges that will allow me to work on sectors or areas of business that I want to develop more skills in.”