When 25 year old Justice Msukwa , a holder of Diploma in Community and Rural Development was rejected for a job by seven organisations even when he did well in interviews he thought that’s the end for his brighter future.

After failing to access a formal job in the country’s third largest city of Mzuzu, the young man who grew up in a pathetic environment with full of struggles to get through his qualification went back to the village  and started living ordinary life, a sign of giving up plans to get employed .

Justice Msukwa (left)

“It wasn’t an easy decision to go back home as long as I recalled The tough life I used to live at home,” he says “however, I couldn’t force matters to continue living in the city searching for a job as the city was very expensive for me to live on.”
When he reached back home in the remote Chitipa District, about 340KM from Mzuzu, just says became a laughing stalk for the village. apparently, he was the the highly educated young man in the village.
“People across the village were laughing at me that education has never benefited me at all, adding that I could better utilise the time spent for my education into farming,” he explains “It was really a tough situation for me such that I could spend my days and nights in the house for fear of being laughed at by the villagers,” he told Raw Africa.
However, this did not completely let him down ,but rather, strengthen him to deeper on other avenues he would take to challenge the villagers that he is a ” great mind and an assert for the village” being the most educated boy in the area.
Like a fool, he one day wake up early morning and walked a distance of about 20KM to meet some one who was doing better in the village for a piece work. This was actually the Genesis of his success story as one of the successful entrepreneurs in Malawi.
“The man known as Mr Mgemezulu also rejected me at first since he thought I was a thief, but called me back after a walked for almost 50 metres, honestly I don’t know what came to his mind.
“Then, he offered me a second hand Bicycle to be using as a tax on condition that I pay him 50℅ out of what I earn evry day.”
He says he didn’t hesitate to grab the bicycle because he that that was a winding road to his brighter future.
Justice then, ventured into the bicycle taxi business , and was apart from people , carrying goods and earn alot of money.
Being in the village where access to proper road network for vehicles remains a challenge, the young man utilised the shortage of transport opportunity to maximise his businesses.
“I could carry people from hospital to their homes, market, school and other place. I could at least make 2500 in local currency, (around $3.5) and share equally with the owner of the bicycle.
Surprisingly,  instead of using the money raised from his business to buy basic needs, Justice invested it by buying his own bicycle.  At this time he returned the first bicycle to the owner and bought his, as this moDe of transport started attracting many customers.
Since he began, Justice has bought fifteen more bicycle-taxis and has employed fourteen riders who are paid monthly. He is now a millionaire in the local currency. He is using profits realised from this business to invest in other big projects like lodges, maize mills, farms , and has become an employer of a number of qualified Malawians who face unemployment problems.

 Bicycle-taxis are becoming a main mode of transport in Malawi where 80% of the population live in rural areas and survive on less than a US dollar a day, according to surveys.

Justice, like other university graduates who are unable to find work in the traditional economy, have vowed to continue making living this way at least for now.

Most people like Justice Msukwa resort to the bicycle taxis because they are affordable  and reliable as they can reach difficult places that are hard to get to by regular passenger vehicle, hence attracting hundreds of recent university graduates who are failing to access employment in the formal sector due to Lack Of job According to Francis Kauai a, , Minister of Labour, youth , sports and Manpower Development, at least 1.9 Million Malawians are failing to access employment.

Survey shows that more and more people engaging into the bicycle-taxi business have realized more profits and are no longer interested in seeking employment in the formal sector.

“It was not an easy going by then since I was just new in the industry and the fares were too low, “ said Msukwa.

“However, my story is changed completely because am raising a lot of money from the business than what a graduate civil servant earns per month.”

Growing bicycle-taxi business in Malawi

He estimates that he now makes MWK 3000 about (4 USD) a day per bicycle and  MWK 90,000 (120 USD) per month, unlike an average salary of a recent graduate working as a civil servant who earns about MWK 75,000.

“Like all informal transport, the barriers to entry are very low; all you need is a bicycle (or someone who will rent you one) and a cushion and handle bar for the back,” said Justice.

In Malawi,  bicycle-taxis have become so commonplace transport option, and  has its own name in different places  like in the country’s northern region capital, Mzuzu, it is called – Sacramento ( derived from Sacramento Speed Buses, a state run bus company which at the time was on the verge of dissolution and which bicycle-taxis began to replace).

Apart from carrying passengers, the transport is also used to ferry goods such as agricultural produce from farm or home to the market or other areas.

Meanwhile, government says the industry is largely contributing to employment creation and poverty reduction in Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries.

“Cycling and pedal power is increasingly becoming a tool for empowerment in Malawi, where bicycle taxis and bicycle ambulances are a method of transporting the poor and middle income earners,”  Minister Francis Kasaira told the local media.

The Minister says in some districts, the bicycle-taxi operators are well organized such that they even pay a road user fee to the district councils. She says the fee is used by the councils to implement social services projects geared at improving the livelihood.

According to the Minister, the government is working on plans to regard the industry as a recognized form of transport, a development that would lead operators to being licensed.

The initiative has also attracted support from the Malawi Police Service who through their community policing and road traffic departments have been training the operators on road traffic rules to reduce road accidents which have been so common due to reckless cycling.

“This industry is highly reducing crimes in the country because most of the people who were engaging in theft to earn a living are now generating money through the business hence our involvement in promoting the industry,” said Maurice Chapola, Northern Region Police spokesperson.

BY ELINA MBALE