“Big businessman, that’s what I want to be,” Frank Machalo declared when we first met him in 2015 and were discussing dreams.
Here we were in rural Zambia, far from the polished investment offices and three-piece suits that one might presume big business to entail. But he insisted.
“Big businessman,” he kept repeating. “That’s what I want to do.”
On the surface, based on grades and other technical skills, one wouldn’t think Frank was Big Businessman material. But some people just have that sixth sense, and that’s Frank.
After graduating from high school a year later, we met with him under a guava tree to discuss his ideas.
“I want a stall in the market,” he said.
Of course! The market is one of the biggest businesses around, with a bunch of small vendors selling their wares.
“I want to sell sugar, eggs, rice, oil, and air time,” he said. “And I’ll have a sign. Frank Machalo Enterprises.”
The next step was to discuss a business grant. We had him sketch out his business plan, which he presented to us several days later. His idea was to purchase goods at a wholesale price, repackage them, and sell them for a profit. Pastor Bernard could drive him to Solwezi, where items were cheaper.
Frank signed an official agreement with Zangi officials with a big thumbs up.
Frank was exuberant in his enthusiasm. In fact, he was so exuberant that he didn’t wait to go to Solwezi with Bernard. Instead, he bought his items in Zambezi, proceeding to sell them at a slight markup.
The day before we left, Frank’s business operation was set up. He stood there behind his table, huge grin on his face, giving us the thumbs up.
We returned in April, however, and Frank was despondent.
Unfortunately, he was unable to make the trips to Solwezi to get goods at wholesale prices, which made his business suffer.
We sat with Frank, this time under a mango tree, and talked about what he needed to do to take his business to the next level.
In August he is prepared to take his first trip to Solwezi, and has incorporated the cost of good transportation into his business plan. And now with a small loan from Zangi, Frank has turned things around.
He taught us not to presume there’s one way to view a dream.