Local potter’s business booms

When the economy collapsed, Tapison Magama, a worker in the clay and brick industry, decided to start his own business and, despite significant challenges, he is generating an impressive turnover.

Other pottery initiatives have been established, like Kwamsasa Pottery in Harare that employs people from the high density suburbs.
Other pottery initiatives have been established, like Kwamsasa Pottery in Harare that employs people from the high density suburbs.

“When I completed secondary education at Makumbe High School in 1988 I did various jobs in the informal sector. Then I joined Sitra Pottery in Melfort. The company was owned by a British National, Gore Gambia. That is when my star started to shine.

“Gambia taught me pottery. I specialized in clay vases and flower pots. The company supplied both the local and foreign markets in South Africa and the United Kingdom. My stay at the company stretched from 1989 to 1997. Then my employer wrapped up his business and left for the UK as the economy had started falling apart.

“Armed with my new skills, I embarked on a similar venture in Mayambara, near Chitungwiza. I bought a Potter’s Wheel which can produce a small vase every five minutes. I bought bush clay from nearby farms and made vases and flower pots. My market was local households, Bells Florist Shop and Florist Wonder in Borrowdale, Harare. Business was brisk as I sold an average of 500 products every month.

“Gradually, the market began shrinking due to poor circulation of money in the and the galloping inflation. Space for finished products and transport logistics became a challenge.

“At the end of 2001, I shifted base to my home area at Gaura Village, in Mrewa. Here, anthill clay and rondo clay are in abundance and they are free. I mix the different clay ingredients with water and come up with quality clay for pottery.

“By 2009, I had engaged six youths as assistants, to boost productivity. They later left for greener pastures elsewhere. Some crossed borders and established their own informal pottery projects in South Africa and Botswana. At present, I am running the project with my wife.

“My markets are both local and in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. My clients are mainly in the Landscaping, internal and external décor industry. I have increased production to 700 products per month. The smallest product sells for $5, with the biggest fetching $25, yielding at least $6OO per month in gross earnings.

“Logistical and specialist labour shortages are frustrating the smooth running of the project. I need my own truck to transport finished products. And if I could engage specialist marketing personnel, business would boom.

“If the business and economic environment opens up, I will diversify into floor and wall tiles. Producing dinner plates, coffee mugs, casserole dishes and other clay products, is also my ambition. This would force me to employ more staff.

With the ongoing electrification of rural areas and the subsequent rapid growth of rural business centres, Magama hopes to open branches at several Growth Points across the country. This would help boost production of his much sought-after products.

Post published in: Business

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