There are some women entrepreneurs who don’t just think of building one business, but have the vision and imagination to create several, and Malawian entrepreneur Michelle Mbilizi is one of those.
What does your company do?
My company, Absolute Furniture, deals in top-class furniture and interior finishings including jacuzzis, saunas, porcelain tiles, and we also do interior decor. Marcus Hill is a specialist fashion boutique where we deal in high-end designer wear. Eastenders Car Hire is an executive car hire company dealing mainly in executive vehicles and 4x4s. Marcus Properties builds houses and rents them out. Our new baby in this business venture being the Executive Lodge we are building in the low density location of Area 12. Marcus Farms is a new business venture started last year with farms located in Salima and Lilongwe. SJR catering is a catering business where we offer specialist catering services to companies. Marcus Resorts is a new project which we plan to venture into this year after acquiring a beach plot in Salima by the lake shore.
What inspired you to start your company?
I come from a business background. When I was studying in South Africa I used to work part-time for a PR company, Village Communications, which dealt a lot with entrepreneurs, etc, and this motivated me to open my own business upon completion of my studies.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We offer our customers more than their money can buy, in other words, real value for money. We sell top quality items and our customers know we provide a warranty at the same time - nobody can beat our prices.
Tell us a little about your team
In each company we have professionals who are always ready to assist. The supervisors undertake their work professionally, and cameras used in our business environments are operational 24/7 to check on the levels of customer service being provided to our valued customers.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I started in business whilst studying in South Africa. When coming for holidays I would buy clothes, spare parts, and satellite dishes to sell in Malawi. Later I learned about installation and started selling and installing the dishes too. When going back to college I would buy Savco Jeans, Malawi Gin, Brandy and MPL hair oil. I would supply the Gin and Brandy to Ambassador and Parklane Hotels. The MPL hair oil I would sell to Alex salons and some to individuals. Upon returning to Malawi I borrowed K60,000 from Commercial Bank (currently Standard Bank) as I wanted to travel to the USA to purchase high quality products. The business flourished and I built my first property. In 2009 I bought 5 plots in the low density location of Area 43. That same year I took a loan from my bankers, Standard Bank, and bought 4 branded vehicles to launch other business, Eastenders Car Hire. As business was going well, I started building my Lodge in Area 12. My next business venture saw me diversifying into farming and 2 years ago I decided to go into the furniture market as I noted there were gaps in the industry for good quality furniture. But I have come this far all thanks to my bankers, Standard Bank, who are always there for me whenever I want to start a new venture.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
My future plan is to build a Resort by the lake since I already have a plot there, and to go into livestock farming.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Delivering and satisfying my customers.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
To persevere. Account for each penny. Don’t spend more than you make. Hard work.
Source: Lionesses of Africa