Mike Mlombwa, the owner of CountryWide Car Hire, began his fame and fortune in the slums of Mwanza. As a child, Mike grew up in homes all around the village because his mother couldn’t afford to raise him. Friendly neighbors paid for his education, and in exchange he would work in gardens and tend to the cattle.
However, after completing his primary education, Mlombwa was unable to find anyone in the local village to further fund his education. As reported by BBC news, as a teenager, Mlombwa walked 50km (30 miles) to the nearest industrial city, Blantyre, because he could not afford bus fare.
In the commercial capital of Blantyre, Mlombwa found refuge in the church, where he stayed and began a part-time job that paid for his secondary schooling. Eventually, Mlombwa made enough money to buy his first car, allowing him to travel and buy stock in Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique. Shortly after Mlombwa acquired several cars and CountryWide Car Hire was born.
According to How Africa, Mlombwa remembers thinking, “the business became flooded [by competitors], especially from India…So I sat down and thought: What should I do?” He concluded that he would need a loan in order to expand his company, but the banks were hesitant to give him one due to his lack of prior education.
Yet Mlombwa was persistent, and he turned to various car owners for more vehicles in exchange for 20 percent commission. With a new fleet of cars, his business became profitable, and the banks granted him a loan.
The State of CountryWide Car Hire Today
Today, CountryWide Car Hire has over 80 vehicles and is a well-established service provider in the transport sector and carters for the car rental industry. Mlombwa still sees room for improvement, and he is now seeking to double his fleet. He is also constructing a number of hotels to add to his customer service venue, states How Africa.
When Mike Mlombwa reflects on the impoverished village he came from, he thanks God for the opportunities he was given. Although he was never able to attend college, Mlombwa stated, “I am happy to face challenges and I am happy I became an entrepreneur. And to be honest, I don’t see it as a regret that I did not finish my schooling because now I can employ people with masters degrees.”
Mlombwa acknowledges that now he has a name in the world, and he plans on sharing his success strategies with others. One of the most important qualities an entrepreneur can have is patience, because most entrepreneurs want fame and fortune right away. The key is to start small and grow strong, which is exactly what Mike Mlombwa did.
– Megan Hadley
Sources: BBC, Country Wide Car Hire, How Africa