In small towns in Malawi, young men who want to start their own ICT business are teaming up with the unlikeliest of partners, including barbers. The entrepreneurs are almost always men in their 20s or even teens. Most have some schooling and can read and write. They call themselves DJs, copying video materials for a small fee in a shop called a “burning centre”.
Many of these DJs partner with relatives or friends who have some sort of shop. This senior partner buys a used computer or a PC assembled in Malawi, which can cost about US$200: a lot of money for the youth, but affordable for an older man with a small, profitable business. Kinship is crucial in this relation. There can be mistrust and tension between shopkeepers who buy a PC and simply hire a youngster: the older man doesn’t understand exactly what the young one is doing.
A barber is the perfect partner for an ICT shop. Both businesses rely on a little skill, some fixed capital assets and a loyal customer base. When the barber can no longer find more heads to cut, an ICT shop where they burn video materials may be a logical way to expand, and clients like the combined services of uploading videos while getting a haircut. More
This is a Re Blog from ICT Update # Issue 83. Original story was written by J. BENTLEY, P. VAN MELE and R.K. UDEDI