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A day in the life: ‘I started my first business at age 18’

By Marshall Van Valen in Lusaka
Posted on Friday, 7 October 2016 14:51

I kind of have a unique history, I like to believe. I was born on Friday the 13th. My father passed away when I was three and my mum when I was seven, so my whole life I have lived knowing that I am here for a greater purpose. I would always think to myself how I could make my life better and make my parents proud even though they can’t see it. I was raised by my mother’s sister, who is a phenomenal woman. She gave me the best things in life. But I always felt that thing, like no matter how lovely, amazing she was [I] could always feel the gap between her and my real mum.

I went to David Kaunda Technical High School, which is in the top five schools in Zambia. It is number one, but I am just trying to be modest. When I was getting to 15, 16, 17, I became a rebel in my family. My mum – I call her my mum because she raised me, it is very important – she did not know what to do with me because I was always out clubbing, whatever. My grades took a slump down and I found myself dropping out of school in 11th grade. I started my first business at age 18. It was a food delivery service. It kind of derailed me from finishing my education, which I eventually did but it was after a great deal of convincing by my parents.

In that time, when I took a slight leave of absence, I fell in love with business. I fell in love with selling electronics. I found out that people were making so much money buying stuff on eBay and bringing it to Zambia and selling it for four to five times the price because of ignorance. Wow! I can make money myself without my parents? I love it. This is what I want to do.

Two weeks after I finished school I took a job working in a supermarket and my boss was really young. And I said, how is this possible? I want to be that guy. He really moulded me, he gave me books to read. He told me that education is not only in the confines of the school.

We launched Musanga Logistics in Lusaka three months ago. We expect to perfect our platform so that we can expand to other cities like Harare, Gaborone and Johannesburg. Our first website was built for free by our CTO. Our social media accounts were set up for free by our marketing manager. And our accountant did everything for free. These are people who just knew me or were in the community and said I like what you are doing and I would like to be part of the vision.

I am up at 3:50AM every morning, Monday to Sunday. I am in the gym five days a week by 5AM, in the office by 8AM and I leave at 8-9PM. During the time I am in the office until the time I leave, there is the magic that goes on between me and my computer.

Tony Elumelu said to me: “As long as you are friendly with staff but firm on the alignment of vision…” That is pretty much what I intend to do. Sometimes you blow up, but I am aiming to be a more friendly but firm manager. I am doing good on the firm and we are getting there on the friendly.

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