John overcame poverty through poop businesses.
That’s right, you read that correctly.
“My parents were very poor,” John says. “I tried to go to school but my uniforms were so torn that I looked almost naked. Friends would laugh at me, and I decided to stop school.”
Without finishing his formal education, John had to jump from job to job. “I tried different jobs, some of which if I mentioned here you would think I am lying,” he says. He did recall a few though: herding goats, cultivating tobacco, hauling firewood. But nothing consistent or that paid well enough to sustain a decent standard of living for himself and his family.
Then he discovered construction. A mason in his village took John in as his assistant during a project in the city of Blantyre, Malawi. But after that initial project, finding construction jobs wasn’t easy, until the chief in his community announced they were looking for masons to be trained in sanitation businesses.
John was desperate, so he signed up.
At the training, conducted by Water For People and a local partner, Hygiene Village Project, John learned to build latrines and market his business. His first marketing strategy was to write his phone number on every latrine he built so customers could easily contact him if they needed more help in the future – a move that soon paid off.
John opened his sanitation shop in Blantyre, and before long he was able to expand to the capital city of Lilongwe. He went on building latrines, slowly growing his business and hiring employees. Then he discovered pit-emptying services.