By Abinaidah Chaseba
Unemployment is a problem that most African youths are facing today. It is an issue that youths have continued to cry about over the years. Should youths continue to fold their arms as they wait on the government to create employment for them? How are youths across the globe dealing with this problem?
23-year-old Zambian lady, Stacey Monde Kamwi, has escaped unemployment’s sting by venturing into entrepreneurship. Stacey is a young fashion designer and entrepreneur. She has had an interest in designing since she was a child, hence her first outfits were handmade designs that she made for her Barbie dolls. However, she started using a sewing machine early last year (2018).
“Everyone has a skill, we just need to use our passions to turn our dreams into reality,” Stacey M. Kamwi
Stacey has been living in a single-parent home since she was 8 years old. Her parents separated and she and her siblings remained in the custody of her mother. Her mother had to take care of most of the house expenses on her own and her father who remarried struggled to support two families. In 2018, her father fell ill and her mother lost her job. Stacey had to look for a job prior to her college graduation. She studied Banking and Finance but only found a job in a different field, Tourism. All the house expenses now shifted on her, however, her job was not lucrative enough to pay all the bills. It is at this point that she realized she needed an extra source of income.
“I bought two pieces of Chitenge material, designed two off-the-shoulder tops which were trending at that moment and I made my first sale - that’s how I started my business - with a capital of 100 Zambian Kwacha ($10) only,” Stacey narrates.
Her business grew from there. She started making outfits every day after work and had more people placing orders for different designs.
Stacey gets inspiration for some of her designs from what is trending online. She looks at designs on sites like Pinterest and Instagram – designs which she works around to give them a twist and her own identity. However, she mostly makes her own designs from scratch.
Miss Kamwi’s business continues to grow as she now sells at least 10 outfits in a week and has quite a number of loyal clients. She has gone ahead to brand her business with the name Mo’s Vogue with an online presence on Instagram and Facebook. She also supports other youths’ businesses by creating partnerships for her Chitenge material (African print materials) and other supplies for her business.
A lot of young people in her area have gotten inspiration from her. She says they walk up to her or call her seeking business advice from her. Stacey has brought her siblings and a few other young people on board to assist in her day to day operations and work as models for her designs. She hopes to create more employment for youths in her community as her business continues to grow.
“Everyone has a skill, we just need to use our passions to turn our dreams into reality,” she advises.
Stacey is using her brand to inspire and promote youth employment through entrepreneurship and talent. She hopes to create a platform that will promote the youth fashion movement by organising shows or events where other designers and artists can show off their fashion and artistic works and ideas.
“I believe such showcases will definitely inspire youths who have an interest in art and fashion to take action and turn their dreams into reality. I feel turning talent into a career is not something highly talked about so I wish to change that,” she says.
Miss Kamwi adds that as much as youths want to become degree holders, working with talent is more satisfying because one gets to do it with much love and passion. She wants Mo's Vogue to be the voice for uprising designers so that they will no longer shy away from their gifts but embrace their love for art and design.
Stacey further encourages African youths not to wait on government or foreigners running private companies to create employment for them. She urges youths to consider being entrepreneurial instead of always expecting to work for other people. She is optimistic that youth empowerment and entrepreneurship can help remedy the problem of unemployment in Zambia and the whole African continent.