“I used to work at a stationery shop in Harare but as the cost of living rose beyond my earnings, I left my job and relocated here in 1995,” Matabvu said.
“I asked a friend from Harare to help me set up a carpentry business, as he had the skills and I did not.”
The 52-year-old father of five added: “He trained me for some months and when he left, I recruited a few boys to assist me and that is how I started training others.”
Matabvu trains at least five youths every year, although some of them stay longer due to lack of employment opportunities. Some of his trainees, he said, have started their own businesses where they are also extending the skills to others.
“He is Domboshava’s carpentry teacher,” 46-year-old Thomas Mukusha said. “The only teacher who pays his students for attending his lessons, he pays us at the end of every month.”
Mukusha said most of the carpenters who operate carpentry business at Showground Shopping Centre were Matabvu’s former students.
Matabvu owns a small workshop in the business centre where he makes bed bases, wardrobes, coffins and other pieces of furniture.
A base for a double bed costs US$30.
“The base beds are the ones which sell most but the returns remain low because we sell one base bed for US$65,” he said. “We make about US$2 000 in a good month but that translates to nothing much, considering we have to share it among ourselves.”
Matabvu said he frequently travelled to Harare where he buys carpentry material. Matabvu has already applied for land from the local authority as he plans to move to a bigger place.