Although it is often said that it is lonely at the top, Aurélio Selemane (29 years old) is determined to push others up as he prospers. We met him in Nampula, Mozambique and sought to find out what drives him to help his peers.
Aurélio was a participant of the SNV Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) project in Mozambique. In 2015, he and other youth attended a ten-day agri-business training on topics ranging from business management, leadership and customer care to agricultural production techniques and market development.
“I am a fortunate man because I have the ability to run different businesses, but before the OYE training I was working with little knowledge about business planning”.
Aurelio has acquired business acumen by observing other people. After the OYE training, he began applying the new skills to expand his enterprise. He has a small shop and offers mechanical repairing, welding, transportation and farming services.
“After attending the training I made a business investment plan with the ambition to increase my income. I invested in locksmith equipment and acquired four motorbikes: two are used as taxis, one for emergencies to help my customers in case of motorbike breakdown and one for myself and my family”.
He is training five apprentices for two years and has a total of seven workers. At the end of the apprenticeship each trainee will be paid 100 USD and will be ready to have their own workshops. Aurelio also hired two motorbike taxi drivers to transport people from the main road to the village.
“If you ask me whether 100 USD in two years is a loss to me, actually I will say no, because during this time they are learning and making money for the company. This is how I learned to fix motorbikes. I am also investing in agriculture and currently I have 6 hectares of maize, sesame, beans and cotton. All my crops are growing well and I hope to harvest 6 tons of maize, sesame, cotton and beans and make an income of 4,000 USD. From my shop, motorbike workshop, locksmith and taxi services I make around 700 USD per month.”
Since he attended the OYE training, Aurélio has also got to own a bank account. “Now I can also save money to invest in the future.”
After the rainy season, he plans to build a 10-ton capacity warehouse where he will store dry cassava, maize and beans that he will be buying to resell to exporters and other interested buyers. He will also use the warehouse as a store to sell food and motorbike parts. Currently he is using a tent as a shop. “The OYE training gave impetus to my business and the results of my investment are beginning to show. I already have the money to build a warehouse. I also bought my father a house closer to mine so that I can easily help him when needed."
Aurélio also leads a group of youth who have been trained by the OYE project. He mentors them to set up viable businesses by sharing his experience and motivating them. He intends to go back to study next year in order to finish secondary school (he dropped out of school in 2005 when he was in the ninth grade). “After those then days of training I realised that I need to study more. I will study at night because during the day I have to take care of my business.”
To continue building his business, Aurélio admits that he will need financial support and is considering enlisting the support of the OYE project to gain access to a business expansion loan.
Due to the business plan developed with OYE advisors' help, Aurélio got a grant worth 2000 USD from FAIJ (Funding for Youth Initiatives from the Provincial Directorate), but he only received the first advance of 200 USD to buy and sell crops during the recent commercialisation season.
“I want to keep my business running to ensure that my kids have a good future. Since I didn’t succeed in my studies, I want to make sure my children will have a good education.” Aurélio is married and has four children. He also supports his brother's business and provides school materials and uniforms for his nephews.
Aurelio is definitely a shining star in the community of Itoculo. The OYE programme triggered his capacity to identify profitable business ideas and his entrepreneurial ambition is now limitless.