garden boy’s rise to riches

Written by on January 28, 2019



“I MOVED from the village to come and work as a garden boy in Lusaka and I am not educated but it doesn’t matter. I have no intention of going to college,” says Lusaka businessman cum council driver, Petulo Fabian Shipapi.

Being deserted by his wife three years ago did not bother him. He says it merely encouraged him to invest his money wisely. Which he has done by starting two schools and employing people to help him run the schools.

He claims that his former wife used to discourage him from starting any project and he was therefore happy when she left because it meant that he could do what he wanted.

“God has blessed me with a brain and I decided long ago to use this even without any education, to find my way in life.

I believe that I have found that path to success and I know that many other youths can also benefit from my story,” Mr Shipapi says.

Uneducated people who have not completed their minimal educational qualifications do not have much chance of having a good, well-paid job unless they are very lucky.

For this reason they have to work in simple jobs or perform very hard labour work in construction or fields for highly qualified individuals.

However for 45 year old Lusaka city council driver Petulu Shipapi the story is different. Despite not stepping foot in college   he runs two private schools in Lusaka and Chongwe district employing qualified school teachers and other supporting staff.

He completed his grade 12 through evening classes last year and that is enough for him.

By saving K10 from his income as a garden boy and later K50 from his council job, Mr Shipapi saved enough to give him start up capital for his school project.

He never borrowed money. Saving little by little is what gave him a start in business.

He now has two schools. One is basic school with grades going up to Grade 9 while the Chongwe one starts from kindergarten to grade 5.

The two schools have employed 23 teachers and supporting staff and the owner now  plans to build a college.

The Lusaka Sun had a chat with Mr Shipapi and this is a verbatim of the discussion:

What are your full names?

My full names are Petulo Fabian Shipapi



I only have nine children but am single because my wife left me three years ago but am planning to remarry again.

Tells us about yourself

 I born on 23 October 1973 in Lukulu district in Katapula village of North western province. My father died in 1977 so I was kept in different homes making it difficult for me to finish my education. But in 1993 my brother came to our village in Dongwe area and picked me to go with him in town. He said lets go. So I came to Lusaka in 1993 and in 1994 I started working as a garden boy for a man called Mr George Sililo in Woodlands, Impala road house number three.

In ‘96 the man taught me how to keep money because he said if God gave me children my children shouldn’t pass through what I was passing through and I said this is good news.

 So I opened an account at Post Office. I get a salary I keep. In 1999 I withdrew, and the other money remained then I started selling different goods in a katemba.


I joined Lusaka city council in 2003 in February as a watchman. First I worked as a watch man.


I joined the council but my vision of keeping money never stopped so I was saving K 50 per month until I opened a bar in Kanyama compound. My bar was called Shimbumbu bar.

In 2005 I bought a plot in Kanyama, I started building a house but I continued keeping money.

In the same year I also bought a plot in Garden House where I started building the five by two classroom blocks and opened it 2012. I named it Dongwe Family School which means a river in the village where I come from. I appreciate Mr Sililo for he trained me how to keep money and how to live in society. I appreciate the man and I will never forget people who have been there for me in my suffering.

As I am talking, I have 15 orphans and am sponsoring five at Dongwe primary in Chongwe and ten here in Garden House.

I reward the community where I stay. The problem we have as youths, we wait for government to employ us but we are many. We can not all be employed, so my advice to those who are working is to know that one day the employer will chase you. What you have in your hands use it.


Many youths are into beer drinking and other bad vices, so I said since God has blessed me let me bring a school so that we have educated youths because education is a key to the future. Since I have not been to school I just build and others can run it.

My plan is to build a college so that youths go to drink beer and prostitution.

This is how this village boy moved from being a  garden boy to owning two schools and is now an employer.

He loves his current job of being a council driver which he executes diligently.

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