The National, Tuesday October 29th, 2013
By PETER ESOP WARI
STEVEN Kopiap stands out at the Mendi Market every time he is there.
That is because Kopiap, 36, from Onja village, in the Lower Mendi local level government of Southern Highlands, is the only man sewing clothes in the market.
Kopiap, who has never had formal education, said he was at the market on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to patch clothes, sew dresses and anything that needed sewing.
“I have a wife and a daughter about two-years-old and decided to start the sewing business to sustain my livelihood instead of doing nothing in the village,” he said.
“Many men see this as a woman’s job or career but once I started to sew, I became a favourite for many people at the main market.”
He said he earned K80–K90 a day and his busiest day was every second Friday.
He said he had three sewing machines and could repair them, one reason why people go to him when they needed to service their machines. “I had never been to a sewing school to gain the skills … I have watched people doing the job and acquired the skills through a lot of practice,” he said.
Kopiap said many youths and men his age felt shy to be involved in such activities because they thought sewing was a woman’s job.
“It is not a woman’s job … we need to involve ourselves in small business activities,” he said.
“At first I struggled and never made enough money as I was new to the customers but after two–three weeks, people came rushing to me to do their sewing. People like the way I sew.”
Kopiap challenged men doing nothing and those involved in illegal activities to take up small business opportunities. “Once you are recognised for the quality of your work, that’s when you will feel important. God created us for a purpose and we must try to do something and not live an aimless life,” he said.