It’s time to remember that “sharing is caring”. This speaks true of businessman Joel Mwatilefu, the founder of Joe’s Barbershop, who visits schools in the north to provide free haircuts to underprivileged learners.
The services are only available to learners who have been identified by their school principals or learners’ representative councils.
Mwatilefu said the pandemic has had a negative impact on parents, particularly when it comes to paying for learners’ school fees, food, and nowadays buying masks, sanitisers and other things for learners to take care of themselves. Money for haircuts can be difficult for parents who are struggling to generate an income.
“The pandemic has affected everyone, left, right, and centre, and just imagine what it’s like for parents who can’t afford to meet all of their children’s needs. This may appear to be a minor issue, but we must all work together to solve it,” he said.
Mwatilefu stated that when his team gives haircuts, they also motivate learners to never look back once they finish their studies.
“Even though we can’t satisfy them, we are encouraging them to start their own business and do anything good that will help them move forward, rather than relying solely on their parents. Our goal is to make people feel differently about themselves in their hearts.”
He already planned to do this last year, but postponed it when Covid-19 hit hard. They have thus far visited Gabriel Taapopi Secondary School, Ekwafo Secondary Schools and others.
Mwatilefu said he would like to attend more schools, but the challenge is that pupils are about to sit for their exams.
Mwatilefu and his team started the barbershop business five years ago, and he believes it is now time to give back to the community.
“We also give training on cutting hair and anything about hair care.”
He began barbershop work while attending electrical engineering classes at the Valombola Vocational Training Centre, because no one was helping him pay his tuition fees, rent or buy food.
Currently, he runs his own business, JJJJ Investment, which won the best customer service award at the 2018 International University of Management Ongwediva cultural festival.