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Coffin Making is a lucrative business but you never knew!!

The atmosphere in John Mutau's coffin-making workshop feels sombre.

Coffins ready for the market are lined up across the room, leaving little space for his workbench.

But even in this environment, the young coffin-maker still affords an infectious smile.

Based in the city of Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe, he is quick to say that coffin-makers are not as heartless as many people in the country think they are.

Instead, he says, with an air of importance in his voice: "We actually want to make decent burials affordable."

The 28-year-old is one of a number of young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs who in recent years have gone into coffin-making, after recognising that it remains a lucrative industry because of Zimbabwe's continuing high rate of Aids-related deaths.

While this may seem exploitative to some people, the new entrants say they are simply helping to meet a need, especially - they add - because their coffin prices are usually much cheaper than the country's established big funeral parlours.
Discarded wood

Despite Aids-related deaths having fallen by more than two thirds in Zimbabwe since 2001, as a result of education campaigns and the increased availability of free antiretroviral drugs, more than 60,000 people a year still die because of the virus, according to the country's National Aids Council.

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