Editor's Comment

Actualise sustainable economic empowerment

MINISTRY of Livestock and Fisheries officers, Africa Muzunga (left) and Jones Zulu, displaying Imbowa (giraffe catfish) and tubombola (chrystithis mabusi) species of fish found in Lake Mweru in Luapula Province at the ongoing 92nd Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka yesterday. PICTURE: BRIAN MALAMA

BUSINESS entities have been given an invaluable tip on how to grow their operations.This is particularly so for those that are exhibiting at the 92nd Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show, which opened on Wednesday.
The tip is embedded in the show’s theme: ‘Sustainable Economic Empowerment’.
The country’s premier annual business event is a platform which provides for business-to-business exchange in agriculture, agribusiness, trade information and commerce as well as emerging farming technologies, product innovation and value addition.
The theme may be interpreted differently by the various exhibitors and non-exhibitors alike, but the bottom line is that empowerment is key to sustainable operations.
The 1,123 companies exhibiting at the show, and others not present, would do well to keep this in mind.
The businesses should interrogate their activities and determine how they are contributing to the sustainable economic empowerment of their organisations, human resource, and communities they operate in.
For any business to grow and secure its continued success, there is need to not only empower people but also do this in a sustainable way.
Today, global wealth is concentrated less and less in factories, land, tools and machinery but, more than ever before, in the knowledge, skills, and resourcefulness of people which are increasingly critical to the world economy.
Globally, human capital is estimated to be the most critical factor of production compared to a century ago.
This is because the world, including Zambia, is anchored on the knowledge economy – a system of consumption and production based on intellectual capital.
Given these new trends, it is important for businesses to empower human resource in a way that ensures sustainability for their operations.
This, therefore, calls for businesses to invest more in training and developing skills of employees to ensure that they become relevant not only to today’s needs but the future as well.
There is also need for businesses to empower employees through loan facilities at low interest rates to allow them to invest in various ventures. This certainly ensures financial sustainability of employees beyond their formal employment.
In Zambia, like many African countries, economic empowerment of citizens is always associated with Government. There is, however, a need for a paradigm shift from this notion.
The private sector, as key partners in development, need to come on board more particularly to empower communities they operate from.
While we have some good corporate citizens who may from time to time empower their communities, there is need to ensure sustainability of these initiatives.
Corporates should go beyond meeting today’s needs to provide skills and capital for projects in communities. This is one of the best ways of sustaining economic benefits that accrue.
To ensure sustainable economic empowerment for communities, businesses should also create more decent jobs which provide social security.
Besides those exhibiting at the show, this year’s theme should appeal to the consciences of all Zambian citizens on how to individually and collectively ensure sustainability of economic empowerment projects initiated by Government and other stakeholders.
Government has for instance come up with initiatives such as the youth empowerment fund, marketeers fund and Farmer Input Support Programme.
The youth and marketeers’ funds are meant to be sustainable through repayment of loans by beneficiaries.
Sadly, many beneficiaries default thereby denying other people the opportunity to access the same funds.
Such are attitudes that have made some of the economic empowerment initiatives unsustainable.
There is therefore need for mindset change among citizens to ensure that economic empowerment initiatives introduced bear the desired results, including sustainability.
Those exhibiting at this year’s show, whether agricultural or commercial, should live up to this year’s theme beyond the six-day event.
Companies should continue to uphold the theme by ensuring that all economic empowerment initiatives embarked on have a long lasting impact.

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