STARTING a business as easy as it may seem is one thing, but sustaining it is another.
But then having a number of businesses in a growing economy like Zambia is the best way to go because businesses are the drivers of the economy of a country.
Undoubtedly, businesses employ people, provide income to the working population, buy resources, sell products, bring innovation, generate foreign capital and fulfil the daily necessities among many other advantages.
Businesses can be multinational, national, regional or domestic scale and employ people of all skill sets in full time or part time or contractual positions. This generates employment at all levels and have a spiral effect on other sectors across the country.
It is these businesses that are also able to generate indirect employment in terms of people engaged in raw material production which companies need and those involved in selling the products.
Large-scale businesses import and export raw materials, products and services thereby generate foreign exchange for the economy.
It is against this background, stakeholders recently held a workshop for the business community to train them on the Japanese business theory and principle-Kaizen.
Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continued improvement throughout all aspects of life.
The Livingstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Livingstone District Business Association (LDBA) in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) gathered in the tourist capital to equip businesses with knowledge on how they can continue improving.
When applied in a workplace, Kaizen activities can improve every function of a business, from manufacturing to marketing and at structural level, from the chief executive officer to the assembly-line workers.
Kaizen aims to eliminate waste in all systems of an organisation through the improvement of standardised activities and processes.
The continuous cycle of Kaizen activity has seven phases namely identify an opportunity, analyse the process, develop an optimal solution, implement the solution, study the results, standardise the solution and plan for the future.
The purpose of Kaizen goes beyond simple productivity improvement. When done correctly, the process harmonises the workplace, eliminates overly hard work and teaches people how to spot and eliminate waste in business processes.
Kaizen generates small improvements as a result of coordinated continuous efforts by all employees while Kaizen events bring together a group of process owners and managers to map out an existing process and identify improvements within the scope of participants.
In the Kaizen theory, everyone involved must begin thinking about their work in a new way, that is, in terms of present condition, desired state and also how to reach that state.
During the workshop, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) advisor for business administration who is also JICA volunteer Ikuo Horibe said the Kaizen method of doing businesses encourages entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs to be action-oriented.
“The problem with Zambians is that they always keep planning and don’t implement their plans,” he said
Mr Horibe encouraged businesses to implement the Kaizen method as it would improve the businesses.
And officially opening the workshop, Livingstone mayor Eugene Mapuwo called on the business community to emulate the Japanese way of doing business to improve economic activities in the tourist capital.
Mr Mapuwo said there is need for mind-set change if the business activities are to contribute to the economic growth of the country.
He said there is need to push Livingstone to higher heights and grow lucrative activities.
In as businesses strive to grow; there is need for entrepreneurs to also implement the three Ds of doing business, which are desire, determination and dedication.
“When we grow the businesses, it means we will be employers then we are going to grow the economy.
“One must desire to go into a business, must be determined in business and must also be dedicated,” Mr Mapuwo said.
Various participants drawn from various sectors appreciated the concept and promised to adopt the skills to improve their businesses.
One of the participants, Liwena Simbotwe, who runs a furniture company, thanked the organisers for the initiative saying that he had learnt a lot of new ideas that would help improve his business.
The importance of adopting modern market trends and the need to improve on products were highlighted as ways businesses should embrace.
Mr Simbotwe said things such that are taken for granted like cleanliness and order are the cardinal values to prevent diseases and accidents in work places.
Similarly, representing the business community, LCCI president Namakau Siyanga said JICA volunteers were requested to come back and assess the implementation of the Kaizen concept and teach those that didn’t attend the first workshop including those that wanted to undergo the training again.
The Kaizen workshop was a follow up one after the first one was held in August 2016.
These efforts and application of the Kaizen philosophy will certainly trigger a mind-set change and enhance businesses as Zambia aspires to industrialise, add value to products and create jobs.