OUR motherland is endowed and rich in so many facets. It boasts of a variety of natural resources, be it natural or God-given minerals, favourable climatic conditions for good tourism and good agriculture.
More so, we have a good business environment which makes it easier for investments.
Equally important, we are known to be a beacon of peace world over – having managed a number of political transitions. This makes us a good role model for many within our region.
On top of this, we have a diverse and rich culture and our people are the biggest resource we have. All these make us proud of our country.
In all this, we have more in common that should and must unite us than what separates us.
I always love the oneness and national pride that as a country we exhibit when the men’s national soccer team, Chipolopolo, are in action. Across the whole length and breadth of the country, from Chililabombwe to Chirundu, Lundazi to Shangombo, we all are united by one sprit of supporting our own. This is something that I am urging my fellow countrymen and women to use in our daily being.
I remember vividly in 2012 when we won the Africa Cup of Nations, the whole country was on stand-still as we welcomed Christopher Katongo and his team-mates.
The lesson I derived is that nothing is too big to conquer if there is unity of purpose and common intent. In that case, it was how as a country we will be African champions.
I also see our oneness during national events like Independence Day celebrations. Again, the big lesson herein lies in that, in as much as we are a diverse country with so many tribes and living in different geographical areas, what unites us more is a collective unity of purpose.
As BuyZed, one of our critical areas of focus is on building national pride.
Pride in who we are, what we produce, what we consume, use at home, school and in our workplaces, during leisure times, our support and co-existence with each other. In short, ‘brand Zambia’.
What we advocate for is consumption and use of locally made goods and services. In simple terms, if say we buy fresh farm produce from Shinkura Farm in Lilayi, the chain is that farm workers get jobs and are paid. This translates into money in their pockets. We grow small-scale farmers and economy to an extent that if the local market is saturated, we can think of exporting and earning the country the much-needed foreign currency and increase contribution towards our fiscus.
The cycle benefits us as a country and the consensus and unity of purpose we should build is on supporting our own. If your friend and we all have an earning, you will realise that moving the country to a middle-income status, where we all have money in our pockets, is achievable and realistic.
What we need to work on as a people and country is to have a singular goal, that of making our country great. We can create our own opportunities if there is a shared common goal, which in this case is making a deliberate and conscious decision to support our own, be it product or service, making communities in areas with natural resources benefit materially, infrastructure-wise and socially from what we own and have as a country.
Many will ask, Where should we start and what role can we play? This is our country, what we call home, and it’s you and I who can advance its interests and help build it.
As BuyZed, we have taken a step. Let us all move in a singular direction that can help grow ourselves and the country at large. Our youths need meaningful and decent jobs, our farm workers as well and all this is easily supported if we promote and buy our own. This applies to both goods and services.
If we look specifically at the fresh farm produce sector, the country imports stuff worthy over US$40 million.
Simply translated, the money can help employ well over 200,000 people directly and indirectly. But as a country, we have such levels of unemployment and poverty. What we need is clear understanding that what unites and binds us is more than individual goals. Let’s embrace the pride we exhibit during national events and soccer matches to grow our nation and create a better livelihood for all in it.
All the sectors need our support from agriculture, manufacturing, retail, tourism and hospitality, service sector, transport and logistics, and construction.
This does not withstand competence and quality issues. The main point is in all cases, we need to focus on priorities and as BuyZed, we believe that perfection on competence and quality come with time. We are equally happy with one of our own in the cooking oil industry, Mt Meru. We can all see the potential and products in our leading retailers’ shelf space. That’s a plus and we can grow it in other areas. For Buyabamba Potatoes, there is an increased market presence and that comes with a number of ripple benefits such as more small-scale outgrowers.
Food Lovers’ Market have a love local campaign and it is there to enhance and grow our economy.
As Buyzed, we believe in stakeholder interaction and we have created platforms for people to chat on challenges and what could be done. Ours is creation of platforms, lobbying, advocating, facilitation and communication for the betterment of our country. And one thing which we believe is cardinal for us to be successful – unity of purpose is key.
We will be having a BuyZed cocktail day where we hope key stakeholders can meet and come up with one universal position.
It takes you and I to make our country great.
The author is an entrepreneur and founder of the BuyZed campaign.