Columnists

Zambia should grow its entrepreneurial base

BENEDICT Tembo.

Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
ZAMBIA evidently needs to up its entrepreneurial base, which is comparably lower than its neighbours.

“An entrepreneurial base relates to available skills in appropriate sectors from which ventures are born. Zimbabwe and Uganda currently have the most elaborate skills in craftsmanship or artisanship, which anchor entrepreneurial development,” economist Chibamba Kanyama says.
Skills range from carpentry to fish farming. Mr Kanyama says Uganda and Zimbabwe have hundreds of thousands of school leavers well mentored and trained in various skills such that upon graduation, they are ready to venture into business.
“You will find in such countries, the uptake in financing opportunities is nearly 100 percent. In South Africa, the Ministry of Commerce has, in conjunction with large multinationals, created another important middleman in the development of local entrepreneurs: the match-maker.
“The match-makers play a very crucial role in helping entrepreneurs determine the most appropriate financing vehicle for a given kind of business, finding an off-taker (the buyer of the product) and also determining quality assurance,” Mr Kanyama says.
He says when a country has an environment that offers a comprehensive supportive structure for entrepreneurs, loan uptake is very high.
“Remember, entrepreneurship is about ideas and total mastery of the enterprise. Ask an average Zambian what business they want to do, they have no idea because we are all focused on trading; that is what we have been exposed to. Entrepreneurship is based on the skills of the entrepreneur and the narrower the skills, the more skewed the borrowing capabilities,” Mr Kanyama says.
To this end, Nigerian philanthropist Tony Elumelu’s foundation has opened a two-month window for applications from entrepreneurs and individuals with saleable business ideas.
The application process started on January 2 and ends on March 1, for the seed capital in which successful individuals and entrepreneurs receive seed capital of US$5,000, have access to 12 weeks of online training, which guides on creating and managing a business, and mentoring by a world-class mentor to guide during the business transformation stages.
While the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) funds US$5,000 in seed capital to prove the concept, there are opportunities of access to further funding and getting linked to the largest network of African start-ups and TEF’s global contacts.
The programme is TEF’s 10-year, US$100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs by 2024.
This is accompanied by opportunities such as 12-week online training on managing businesses and an array of networking prospects.
Established in 2015 by Tony Elumelu, TEF is now in its fourth edition and has supported 45 Zambian entrepreneurs. They are among the 3,000 entrepreneurs across Africa since the programme, which has committed US$100 million to spawning Afriprenuers.
Mr Elumelu is founder and chairperson of one of the continent’s soaring banks, the United Bank for Africa, and Heirs Holdings, which the TEF is run.
However, Mr Kanyama says as much as many are actually applying for these funds, they get rejected for lack of innovative ideas anchored on knowledge, exposure and skill.
“TEF is therefore pleased to announce that the 2018 search for 1,000 of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs has begun and is now accepting applications for the fourth cycle of our ground-breaking Pan-African entrepreneurship Programme,” the announcement from TEF in Lagos says.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.

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