Business linkages forum yields results

RECENTLY, a number of business prospects came to light after the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) held a Business Linkages Forum on the sidelines of the Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) that ran from June 29-July 5, 2016 in Ndola, Copperbelt.
The business forum, which was attended by over 300 delegates, assembled participants from Government, government agencies, large enterprises, financial institutions and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) drawn from the Copperbelt Province.
The main objective of the forum was to facilitate the creation and deepening of business linkages between large enterprises and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), in order to stimulate the development of both sustainable and competitiveness of local enterprises and optimising efficiency of large enterprises.
As a result of this platform, one memorandum of understanding (MoU) has already been signed while two more are yet to be signed and contracts have been sealed.
Firstly, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and the Copperbelt Leather Cluster signed an MoU to facilitate the establishment of a cottage industry in the leather sector in that province.
Over 200 MSMEs are expected to benefit as a result of this MoU.
The beneficiaries of this initiative will be the existing shoe cobblers, shoe -makers, youth and women with interest to acquire skills of tanning leather and manufacturing leather products including shoes.
Furthermore, Wilundo Enterprises, based in Chingola, signed a contract to supply mill balls valued at K200 million with KCM. Wilundo Enterprises managed to get a strategic partner and has so far secured an initial K250,000 working capital and has since started production.
In addition, ZDA is set to sign an MoU to develop a comprehensive strategic intervention to enhance the capacity of smallholder dairy farmers on the Copperbelt.
Under the partnership, ZDA is expected to conduct a capacity needs assessment and develop a plan to train farmers, facilitate linkages for finance and raw material inputs for the smallholder dairy farmers in the province.
Currently, Parmalat Zambia buys milk from over 3,000 smallholder dairy farmers clustered in six co-operatives across the Copperbelt Province. It has facilitated the establishment of bulking centres where it collects the milk using its own transport.
The company supports farmers to acquire equipment and feed suppliers as well as facilitate various training programmes for farmers at the bulking centres.
Parmalat also facilitates loan facilities in form of equipment (stainless steel containers and bicycles) and feed and has put an arrangement in place where it recovers the loans at source when paying the farmers.
However, there has been an observation that the quality of milk is poor due to weak storage infrastructure as well as limited farm and business management skills by the smallholder dairy farmers.
Therefore, it is envisaged that the MoU with ZDA to train the smallholder farmers will promote capacity building.
The other MoU involves Zelo Foods, a food processing company, and Shoprite focused on the milling and packaging of groundnuts and fruit juices. The company engaged Shoprite to explore supplying the chain store.
To date, a series of meetings have been held between the two parties which have culminated into a contract that is yet to be signed at a ceremony to be graced by the minister for Youth and Sports or the minister of Commerce,Trade and Industry.
Zelo Foods is a Kitwe-based enterprise registered with the ZDA and has been supplying Pick’ n Pay and exporting products to the Democratic Republic of Congo with the help of the agency.
Additionally, Pine Innovation, a firm based in Luanshya which manufactures shoe cleaning detergent bearing the brand name Yamaka, has also engaged Shoprite for the possibility to start supplying the chain store with its product.
However, in order for the linkage to succeed, the enterprise was guided by Shoprite to secure a recommendation letter from the ZDA Enterprise Development Division.
The success of the business linkages forum cannot be over-emphasised as over 100 members of the Ndola District Business Association, an affiliate of the Zambia Chamber of Small and Medium Business Associations (ZCSMBA) Ndola, expressed interest to register with the ZDA.
As a result of the high demand and numerous successes scored during this interaction, officials from ZDA are set to get back to the Copperbelt to follow up on some of the pending business prospects and conduct business clinics for the MSMEs.
Furthermore, the same strategy will be replicated in all the other remaining provinces of the country so that many other MSMEs can benefit.
The forum will be replicated in the remaining provinces in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, and United Nations Development Programme.
For more information
Contact the manager communications and public relations
ZPA House, Nasser Road
P O Box 3081, Lusaka
Telephone 0211 229240

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