FQM JOINS FORCES WITH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TO OVERCOME SME HURDLES
SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – First Quantum Minerals has teamed up with the North Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NWCCI) to break down the barriers to small and medium enterprise (SME) growth in the region. The partnership aims to equip budding micro entrepreneurs in North-Western Province with the knowledge of starting, growing and sustaining a successful business.
In June 2010, FQM launched Local Business Development Programmes aimed at removing obstacles to SME progress, while linking local businesses to economic opportunities in its subsidiary Kansanshi and Sentinel Mines, and beyond, including international market openings.
“In April 2017, we met with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, and a concern was raised by the mine (FQM) that the trainees that have gone through the business training were having difficulty formally registering their businesses due to difficulty in raising the registration fees,” said NWCCI president Josephine Makondo. She said the chamber attached great importance to business training because it was critical entrepreneurs enhanced their commercial skills so they contributed effectively to developing the economy.
The partnership includes a series of free courses for anyone to attend, run for five days a month, every month, timed to ensure that entrepreneurs do not spend too much time away from their business. The courses have already resulted in a number of successful business formations.
“First Quantum Minerals, through its subsidiary Kansanshi, has played a very important role in terms of training the business community in North-Western Province in Solwezi and Kalumbila areas. Kansanshi and Sentinel are our corporate clients and we have worked very well in terms of exposing the business community to training that will help them to enhance their businesses and also bring about growth in their ventures,” Ms Makondo added.
“At NWCCI, we would like to thank the prompt response from the government under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. They sent a team to come and assist with the registration of businesses. But it should not just be a one-off thing, because the training has continued and the mine has continued to support the business training because it is an on-going thing as the mine is looking at the future.”
Capacity-building of local entrepreneurs is key to the success of FQM’s local procurement drive. Kansanshi Mine provided 47 intensive five-day courses through its capacity-building programmes, which were attended by 1,236 people between 2010 and 2015.
Last year, FQM held one of its periodic business formalisation and training processes, during which 657 local businesspeople expressed interest in during the initial road-show. Out of these, 140 attended a business formalisation day with PACRA and, of the 140, 28 registered their businesses.
NWCCI vice president for industry and manufacturing Mukumbi Kafuta stressed that the mining firm had a very strong corporate social responsibility programme, which is specifically looking at local business development.
“The company wants to see to it that knowledge is imparted to these entrepreneurs so that they can be well-informed on how to go about running their businesses from scratch and formalising them, taking them to a level where they can begin to participate in the formal sector,” said Mr Kafuta.
“The mining firm realised that there are certain mistakes that were made in the previous mining towns, and that these errors should not be repeated in Solwezi. And the aim of these business workshops is that the entrepreneurs should be equipped with knowledge where there should be some form of posterity. So, when they formalise their businesses and they are able to apply business knowledge, they will be able to pass on those businesses from generation to generation, thereby living beyond their own lifespan and also the lifespan of the mine, because mining is a business that does not last forever, copper is a wasting assert,” he said.
FQM believes creating an empowering environment for local businesses requires collaborative ways of working, across functions within the mining firm, with its suppliers and contractors, with communities, with NWCCI and with government.
The firm is committed to regular communication and discussion with these stakeholders to advance efforts and share progress in promoting local business development.