FQM PROGRAMME HELPS BURGEONING BUSINESSMAN STRIKE GOLD
A beneficiary of FQM’s local business development programme through Kalumbila’s Trident Foundation, Mr Sondoyi who is a father-of-11, has in five years moved from being a small shop owner, to owning Chrisferry Contractors and General Suppliers, a company that has so far employed more than 100 locals, and is one of the mining firm’s major contractors.
Mr Sondoyi said that entrepreneurship in rural areas has the potential to improve the unemployment rate by delivering new job opportunities through newly established enterprises.
“I thought that the area where I was relocated to by the mine was not good enough to set up a business due to the high unemployment. But after re-evaluating the business environment, I decided to set up my own company, and this was made possible when the Trident Foundation announced that they wanted to develop local businesses through business development workshops that were aimed at helping the local people register their businesses with the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA); but by then I had already registered my business,” he said.
“I was one of the first people who were part of the workshop that was organised through the Musele Chamber of Commerce. It was through the workshop that I got my first tender with the Trident Foundation, to provide landscaping services for six months. And then from there other departments at the mine heard about the work I was doing, which led to requests from Kalumbila town residents to do landscaping for them,” Mr Sondoyi added.
To streamline the local procurement process, FQM has partnered with the North-Western Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Musele Chamber of Commerce, whose members are provided with details of forthcoming contracts. Between 2010 and 2015, Kansanshi circulated more than 4,000 purchase enquiries, forward purchase agreements (FPAs), and service/construction enquiries through the North-Western Chamber of Commerce.
“I started off with 30 employees. I have come to realise that being a contractor and working with Kalumbila mine is much better than doing the business that I was running. The business that the mine has given me has helped transform my life, because out of what I am doing, I’m able to provide for my 11 children as well as send them to school. I have also been able to build a three-bedroomed house for myself. When I started, I used to ride a motorbike, but I am on my way to buying a car for myself. I have so far employed 105 people from around Kalumbila,” he said.
Mr Sondoyi further said that with continued close collaboration with the mining firm, he plans to open up a guest house, as well as expand his business to other parts of the province.
Capacity-building of local entrepreneurs is key to the success of the local procurement drive.
The Trident Foundation runs a Local Business Development Programme to help remove barriers to small and medium enterprise growth, and link local businesses to economic opportunities in the Sentinel Mine, Kalumbila Town and beyond, including international market linkages.
In 2017, the Trident Foundation formalised and trained 83 local businesses from Musele Chiefdom. The candidates were selected by a village-level roadshow with Musele Chamber of Commerce, offering business formalisation, training and selected micro-loans to local entrepreneurs. Interested businesspeople were required to show commitment by registering their business with PACRA before being eligible for training and micro-loans.
Local business development and procurement have long been a priority at FQM, and are in clear focus on the mining firm’s development agenda. There is a lot of potential for Zambian businesses, but to maximise the opportunities requires concerted effort from all sectors.
First Quantum Minerals’ belief in providing shorter-term macroeconomic and fiscal policies that support employment creation, establishing entrepreneurship at the heart of the education system is a key long-term initiative that will help provide an atmosphere where the vision of the people affected by its mining operations to make an impact and start their own enterprises can be realised.