ATLAS Mara, a firm that owns Banc ABC in Zambia has accessed US$65 million funding for youth, women and agriculture empowerment programmes in the country.
Atlas Mara chief executive officer John Vitalo said yesterday that the company received $65 million funding from the American government to invest in Zambia.
The funds were accessed when US president Barak Obama visited Kenya.
Mr Vitalo said this when he and the co-founders of Atlas Mara, Bob Diamond and Ashish Thakkar met President Edgar Lungu at State House yesterday.
“One of the reasons we are excited about this is that the money that the US government gave us was specifically earmarked for Zambia and we will use it to create wealth here,” Mr Vitalo said.
He said Atlas Mara was committed to becoming a bigger contributor to the country’s economy by lending individuals, small medium enterprises and large financial institutions.
Mr Diamond said the company was pleased with its investment in Zambia and would use it as an opportunity to help Government create jobs and economic growth.
He said Banc ABC was happy that President Lungu was particularly interested in developing the agriculture sector.
The financial institution was already working with farmers by lending them money.
Mr Thakkar said Atlas Mara shared President Lungu’s passion to provide empowerment to the agriculture sector and the youths.
President Lungu said the $65 million was a huge amount of money that would make a difference in youth empowerment.
He said the coming in of Atlas Mara was timely and it came at a time
that Government was in the process of implementing the National Youth
The President said Government was willing to hear Atlas Mara’s ideas of wealth creation and that Government would find them a worthy partner.
“As a PF Government, we want to leave a legacy of creating wealth for the women and the youths. With your coming, our vision will be realised faster than I thought,” Mr Lungu said.
Meanwhile, Mr Thakkar said the company wanted to start a mentorship programme for the youth to help them create wealth.
He said Atlas Mara wanted to work with President Lungu to launch a mentorship programme that involved giving youths and women free mobile phones and provide financial guidance.
“With your help, Mr President, we want to launch this initiative in Zambia to help women and youths,” Mr Thakkar said.
Mr Lungu said he would ensure that Atlas Mara worked with the Minister of Youth and Sport, Vincent Mwale to start up the initiative.