The Presidential Empowerment Initiative Fund (PEIF) has disbursed more than K10 million to over 7,000 traders and vendors since its inception in 2015.
PEIF Patron Chanda Kabwe said the money which is part of the President Edgar Lungu’s contribution to vulnerable marketeers across the country has been in form of loans.
Mr Kabwe said during Patriotic Front (PF) media interactive forum in Kabwe yesterday that the Fund was targeting to reach 17,000 beneficiaries by 2020.
He said contrary to claims by some disgruntled politicians, the initiative had changed many lives of people who were giving testimonies on how they had developed after receiving the loans.
President Edgar Lungu continues to contribute up to 10 percent of his monthly salary towards the empowerment initiative while other contributions come from well wishers.
“There are great stories out there because we have changed the lives of many people that have benefited from the funds and these are stories that can be confirmed by the beneficiaries.
“You should also realise that we have never used a single ngwee from the Government, this is a generosity from the President in response to the sufferings of the marketeers and vendors,” he said.
Apart from the monetary benefit, the presidential initiative had also offered material as well as constructed market infrastructure to improve the operations of traders and vendors.
He said more than 800 traders at Kitwe’s Chisokone Market had benefited from the funds while K300,000 had been spent on the construction of an ablution block for marketeers at Fisenge in Luanshya.
Mr Kabwe, who is also Central Province Permanent Secretary, said the Fund would on Tuesday launch the first disbursement in Southern Province where K200,000 is expected to be given out in Mazabuka.
He also revealed that the Fund structures that determined how the money would be disbursed while its books were audited regularly to ensure that there was no abuse.
Mr Kabwe however, admitted that the loan recovery rate was low because many people were not paying back after receiving the funds.
“But we know that this is because there are some people that have been going in markets telling the traders that they should not pay back.
“So have engaged some experts including the banks to train marketeers before receiving the funds so that they are able to pay back.
During the Interactive Forum, Mr Kabwe also disbursed K500 to each of the nine Kabwe traders who are selling various merchandise.