Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, Emmanuel Mwamba says Zambia has a cadre of young and inventive entrepreneurs who are ready to take Zambia to great heights but lack capital, technical support and business mentorship.
Speaking when he addressed the first Zambia Virtual Youth Summit organized by the Anakazi Center for Women Empowerment and Development, Mr. Mwamba said Zambians are determined to create a country of their own dreams.
He called on all stakeholders to strengthen activities and policies that will promote home-grown entrepreneurs and involve young people at all levels.
He said Government alone could not manage to provide jobs to all its citizens but with a good entrepreneurial base in place, unemployment could be a thing of the past if youth entrepreneurship was aggressively promoted.
“No foreign country can develop our country. We have to develop it ourselves. Therefore, we must take an inclusive approach where we involve everyone, especially women and young people.”
He said both government and the private sector needed to invest in young people. He said there was a general recognition that few formal job opportunities existed and therefore, all stakeholders needed to give life skills to young people.
He said this way, the young people could employ themselves and employ others.
Mr. Mwamba also called for special attention to be given to girls’ education if national development was to be attained equitably.
“We need to pay special attention to the girls so that they are not left behind in the developmental agenda of Zambia. We need more young and innovative entrepreneurial ladies who are going to help transform Zambia,” he said.
He also called on the government and the private sector to involve young people in decision-making.
“We cannot decide for what young people want. We need to understand that they can help make the decisions. We need to bring them to all the tables, whether it’s at government level, at company level and whatever group level in everything that we do.”
The inaugural Youth Virtual Summit also held a special event called; “The Eagle’s Nest Summit”. This was a pitch event by young people to table their business ideas.
The Eagle’s Nest with a theme: “Where Ideas Are Born to Soar”, gave empowerment and opportunity to the youth of Zambia to think beyond their current limitations and convert their complaints and frustrations into a competitive advantage in business.
Three teams made up of youth from all over Zambian were invited to come together, discuss the challenges they saw in their local communities and create viable business-based solutions to their real-world problems.
They were then invited to pitch their ideas to a judging panel of four industry experts from around the world.
The budding entrepreneurs were given ten minutes to pitch their ideas to industry experts in the hope of being selected as the winning team that would walk away with the prize that would fund their business venture.
The pitches from the nest came from; Team Agriculture, who planned to take a food subsides where 60% of harvested crops are wasted due to its perishable nature and convert it into “Reel Paste” a processing company that converts overripe tomatoes into different flavored tomato purées and pastes.
Team Education and Health fired back with a pitch that focused on mental health not money, although funding is invaluable, they rooted their pitch in healing and supporting the emotional scars that Zambians living with mental health issues and disabilities suffer from and can get stigmatized by. Their pitch focused on developing an online app offering premium support services tailored to physical, psychological, and physiotherapeutic needs.
Mr. Mwamba announced that the winning prize was scooped up by Team Climate Change, their business, known as “Plastic Belt” would be the ultimate pitch that judges felt had potential because; “it offered more than one revenue stream due of the nature of its distribution channel” said judge Constance Moonzwe from the USA.
Their pitch outlined how they would collect and convert plastic waste from Zambia’s municipalities and convert it into building blocks. These unique blocks lock together when stacked and can be used to build homes.