Absa Bank Zambia PLC in partnership with the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), Finnish government-funded Accelerated Growth for Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Zambia (AGS) Programme and Embassy of Finland in Zambia will support 52 local businesses on a trade mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this October. The trade mission is intended to promote the growth of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in Zambia by match-making local businesses with buyers in DRC to secure market access for Zambian products.
The Banks’ support of the trade mission follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in July 2021 between Absa Bank Zambia PLC and the ZDA to help local MSMEs with affordable financial services and business development support. Absa Bank Zambia PLC will be providing financial support worth K100,000 alongside other support services to the trade mission.
Speaking at a press briefing to announce the trade mission, Absa Bank Zambia PLC Managing Director, Mizinga Melu said, “As Absa Bank Zambia PLC, we are proud to support these linkages. We believe that the partnership between Absa and ZDA will continue to grow. This trip is very valuable because it finally allows local businesses to get on the ground and create the kind of business-to-business linkages that can take these businesses to the next level.”
“In a larger sense, this trade mission also represents a new phase of a longstanding trade relationship between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our two nations have traded with each other for decades, both in a formal and informal sense, and it makes me proud that Absa is able to support a new generation of entrepreneurs in continuing in this proud tradition,” Mrs. Melu added.
Speaking at the same event, ZDA Acting Director-General, Albert Halwampa expressed his gratitude to the collaborating partners as well as excitement about the Government’s renewed focus on promoting regional trade. “The Zambia Development Agency is excited about the enthusiasm shown by His Excellency the Republican President Mr. Hakainde Hichilema in prioritizing promotion of trade and investment in regional and international markets. For us as ZDA, we are walking the talk to make sure that we promote trade and investment within the regional markets, and particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Finnish Ambassador to Zambia, H.E Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury voiced her enthusiasm at the partnership saying, “In the context of this trade mission, we are really working with something that is at the heart of the new Zambian Government’s priorities. I am so excited to have Absa here because it seems since I started working in Zambia, I have always heard in the private sector context that access to finance is the issue. So it is important to have financial institutions as very important pieces in this puzzle.”Team Leader for Accelerated Growth for Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Zambia (AGS)
Programme in Zambia, Gareth Evans said at the event, “This is the right time to go back to Congo. The hunger from SMEs in Zambia is there and so we are very excited to be able to take our businesses to DR Congo.”
Sectors that will be targeted for the trade mission include agriculture, agribusiness and agro-processing, textiles and garments, building materials, mining supply services as well as engineering services and products among others.