Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury says her country will support the new Zambian government’s initiative to strengthen small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) in an effort to steer up economic development.
Ms. Suomela-Chowdhury said the Zambian government’s policy on promoting the SMEs through the creation of the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises is in tandem with the Accelerated Growth for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (AGS), a project being funded by the Finnish government.
Speaking in Kitwe yesterday during an AGS workshop where several entrepreneurs are being trained in various business skills, Ms. Suomela-Chowdhury said her government has set aside 9 million Euros for capacity building among entrepreneurs in mining.
She said the funds will enable the entrepreneurs in mining to engage in significant businesses with the mines as suppliers or contractors.
”We are doing this because we believed that a vibrant private sector is essential for sustainable economic development that in the end supports the people,” she stated.
She added that the AGS programme is aimed at supporting the Zambian SMEs and enhancing business partnership between Finland and Zambia.
And Kitwe Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry president Anthony Kabaghe said the project will help entrepreneurs get business skills, business linkages locally and regionally in addition to forming a partnership with Finnish businesses.
Mr. Kabaghe noted that Zambian entrepreneurs in the mining sector have been failing to conduct significant business with the mining companies due to financial and logistics challenges.
He however said these challenges will be addressed by the Finnish government initiated programme.
He noted that there is need for government to now create an enabling environment that will promote investment in the mining sector and cause local SMEs to do business with the mines.
And speaking in an interview with ZANIS on the sidelines of the workshop, Sampa Tanga from Wonder Fields Zambia Ltd, thanked the Finnish government for the initiative saying it will greatly help link the Zambian entrepreneurs with other businesses in Finland and the Southern Africa region.
Ms. Tanga added that the programme will also expose the Zambian entrepreneurs to potential markets.