By Derrick Silimina
First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has trained 450 micro, small and medium enterpreneurs with business skills in Solwezi District of North-Western Province.
Since 2010, Kansanshi Mining Plc, a subsidiary of FQM in conjunction with Fortune World Investment Limited (FWIL), has trained 3,500 entrepreneurs with business skills and practices.
FQM has spent more than US$100,000 per year in support of business training workshops and related field and mentorship visits that went with the programme.
Speaking when he officiated at the business development graduation gala of the MSMEs held at Solwezi’s Aaso lodge on Thursday, Kansanshi Mining Plc Commercial Manager Murray McDonald said the business development programme was very important to Kansanshi for the social development of Solwezi and the province as a whole.
“As Kansanshi, we recognize that we cannot benefit everybody directly as copper does not regenerate since it is a declining resource. As a company we employ just over 7000 employees and approximately 1,700 registered companies in our books.
“Hence there is no way near to be able to benefit everybody in the district individually, but we are committed to doing our CSR projects, and in particular the one we are celebrating today,” McDonald said.
“We would like to thank our business partners in this venture, the Fortune World and the North-West Chamber for the good work they continue to do in delivering this training to you and the small business community,” he said.
McDonald paid tribute to FWIL for being flexible and adaptable in their efforts to deliver the business workshops as they have delivered in both English and kiKaonde such that the workshops have evolved from the classrooms to radio-waves, Facebook, and YouTube in the face of Covid-19 outbreak.
Speaking at the same event FWIL Chairman Andrew Kafuta disclosed that the training programme was designed to achieve a number of objectives, which included: imparting knowledge and skills for enterprise development, facilitating employment creation, enhancing business sustainability beyond the life of the sponsoring mine, and beyond the lives of the business founders, and facilitate business formalization.
The North-Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NWCCI) was delighted to be associated with business development workshops which award certificate of attendance ceremony for micro, small and medium enterprises.
“As the North-Western Chamber Of Commerce and Industry—we are very grateful to Kansanshi Mining Plc for working with us to capacity build entrepreneurs who are in the micro, small and medium enterprise category.
“We are proud to be part of the initiators of the training programme which started in June 2010 when we identified the need to groom micro enterprises with business skills and practices through training programmes being sponsored by KMP through its CSR programme, as a way of raising formal businesses that would graduate into bigger and viable business entities in the future,” Chamber President Mukumbi Kafuta said.
Kafuta who is also FWIL Managing Director stated that his firm had keen interest in the development of businesses through knowledge impartation via training, not only because knowledge is power, but also because the small businesses contribute a larger share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We would like to urge other corporate institutions to emulate Kansanshi Mining Plc and join hands by building on the skills acquired. This can be done by setting up revolving funds to provide business loans or grants, input support programmes for farmers and specialized skills development programmes in agriculture, carpentry, metal fabrication and others to enhance capacities among micro entrepreneurs,” he said.
In a vote of thanks, one of the graduates, Alice Katambo expressed joy for graduating with a certificate and said the added knowledge would reinforce her skills to grow her business.
“The knowledge that I was given, I had to start my own business and that is a school; thanks to KMP and FWIL for improving people’s livelihoods in Solwezi District,” said Katambo, a teacher by profession.