27th May, 2016 was a momentous day for the Zambia Business in Development Facility (ZBiDF) Team as they facilitated the signing of yet another Memorandum of Understanding amongst three key business associations in Solwezi of North Western Province, Zambia.
The North Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NWCCI), Musele Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and Lumwana Community Business Association (LCBA) all with membership of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) from around the province were the signatories to this MoU, it is also worth noting that MSMEs in the province are organized in such a manner where mobilisation is largely centred around the three associations i.e. NWCCI, MCCI and LCBA. It is through these associations that the small and medium enterprises are able to access business opportunities from the mines, and indeed from the government advertised tenders.
Through the facilitation and brokering of ZBiDF’s Extractives Broker Ms. Sylvia Mutale with support from the entire ZBiDF team, three associations decided to stop working in silos by committing to work together in order to find solutions to the common challenges being faced which include:
- Weak Advocacy and Lobbying
- Inadequate Communication
- Limited access to finance
- Low skills / competencies / capabilities
- Access to Jobs
- Weak Institutions
The associations had come to the realization that more could be achieved by coming together and working to solve the challenges that cut across the three associations rather than fighting individual battles.
The mission of the MoU dubbed North Western Extractives Industry Local Contractors Partnership is to ‘systematically build a collective platform that advocates and lobby’s for transparent business opportunities and ensures growth of the local business community’.
It is envisaged that through this collaborative approach, the MSMEs of North Western Province will have access to mine and government tenders and hence supply to the mines.
The ZBiDF has facilitated this partnership from its inception in early 2015 till the actual signing on 27th May, 2016 after so much time and effort with some unforeseen hurdles along the way. The event was graced by the Solwezi District Commissioner (DC), Council of Elders and various Media Houses.
In her speech, the DC challenged the associations to begin working and show the fruits of their collaboration by fostering development and thereby reducing poverty in the province. She also indicated that government was in full support of initiatives that would alleviate the lives of the people such as the MoU which the three associations had entered into.
Meanwhile, in her Vote of Thanks, NWCCI President said ZBiDF played a cardinal role in actualizing the signing of the partnership adding that MoU also presented the ZBiDF with more work with regards to managing and maintaining the partnership. She indicated that the chamber had realized that they could not do everything alone hence the MoU which was meant to leverage of each other’s networks, resources and skills/capabilities.