ZAMBIAN entrepreneurs must use cooperatives as platforms through which they can positively contribute to the country’s development agenda, says Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry Director of Cooperatives Shadreck Mungalaba.

Last Friday, Mungalaba officiated at the official opening of the Vetpreneurs Multipurpose Cooperative Society (VMCS) Limited annual general meeting, a venture whose primary goal is capital preservation through investment in low-risk businesses.

“We need to remove the ‘agricultural veil’ from co-operatives as a country. These co-operatives must be used as business entities; they should not be formed for the purpose of receiving support from government. That ‘Boma Ilanganepo’ syndrome needs to be addressed and dealt with. Businesses need to be self-reliant and creative. This is the main reason why government even moved the Cooperatives Development Mandate from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. I want to say this also that my directorate will purposively use the cooperative model for employment creation, poverty reduction, wealth creation, stem rural-urban migration and address agricultural marketing,” Mungalaba said.

He also expressed excitement at the Cooperative’s ability to raise a reasonable amount of capital to support its activities at a time when the country’s economy was stressed.

“I encourage you all and your members not to rush into borrowing for investment, but rather, identify a problem or an opportunity, pool resources and address the issue. It is my hope that VMCS will be among successful cooperatives where members are happy, know what is going on and I am looking forward to being part of that journey. To members of this cooperative, do not to be excess baggage, but get actively involved in the building of this business entity because the success of this business empire depends on all the members and not only the Board of Directors, Secretariat and established committees in the absence of the AGM,” said Mungalaba.

Earlier at that same function, VMCS interim chairperson Dr Chisoni Mumba revealed that the cooperative had managed to raise capital of K1 million and that the money was ready for investment.

Dr Mumba, who is also an UNZA livestock senior lecturer, explained what a moderately conservative investment philosophy with low-risk appetite the VMCS venture had been designed with.

“VMCS’s primary goal is capital preservation through investment in low-risk business ventures until such a time when the business will be able to operate on its own with a full-time secretariat. This is a great achievement as it is not easy to bring 100 people together to achieve a common goal in our set-up where co-operatives have been primarily set-up to receive farming inputs from government. Director, Sir, I want to assure you that the membership of VMCS is quite diverse with people from different fields, both from the public and private sectors ranging from farmers, pastors, academicians, accountants, businessmen etc. VMCS is standing out from other cooperatives because of its unique governance system. In this regard, we have already developed a Board Charter, Investment Policy, Investment Plan, and Risk Management Plan for the venture, all in line with the by-laws established for this purpose,” said Dr Mumba, who also explained that one of the objectives of VMCS was to support government in the livestock value chain development for the betterment of the society and its members.