ZACCI has called on the private sector to refrain from complaining about Zambia’s ongoing economic challenges and take advantage of the available financing facilities through various institutions.

In an interview, ZACCI president Dr Chabuka Kawesha urged SMEs to accelerate high-level interactions with various financial institutions and increase their level of consultation with the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to access all the available funding to strengthen their cash flows and revitalise operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Firstly, I would like to note that commercial banks and the central bank have created a lot of leads and the similar facility is now flowing into the market. We are, therefore, encouraging the SMEs and industry to go to their respective financial institutions and negotiate. Negotiate on the terms that the bank is able to give you so that you are able to sustain and improve on your business operations. So, it is important that the SMEs, themselves, begin to have that high-level interaction with their respective financial institutions. It’s also imperative that the SMEs increase their level of consultation with the ZDA to see the initiatives that are there with the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) because there are all these vehicles that are private sector and government, particularly through the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Planning, have been discussed. So, it is important that, as industry, we take ourselves out there, we make ourselves known, our businesses known so that we can access the stimulus facility,” Dr Kawesha said.

“Government has got multiple options of raising capital and once those options are being explored, each option has pros and cons and the private sector is encouraged not to complain on a constant basis, it doesn’t help. Complaining in any scenario on a regular basis or all the time, it doesn’t help. The best is to participate. There are those from the private sector who also want to participate. There are those who’ve got other initiatives. So, as entrepreneurs, as innovators, I am happy that Zambia and Zambians have got that entrepreneurial spirit. Look at those who are in the informal sector. So, as the public sector is utilising multiple angles to raise capital, some of it is to an advantage, we see they want to pay out outstanding contractors, they want to pay out outstanding pensioners and many other outstanding elements so that money is coming to industry. So, it is important and imperative that we begin to look at both sides of the coin when government is borrowing or giving out the funding.”

He called for innovation to accelerate industrialisation of Zambia’s economy.

“We’ve always had the capacity, building industry is personal, it’s me and you and it all starts with an idea. So, it is important that we are innovative as a citizenry, we build business proposals that are captivating and very interesting and let’s encourage ourselves to develop these initiatives as groups, see how the concept of cooperatives works effectively. Similarly, in the corporate structures, it is important that we begin to team up as individuals to undertake mega projects and see how best we can capacitate and build ourselves as Zambians. So, the wind of industrialisation is open, we have the necessary policies in place. Now, government is promoting local content, we are talking of import substitutions where, basically, government is now promoting the presence of local products on the shelves in the retail value chain and elsewhere. So, let’s take advantage of that as Zambians, it won’t take us anywhere to complain, but to make our presence and initiatives felt and be seen in the market,” urged Dr Kawesha.

Government has rolled out an unprecedented K8 billion COVID-19 stimulus package to help inject much-needed liquidity into the local economy, while the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has equally commenced disbursement of its K10 billion Medium-Term Refinancing Facility through various commercial banks to deserving businesses that need bridging finance to stay afloat amid the pandemic.