MINISTER of Small and Medium Enterprises Elias Mubanga says the challenge his ministry is facing is that most of those seeking empowerment want to immediately access finances even before being trained.

In an interview, Thursday, Mubanga lamented that people go too used to getting handouts during the previous administration, but emphasised the need to work for any gain.

“The challenge we are facing is that we are overwhelmed because people will want to get empowerment, to get access to the finances there and then. As a ministry, we are new and we have to make sure people are skilled before they get any empowerment otherwise you will give someone who has got no skills and then you risk losing that empowerment. Yes, people have to form up the cooperatives but they also have to be willing to be trained. We are encouraging everyone to access the empowerment as long as you are a Zambian and able to access training,” he said.

“The economy was extremely damaged to the core and there was this notion of politicians going to our people and dishing out money. That has completely destroyed the minds of Zambian youths and women. So wherever you go, the general public will want to get money and things like that. We are working to ensure the mind of the youth is changed, that is another thing. So we want to make sure people understand [that] when you work then you are paid, when you have done something then you can have the money.”

He said government was also scouting for funds from cooperating partners to empower the youths.

“Yes we will give you start-up capital, as the government we are also scouting. You know, it’s not easy as we found the treasury empty. So we need to get to our cooperating partners to try and help us with the capital we can give to the youths. Otherwise we have goodwill, our cooperating partners have come on board and obviously there are programmes that our SMEs are being engaged in. Others we will just link them, there is partnership and things like that,” said Mubanga.

“I’m in Southern Province touring the entire province. I began with Kazungula, Livingstone, Zimba, Kaloma and now I will be getting into Choma after the Vice President leaves the province. So we want to make sure every corner of this country is sensitised, we emphasise the mandate of our ministry which is to foster and accelerate the growth of the SMEs to give them affordable financing as well as try and give them access to the market.”