The World Bank Group and the Zambian Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, in partnership with Lusaka’s entrepreneurship hub BongoHive and AgriProfocus, have launched the first bootcamp in the country focused on supporting small and medium enterprises in the agro-processing sector.
The Zambia Agribusiness Bootcamp is a competitive mentoring and training program designed to help growth-oriented SMEs who operate in value added agribusiness to derive concrete and feasible expansion plans. Over the next three months, the bootcamp will support participating enterprises through coaching, market contacts and peer learning the bootcamp is a precursor to the up-coming MarketConnect service, which is a five-year program that will be launched later this calendar year by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.
“The agribusiness sector is an important driver of diversified and inclusive economic growth in Zambia,” said Ina-Marlene Ruthenberg, the World Bank country manager for Zambia. “To reach their full growth potential, small and medium agribusiness companies need access to know-how and market linkages. This bootcamp will provide ambitious Zambian entrepreneurs with exposure to industry leaders and business insights from people in business.”
A call for application was launched in 22nd December, 2017. From the applicants,150 companies will be shortlisted and invited to attend face-to-face “speed dating” sessions to pitch their businesses to Zambian business experts as preparation for the bootcamp. The top 30 companies will proceed to the all-expenses-paid, five-day Bootcamp in Lusaka from March 19-23, 2018.
Speaking during the launch, Kayula Siame, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry said, “My Ministry is pleased to launch the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Agribusiness Bootcamp, an initiative that, in collaboration with the InfoDev Group of the World Bank is expected to identify a select group of ‘agri-preneurs’ that will become the first beneficiaries from our MarketConnect service. MarketConnect is an advisory, brokerage and financial support service provided by the Zambia Agribusiness and Trade Project (ZATP) that aims to promote the sustainable integration of agribusiness SMEs into value chains with established end-markets and large buyers, by supporting their ability to invest in productivity-enhancing know-how and meet buyer requirements. The focus will be on helping the beneficiaries SMEs improve their commercial viability, financial position and operational efficiency, thereby increasing their productivity, and prospects for increased investments and employment generation. The support will also include the Business Linkage Fund (BLF) which is a matching grant facility.”
Ten top performers of the bootcamp will become the first beneficiaries of Zambia Agriculture and Trade Project (ZATP)’s MarketConnect.
“Two Brothers, Food Lover’s Market is excited to be a part of the Agribusiness Bootcamp. As a company that works with over 180 local farmers and SMEs, we are committed to supporting and helping develop Zambian agribusinesses and SMEs alike. Zambia is blessed with fertile soil and enterprising citizens, and we believe the opportunities are endless for those willing to put in the hard work necessary for success,” said Henry Jere, Food Lovers Market East Park Mall General Manager.
The Agribusiness Bootcamp will host information sessions in Chipata at Crystal Spring Lodge at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, and in Kitwe at Moba Conference Centre at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018.
The Zambia Agribusiness Bootcamp, conducted by BongoHive and AgriProFocus, is sponsored by the World Bank Group’s infoDev program, and run in conjunction with the Zambian Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry through the Zambia Agribusiness and Trade Project.