Driving Digital Transformation for Zambian Agricultural SMEs: A Success Story

BongoHive, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and ACDI/VOCA, has played a pivotal role in the Zambia EDGE Project by leading the ‘Leveraging Digital Technologies’ component. This initiative aims to empower Zambian agricultural small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt digital solutions to grow their businesses. Over the past two years, this initiative has enhanced the capacity of 225 SMEs across Lusaka, Central, and Eastern provinces to utilise digital tools for increased sales, reduced expenses, and improved access to critical resources.

To achieve this, our Entrepreneurship unit conducted a comprehensive needs assessment and desk review at the start of the project, informing the development of tailored training curricula and modules. The team then introduced the SMEs to digital marketing strategies and connected them with platforms such as Meta, eMsika, Shop Bwana, and Lima Links, among others. Following three months of intensive training, SMEs received six months of dedicated support to digitise their businesses.

The first cohort successfully equipped 112 SMEs with the skills and resources to establish and manage their digital presence on platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, WhatsApp Business, and TikTok Business. Currently, the project is in full swing with its second cohort, which has recently completed eight weeks of online training sessions. Upcoming activities include in-person sessions to explore leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) for business growth and providing valuable coaching to address specific challenges in managing digital presence.

The EDGE project has proven instrumental in elevating the competitiveness and resilience of Zambian agricultural SMEs in the digital age.

Below are some of the success stories and testimonials from the participants:

Participant Success Stories

Kanji Poultry Services
Kanji Poultry Services, owned by Izukanji Simbaya in Kapiri-Mposhi, specialises in rearing broilers and village chickens. Izukanji sought to improve his startup’s operations through online tools. “I have learned a lot that has changed my perspective on running a business using traditional and modern online tools, thanks to USAID-EDGE and BongoHive. I can now use social media platforms to advertise my business to a larger community beyond my geographical location,” he said. The project expanded his network to leading industry experts and investors, enabling him to secure further funding to expand his services. “Last year, I participated in the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and received $5,000 seed capital. The training with the USAID EDGE Project was crucial in understanding my digital marketing strategy. This money will help expand our poultry project by venturing into layers.”

Nature’s Kiss Cosmetics
Betty Chilonge, owner of Nature’s Kiss Cosmetics in Chilanga District, creates cosmetic products using natural resources. “There is power in visibility,” she said. Betty aimed to learn how to manage her business resources and develop a fan base on social platforms. “I have seen the importance of having an online community and how it can grow my business, thanks to the training programmes. I have learned techniques that help with content creation through the virtual classes BongoHive hosted, and I am excited to implement these into my business.”

C&S Agro
C&S Agro, located in Chibombo district, supplies agricultural and farming inputs to its local community. Founder Salima Lungu participated in the programme to develop her capacity-building skills. “Being a part of USAID’s Enterprise Development and Growth Enhanced Activity has expanded my knowledge of digital marketing in the agricultural space and linked me to other institutions through social media platforms, expanding my reach,” she said. “This project has taught me how to manage my business more efficiently and effectively and linked me to suppliers of agricultural products that will go a long way in my community. Anyone looking to expand their knowledge of technology and build a community will benefit from this initiative.”

Malila Farm
Maria Lungu, owner of Malila Farm in the Central province, managed to partner with fellow SME participant Noah Sinkala. “The EDGE programme has connected me with other entrepreneurs who face similar challenges. Partnering with Noah has opened up new avenues for collaboration and growth.”

Agness Ndililwa, founder of AgriChandi in the Central province, has secured three investors and partners through her enhanced online presence. “Before the EDGE project, reaching investors seemed impossible. Now, my business is thriving with new partnerships and investment opportunities thanks to the digital marketing skills I’ve acquired.”

Green Giraffe
Mwiche Mukoma from Lusaka, owner of Green Giraffe, has benefited holistically from the programme. “The EDGE project has transformed my business approach. I now understand the full potential of digital tools and have implemented strategies that have significantly improved my business operations.”

Banyama Enterprise
Hibanyama Choongo, owner of Banyama Enterprise in Lusaka, experienced increased visibility and vital knowledge gains from the programme. “Being online has dramatically increased my business’s visibility. The knowledge I’ve gained from the EDGE project has been instrumental in driving my business forward.”

These success stories reflect the significant impact of the EDGE project on Zambian agricultural SMEs. By adopting digital tools and strategies, these enterprises are poised to tap into new markets, streamline operations, and enhance their overall productivity.

As BongoHive, we are proud to partner with USAID and play a role in helping SMEs in rural parts of Zambia overcome digital accessibility challenges and increase visibility for their products and services. We remain committed to supporting Zambian entrepreneurs in their journey towards digital transformation and business growth.