FQM inspires N/West entrepreneurs

FQM Kansanshi Mining Public Relations Manager Godfrey Msiska
FQM Kansanshi Mining Public Relations Manager Godfrey Msiska

The North-Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NWCCI) is euphoric and optimistic that the on-going mentoring courses of indigenous entrepreneurs by First Quantum Minerals (FQM) will increase value-added services and positively impact the local economic development in Solwezi and surrounding areas.
FQM Kansanshi Mining PLC, in association with Fortune World, rolled out a series of business development courses aimed at equipping local entrepreneurs with skills that would improve their engagement with the mines in the region.
As a result, the NWCCI feels that the FQM capacity-building programmes designed for the local people will increase participation of local business persons in changing the economic landscape of the region.
Mathias Mutupa, the NWCCI President, said during the close of the 2013 business development sessions at Chiko Inn in Solwezi recently that his association would always work closely with FQM because of its positive work in imparting financial literacy to the local people.
Addressing the more than 200 participants who graduated from sessions offering basic knowledge of doing business, Mutupa said the intensified sensitisation of local vendors by FQM should be commended because they were being prepared for better things.
“This is unprecedented. We have an investor in the name of First Quantum Minerals getting involved in ensuring that local people who literally have zero knowledge of business skills to be given the opportunity for them to be self-sustaining. As North-Western Chamber, we are extremely touched and impressed with this exercise,” Mutupa said when handing out certificates to deserving delegates.
As economic activity  booms in the province, Mutupa said, the local people were correspondingly expected to be proactive in taking advantage of the business opportunities that were being made available as a result of the mining operations.
“I am appealing to you all, that you should not be by-standers but get involved in the economic activities of this province. FQM has done a commendable job of getting involved in the non-mining sector by putting money into educating you. You should therefore rise to the occasion,” said Mutupa, whose association was recently voted the Most Improved Chamber in Zambia.
The NWCCI chief urged all the delegates to enlist as members of the Chamber so that they may enjoy greater advantages of relating to mining firms. All available tenders at the mines are routed through the NWCCI who in turn present them to their members for bidding.
This idea went down well with delegates who promptly registered as members.
He said local entrepreneurs should ensure that they participated in the economic activities in Solwezi and elsewhere in the province by tendering for jobs in the mines, which would be made easier if they belonged to the chamber.
Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at FQM Kansanshi Mining Plc Bruce Lewis strengthened Mutupa’s voice by adding credence to his bait.
“Yes, it’s true that we deal with the North-West Chamber of Commerce who are the first people to get the tenders that are available in the mines. You should become members of the Chamber so that all the business opportunities open in the mines are presented to you through the association,” Mr Lewis said.
However, Mr Lewis said it was saddening that local business entrepreneurs in Solwezi were not getting the full benefit of the mining operations in the area because a huge percentage of the company’s expenditure was spent elsewhere in Zambia.
He said it was not impressive that local business people could not effectively do business with the mines in the region because they lacked the capacity to do so; hence the mining company’s financing business development courses.
Out of the 90 percent of the mining company’s expenditure, only five percent is spent in Solwezi. Mr Lewis encouraged local business entrepreneurs to rise to the occasion and build capacity for them to compete favourably with other players in doing business with the mines.
Mr Lewis, who was the guest of honour during the presentation of certificates to more than 234 participants who underwent a business development course which ran from July to December this year, said Kansanshi Mining PLC would always be available to enhance the local entrepreneurs’ business skills.
“I want to say that out of the money Kansanshi makes from the mining operations here, 90 percent goes to expenditure and out of the 90 percent, only five percent is spent here in Solwezi. We therefore would like all that money to be spent here,” Mr Lewis said.
He said Kansanshi Mining Plc would ensure that local entrepreneurs were assisted in building capacity so that they could compete favourably with other contractors from other parts of the country in doing business with the mines.
Fortune World Chairperson, Andrew Kafuta said the local people should desist from the negative trend of expecting hand-outs and urged them to get involved in business activities.
He said it would not help the local people to cry foul when they see their colleagues from other parts of the country doing business with the mines, when they were also capable of driving their businesses forward.
In moving a vote of thanks, Johnson Shindano said the participants had been greatly equipped by the business development course and appealed to Kansanshi Mining Plc to provide a revolving fund for them to start their business activities.
He requested FQM, the sponsors of the business development courses, to come up with a revolving fund that would help those that were eager to get into business activities.-Feature courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS