— The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) plans to disburse over KR3 million (K3billion) to eligible Zambians for entrepreneur activities in the fishing industry in Mpulungu district.
CEEC director general Likando Mukumbuta revealed this when he addressed a cross section of Mpulungu residents during a sensitization meeting held at the council chamber yesterday.
He said the commission had mobilized about K100 million to be spent in 30 districts countrywide, adding that Mpulungu, Mungwi and Kasama are the districts the commission was targeting for funding in 2013.
He advised citizens to take advantage of the fund and apply for viable projects for possible funding from the commission.
‘’Zambia is among the top 20 countries in the world in term of natural resource but what is surprising is that we are also among the top 20 poorest countries in the world….the government has said enough with the poverty and have tasked us to revamp industries and empower citizens so that the poverty levels could be drastically reduced in the country,’’ said Mukumbuta.
He stated that in Mpulungu, the commission will only grant business loans to entrepreneurs who intend to venture into the fishing business while Kasama and Mungwi district will be supported in growing soya beans and groundnuts respectively.
Mr Mukumbuta encouraged the youth, women and the disabled not to be left out but to equally apply for the funds.
‘’ We want 40 per cent of the total fund to go to the youths, because they are in the majority, 30 percent will go to the women, 20 percent to our brothers and sisters who are physically challenged while the men will share the rest,’’ Mr Mukumbuta stated.
He said this was because government wanted a cross section of society to benefit from the fund.
Mr Mukumbuta added that unlike in the past when the commission fund was mainly enjoyed by urban dwellers, 90 per cent of the fund shall this time around be channeled to rural areas to enhance industrialization and reduce poverty which was in alarming levels.
‘’ Our target is three districts per province per year….In the long run we are looking at national coverage so that every province and district is tackled by 2016,’’ said Mukumbuta, adding it was time to show some results and urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the fund.
Speaking earlier, district commissioner Juliana Chuzu commended the CEEC for identifying Mpulungu in the first tranche of district beneficiaries.
Chuzu said that the district had a lot of young entrepreneurs who were however limited because they lacked capital to start and flourish their businesses.
She said the programme could not have come at a better time when the fish stock in Lake Tanganyika was almost depleting.
‘’We are confident that people will now be able to develop fish ponds and run fish farms, set up storage machinery like cold rooms and transport their fish to the market.
But speaking during the public discussion, Mpulungu businessman Michael Sikazwe expressed fear that many people might find difficulties in filling in the application form in the absence of technocrats because the form was too complicated to be understood by a layman.
‘’Most of our people who also want to benefit from this programme cannot read and write and looking at this form, even the most intelligent grade 12 will surely have a tough time to understand some of its contents and requirements….what is the CEEC going to do to help those who can’t read?’’ he asked.
Mr Sikazwe stated that business development support services could have been engaged on the ground to assist in the development of project concept notes so that the commission could capture as many citizens as possible.
According to the commission, the business loans to be disbursed in the value chain based clusters will range from KR50,000.00 to KR500 million.