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“Jobs Market Place” competition to find Zambia’s most innovative job creators and learn lessons as Zambia confronts jobs challenge

At a major conference to be held next week – November 24th and 25th – in Lusaka, Zambia’s most innovative and sustainable job creators will participate in a competition to find which has the most potential for generating much needed employment in Zambia. A panel of distinguished judges will select the winners from a number of sectors, with the awards presented by the Minister of Commerce and Industry.


The “Jobs Market Place” competition will be part of the High Level Stakeholder Dialogue Event – Zambia’s Way Forward: Job Creation to Promote Inclusive Growth – which is organised jointly by the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) and its twenty cooperating partners (CPG).


The competition will provide a unique opportunity for the Government, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to become familiar with the various initiatives being undertaken to promote jobs in Zambia. The intention is to use the competition to showcase the most innovative examples of job creation in Zambia, and highlight key lessons that can be replicated by others. There will be a big focus on the ability to take small innovations and scale them up – to have a lasting impact on Zambia’s jobs challenge.


Examples of the innovative approaches that the conference will be show casing include: companies that have provided training to rural producers in a diversity of legal and income generating skills and helping with marketing of their products, enterprises that have created jobs by processing of food items such as peanuts, soya bean and oranges, and financial sector institutions that are providing support for medium and small enterprises engaged in agribusinesses.


Learning from organisations that have successfully created employment is important as Zambia faces a big challenge in creating adequate jobs for its growing population. The 2013 Afrobarometer Survey, found the issue of jobs to be the most important challenge that Zambia needs to address. There is a particular challenge to find jobs for the growing number of young people. In 2010, 130,000 young workers entered the labour force. By 2030 about 300,000 young workers will be added to the labour force every year. However, World Bank research shows that the pace of formal job creation is far too slow to absorb this number of new workers. And farming, the major employer, is not necessarily an occupation of choice for those working in it.


The current unemployment rate in Zambia is 7.9 per cent. This, however, masks the very high level of employment (83.4%) in the informal sector (made up largely of subsistence farming and self-employment) characterised by low earnings, high poverty and low productivity.

The Government of Zambia recognizes that the sectors that have contributed to economic growth, such as mining, have not been able to create adequate jobs in the economy. To tackle the phenomenon of “jobless growth” experienced in Zambia the Government recognises that a strategic approach is needed to deal with the job challenge and has set itself the goal of creating about 800,000 formal jobs during the revised Sixth National Development Plan period (2013-2016).

How the “Jobs Market Place” competition will work:

Ahead of the conference, a panel of judges selected 30 organisations with a proven track record of creating jobs in Zambia. These 30 organizations were selected from a longer list of interested applicants—some old and established companies, some small and some large, some working in agriculture, others in manufacturing, construction or even recycling. Criteria for selection included:

  • An existing record of creating jobs
  • Ability to scale up
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability – the ability to have a lasting impact
  • Contributing to a value chain

Each has been invited to host a stall at the Market Place where they will be asked to provide a short presentation to a panel of distinguished judges, including representatives of the private sector, government officials, civil society and cooperating partners. The judges will select 5 winners, each of which will win a cash prize. A final winner will be selected from the five by the audience via electronic voting to participate in a panel discussion with the Minister of Finance and other senior private and civil society representatives.