Entrepreneurship is buzzing in Zambia as more and more people seek opportunities to be their own boss and start a business they are passionate about. This was very evident when BongoHive organized the Zambian arm for Demo Africa, an initiative that aims to bring together Africa’s most innovative companies and provide them a global platform to launch their products and announce to Africa and the world what they have developed.
The final five businesses at the Zambian pitch event were impressive in their innovation and business models. Universal Talk Time (UTT) is a company that will soon, as the name suggest, launch a universal scratch card that can be loaded onto a mobile phone and used to pay for a variety of services. Just one card will be able to recharge both Airtel and MTN numbers, pay for DStv (cable TV), recharge electricity units with ZESCO and even buy data bundles on Vodafone. Real Zambian home grown innovation! Musanga Logistics was the next to pitch their business, which is an online platform that businesses can use to send packages through a network of independent couriers. A user simply logs onto the app, creates a task which Musanga assigns to one of its couriers and tracks the task until delivery. The couriers are typically young people who can’t find a job but, with a bicycle and Musanga Logistics was the next to pitch their business, which is an online platform that businesses can use to send packages through a network of independent couriers. A user simply logs onto the app, creates a task which Musanga assigns to one of its couriers and tracks the task until delivery. The couriers are typically young people who can’t find a job but, with a bicycle and smart phone, are able to earn an income through Musanga’s platform. This business has won international awards for being an outstanding start-up and will be representing Zambia in Silicon Valley!
Many small businesses struggle with controlling inventory and detecting theft and fraud especially when an owner has to manage multiple shops or sites. Outsource Now is a Zambian business that has developed its own software to manage inventory and stocks in one or many locations in real time. The platform allows business owners to access important information such as daily sales, revenue and inventory count remotely at any time. It can even track transactions to individual personnel. The growth trajectory of this business is exponential.
Many Zambians need access to credit and Lupiya is a platform created to provide loans at a reduced cost due to its innovative approach. Lupiya signs MOUs with companies and savings groups to allow their employees or members to access loans which start from as little as K100 and go up to K20,000 through its online platform. What makes Lupiya unique is that it allows people to invest in the business from as little as K300 and earn interest on their investment. Those funds are then on-lent to borrowers. The incremental investment opportunity for on lending is a very new and exciting addition to Zambian business practice.
Environmentally focused companies are a recent and growing segment of the business landscape in Zambia. NewTech Recycling is tackling the growing piles of rubbish in many of our urban centres by paying vulnerable people to collect waste in their communities which NewTech then uses to make a wide range of products ranging from paving stones, poles, fencing material and furniture. This is an amazing social enterprise that is cleaning up communities, saving the planet and helping low income people. Not surprising NewTech won the pitch competition and has advanced to the next stage of the competition!
For people in the diaspora who may wonder about the business environment in Zambia, opportunities abound as can be seen from the businesses that pitched at the event. There are still many areas to be exploited particularly in the tech and digital space that is still in its infancy and therefore poised for rapid growth for first movers. If you’re in the diaspora start thinking about starting your business back home today! Take advantage of the many positive aspects of doing business back home. You too could start the next business or technical revolution in Zambia!