Meet Zambia’s young entrepreneurs ready to take on the world

So what does Njavwa Mutambo, Tuliswensi Sinyangwe, Chaka Ng’ambi and Byenda Nkwanda have in common?

Well, they are all young enterprising Zambians and they are all alumni of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEP).

Launched in 2015, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and carries the foundation’s 10-year, $100 million vision to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs.

Founded by Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu, a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa and Transcorp, the Foundation targets to create a million jobs, and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

The TEP alumni network comprises all Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs who have successful completed a 12-week training programme.

The four are part of several Zambians who have attended the mentorship programme between 2015 and 2016 and have each received between US$5,000 and US$10,000 seed capital to grow their businesses.

Just in March this year, 21 Zambians were among the 1,000 African entrepreneurs selected for the 2017 edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Programme out of 93,000 applicants from across 55 African countries.

Byenda Nkwanda, 21, CEO-Golden Traib

At just 21, Byenda is already on her way to creating a fashion empire for herself using her own fashion label Golden Traib.

Throughout her High School days, Byenda always wanted to become an entrepreneur and after leaving school, she was ready to launch her business but that it was merely an idea at the time.

It was not until 2015 when she was browsing through the local newspapers that she stumbled upon an advert which read, “Is your business worth 10,000 dollars?”

“And I thought to myself, it definitely is,” says an excited Byenda.

That is how the long application process began for Byenda, a Business school graduate from NIPA.

“Just the entire application process itself teaches you so much about your business because they really dissect everything that you are doing. So it really helped me put into perspective all my goals and it helps you decide what you really want to do,” says Byenda.

She said getting accepted into the programme made her feel validated that her business idea was solid and worth the shot.

“People always ask whether I applied because of the money, oh well, every business needs money but for me just the mentorship and the learning i received was such an eye opener and I learnt so much. One of the key things I learnt was the ability to stand on my own in my business,” she said.

Byenda said the entrepreneurship scene in Lusaka is challenging especially for young people.

“At the time I applied, I had just turned 18 and I was asking myself, how I am goona do this? There are sharks everywhere but going through the mentorship taught me so much on how to run my business and two years on, I feel I made the best decision of my life,” Byenda said.

She said she is seriously pursuing her business because fashion and designing for her is more than just a hobby.

“You know, I want to create a long standing change on my continent, its economy and the outlook on creativity in general. I want to do more than just make money, i want to create a positive impact that will pave a way for others today and future generations in Africa,” she said.

She said Golden Traib is contributing to creating sustainable businesses because it procures all the production materials locally.

“My vision is to create an industry and not just a fashion label.”

Njavwa Mutambo, 22, CEO and Co-Founder-Musanga Logistics

At the age of 16, Njavwa found himself dropping out of school. He was in Grade in 11 at David Kenneth Kaunda Technical School in Lusaka and his grades were falling.

He was later persuaded to go back and finish his High School and write his final Grade 12 exams. His passion then was running his first business-a food delivery service.

He was later to co-found Musanga, a logistics startup with the help of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and a Lusaka start up incubator called BongoHive.
Musanga Musanga (which means Fast-Fast), is a platform that enables users to send packages within Lusaka.

“The idea came after I was running a retail outlet (hustling) selling phones and stuff and it was very hard to meet the customers, then I met a friend who run a retail business and she told me how difficult it was for her to send packages through Lusaka. We looked into this problem and found that there are 12,000 estimated businesses around Lusaka that either sell a payroll, electronics, pharmaceuticals that were going through the same struggle,” Njavwa said.

He added, “we set up Musanga Logistics in 2016 and we got overwhelming response and we quickly hit a 1,000 transactions and we said maybe we are on to something, maybe this is not a dream. That is how Musanga Logistics started.”

Musanga Logistics currently has six members and a board comprising professional people drawn from the corporate sector.

“As Musanga, we enable commerce, we enable businesses to send packages. So we have signed up third parties who can deliver packages, this could be cyclists, motor cycle rider or a van owner.

He said Musanga had a very difficult start but that now things are looking up.

“It was a crazy start. We started off with no bikes and using third parties means we need scale from our customers. A bike was going for US$ 1,500, we didn’t have that money, so we managed to negotiate a deal with a bicycle retailer and they kind of bid on us. They gave us the bike and they just said somehow you gonna have to find the money to pay us and that gave us our start,” he said.

Njavwa says Musanga’s ambition is to become a big logistics player across the region.

“Our focus is to become a last mile delivery provider, meaning 30 KM radius and operate city to city. What we want is to be the number one delivery company within Lusaka and then move that model to the next city, be it Kitwe, Livingstone or Bulawayo and Dar es Salaam,” Njavwa said.

He continued, “We have a very detailed plan, we call it, 3, 3, 3. In the next three years, we are going to have an office outside Lusaka, then outside Sub Saharan Africa and in nine years, we goona have an office outside Africa and we are on course to achieving that.”

Njavwa said there is so much potential for African businesses to cut down on their transportation costs by utilising technology.

“It’s a pity that internet costs are high and that is a constraint because that stops people from utilising our mobile app but the upside is so high because 50 to 75 % of retail products in Sub Saharan African is because of transportation costs. So if we can bring that down to at least 30 percent using technology, there is so much opportunity in that space.”

Njavwa said being on the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme has opened up so many doors for him.

“I have learnt stuff that would probably take me years in a Masters programme to learn. Each time I am making a presentation whether at home or abroad, I always make it a point to put the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme and that instantly gives us recognition. This programme is the real deal for any young African entrepreneur,” he said.

Read More : Lusak Times