Written by Imogen Hunter
On the Monday of our mid phase review, each of our SME’s were asked to give a presentation on the work that we have been doing over the first four weeks of our placements. Even though the day was reasonably hectic and jam packed, it was a nice occasion for everyone to get together looking smart and actually get a more in depth insight into what our friends had been doing in their SME’s.
It was really nice to see just how passionate and knowledgeable each and every one of us were about our SME’s and the impact that we have made.
For example, Tommaso from PES oil has started a Corporate Social Responsibility programme for his company, for which he has written a proposal for our other SME’s to come on board. His proposal aims to support the education and feeding of 1200 children at the Needs Care school in the Ng’ombe compound. This just goes to show how volunteers are trying to collaborate their SME’s for the greater good, to make a much larger impact in the community which is fundamentally what we are here to achieve. This showed us how Tommaso has been proactive as he has seized an opportunity for his SME that will not only benefit his company but will also help the poorest in the community.
On behalf of Java Foods, Christina and Mataanana shared the great waves they’ve made so far, such as the introduction of a customer relationship management system. This enables Java Foods to track exactly how many packs of eeZee Noodles are sold and where, and gives the Foot Soldiers who are the lifeline of the business a way of measuring their success.
Ralph and Kassie from EPA Consulting blew us away with their knowledge of aflatoxin, a naturally occurring component that is produced by certain fungi in particular foods. It is currently present to potentially damaging levels in staple Zambian foods, for instance increasing the likelihood of stunted growth in children. Ralph and Cassie are championing the introduction of a product called Aflasafe to eradicate aflatoxin from foods, which has been successfully implemented in other countries.
This day was particularly eventful as we also finally got to meet our Senior Business Mentor, Malcolm Evans, who has been particularly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about all of our SME’s. He said that he very much enjoyed listening to all of the SME profiles, hearing about all of our experiences and the challenges that we are facing relating directly to the work that we are doing.
“I am more than impressed with the work you are doing and the way you have all identified with the businesses and organisations that you are working with and for. It is down to you that I am now a committed champion for ICS Entrepreneur”.
The two other guests of the panel listening to our presentations were Claire and Mrs Mweene, the wife to the owner of PES Oil. Mrs Mweene is an economist by profession, who works at the ministry of finance and has been a judge on economic and financial related forums. Claire is a Chair person for Nyamuka Zambia, a programme that helps young start up entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
After everyone had finished presenting we all headed off to the British Embassy where we were welcomed with open arms with tea, coffee and biscuits. We were given the opportunity to talk to the Deputy High Commissioner, Sean Melbourne about our SME’s and our impact in the community. This was also a great opportunity as we were able to gain a greater insight into the work that the British Embassy does, and how they also work with SME’s. They also gave us some top tips about staying safe in Lusaka, reiterating things like wearing a seatbelt at all times – dodging cars and taking dirt tracks to avoid traffic is common practice for cab drivers here.
It was also interesting to learn that the High Commission have tripled the number of Chevening scholarships, an award given to overseas students in over 150 countries to study in Britain, thanks to a significant investment from the UK government with the aim of developing the next generation of global leaders.
Monday 9th November wasn’t ‘just another manic Monday (to quote The Bangles), it was a manic Monday full of innovation, enthusiasm and teamwork.