In 2010, I had a conversation with Voster Tembo in which we discussed the plight of the people we knew in Zambia who had good business ideas but no access to finance to start those businesses. We had both noted how this was a common complaint among the poor people with whom we worked. Arising from that conversation, and having researched the Bangladesh model of the “Grameen Bank” founded by Muhammad Yunis, we set up the “Zambian Development Support Foundation” (ZDSF).
The ZDSF is registered in Zambia as a company and it has charitable status. Its purpose is to provide very small loans to poor people who have no alternative source of business finance. The average loans are in the region of €300.00 and invariably our customers are widows with hungry mouths to feed.
It took a good while to put this all in place, but since early 2014, based on starting capital of just a few thousand euro, we have assisted in the foundation and expansion of over 40 start-up businesses. These businesses have all been successful and since we started all loans have been paid back. We are getting our seed capital back and therefore we are able to continue funding more business ideas.
We greatly expanded our work in 2017. Several issues of loans were made in 2017 and by partnering with other trusted community leaders we are now serving other communities around Ndola. Most recently, in June 2018, we have partnered with Pastor Francis Feruka of Ubusomboshi Royal Ministries church, who has organised some of his parishioners into the Rolay Business Centre. The business centre has started operations in chicken rearing and in sewing, using two sewing machines which were donated by supporters in Ireland. It is hoped that within a few months, the members of the business centre will be permanently lifted from poverty, and that more members can then be admitted, to commence the same journey.
The restraint on expansion in the past really came down to lack of funds, but we have received some significant donations in the past year which have greatly helped. So far, the project has been funded by a handful of generous donors, and I have donated money myself, but the need for more money is always pressing.
In order to continue the expansion, our Zambian partners asked for assistance with financial planning, bookkeeping and financial literacy, and so in 2018 we ran a short course on these topics for those who have joined ZDSF, and for those who aspire to do so. This is one project which can lift people out of poverty and place them in a financially stable position within six months.
You can read the ZDSF annual report for 2104, 2015 and November 2017 by pressing the links on the right.