By TENDAI KADYAMOTO
Entrepreneurs living near Kansanshi Copper Mine in Solwezi have turned a decommissioned mining conveyor belt into a viable income-generating venture, against all odds.
The industrious group of young people from Kyawama Market is harnessing the belt to their advantage by recycling it into durable shoes.
And First Quantum Minerals country Manager General Kingsley Chinkuli said the company believes in encouraging youths to pursue their dreams and consequently create businesses that would contribute to the country’s economic growth and human development.
“It is our belief that encouraging young people to pursue their dreams and establish their own businesses can lead to significant changes in the youth employment statistics. We know that when an enabling environment is provided, young people can do wonders” he said.
Mr Chinkuli said the provision of the conveyor belt was testimony of the company’s commitment to youth empowerment.
He said youth entrepreneurship is pivotal to the realisation of human potential hence the need for other stakeholders to provide a positive business environment for young people.
Mr Chinkuli further said that the FQM initiative of youth empowerment through entrepreneurship was aimed at complementing government efforts to provide the right environment to enable aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs to succeed.
“FQM believes that apart from providing shorter-term macroeconomic and fiscal policies to support job growth, establishing entrepreneurship at the heart of the education system is a key long-term initiative that will help provide an atmosphere where the dreams of millions of young people to make an impact and start their own enterprises can be realised,’’ said the Manager General.
Meanwhile, some beneficiaries of the initiative have commended FQM for helping and encouraging youths with interest in entrepreneurial activities.
One of the beneficiaries, Aaron Menda, who has been in a shoe business since 2010, praised the mining firm for providing the youths in the region with an enabling business atmosphere for their empowerment.
“Over this period, I have been trying to improve myself, and Kansanshi Mine’s idea could not have come at a better time for me. Ever since the mine made this material available, output has significantly improved, and it has translated into a better life for me and my family. I have acquired a plot and am currently putting up a structure,” said Mr. Menda.
Another beneficiary, Tenford Chinugnbe said the initiative has helped him and his family turn shoe-making business around.
“Since taking up the offer, demand for the shoes that my colleagues and I have been producing has risen to the extent that I am now supplying other districts such as Solwezi, Kalumbila, Mufumbwe, Kasempa, and Kitwe,” said Mr. Chinugnbe.
He further appealed to FQM to continue with this initiative and extend it to others to enable them get an income with which they can sustain themselves and their families.