One of the biggest challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is access to finance. In Zambia, where the cost of borrowing money is prohibitively high, this reality is even harsher. Yet SMEs can provide a much-needed boost to an economy, create employment and as was demonstrated at Impact Capital Africa (ICA) in October 2019 they can also enable local procurement at various stages of the mining industry’s value chain.   

ICA is a multi-faceted two-day annual event in Lusaka, which brings together investment-ready SMEs and investors who see potential in Zambia, specifically in local companies that are making positive impacts. ICA also helps SMEs to prepare for discussions and exchanges with potential investors through its ‘Impact Starter’ platform.

Mining For Zambia attended the second annual ICA conference and, below, we walk you through its astounding success by highlighting some key outcomes.  

What happens at an ICA conference?

Each of the 27 Zambian SMEs made presentations about their businesses to a room full of ICA attendees from around the world, detailing how they intend to allocate investment, and the ways in which their business has a positive impact on Zambia. These “speed pitches” were capped at two minutes.

Were any companies from the mining industry present?

Three Zambian companies from within the engineering sector pitched their businesses, and the important roles that they see themselves playing within the mining value chain. Zambian mines minister Richard Musukwa in July 2019 expressed the intention to pass a law to improve local procurement by miners. The three companies seeking investment at ICA — Bellview Group, Nash Explosives and Alphatech Zambia — already work with local miners who are putting these local procurement principles into practice at various stages of the value chain.

Gina Williey, Managing Director at Bellview Group, pitches her business at ICA

Bellview Group has been a family-owned business since it was first registered in 1985 and, after initially specialising in mining and industrial equipment supply, it has since diversified to provide a variety of services, with dedicated divisions for lifting equipment and construction, to name two. 

Managing Director Gina Williey spoke to Mining For Zambia about the company’s participation in ICA 2019: 

“ICA presented us with a platform to streamline the direction in which we grow as a company that has been in the mining sector for over 20 years. We were able to focus on and choose partners that were interested in the development of Zambia via the mining sector. This project assisted us in becoming ‘investment-ready’. With the suitable funding and support, we are determined to showcase that there are companies within Zambia that can make a difference to local development.” 

What happened following ICA 2019?

ICA certainly got the ball rolling for Bellview Group. Gina Williey revealed: “We have been notified via our financial advisory company that there are good potential investors ready to enter into non-disclosure agreements, and we are currently in discussions. Our aim is to obtain the required funds in the form of debt, as our goal is to be a 100% locally owned company.”

Supporting SMEs is widely regarded as the key to driving a country’s economic growth. Zambia’s government has expressed a desire to encourage local procurement, and it is precisely these small and medium-sized businesses that need support in order to make that a reality within the mining industry. In facilitating and nurturing connections between SMEs and investors with a particular interest in Zambia, ICA is playing an exciting and valuable role in the country’s growth engine overall. 

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See also:  A collective vision for a successful mining sector