A few months ago I read a Twitter thread about unemployed youth and graduates looking for jobs and those working in underpaid jobs they are over qualified for. I read about side hustles, entrepreneurship, buying and selling and an active informal market. The lead image was a young man in a graduation gown, selling tomatoes on the side of the road. If anyone can find that tweet for me, I'll be so happy to use it to illustrate this post and demonstrate the very real challenges facing our youth. In that thread I read replies from those sounding defeated and those fighting on and making positive progress. I am always particularly interested in those with a positive mindset, those helping themselves and building. One day at a time. One step at a time. One win at a time.
What I see in Zambia is that there is a thriving informal market that is almost invisible to the Westernised eye and is being ignored by many established Zambian businesses who have shops in malls. Many bigger businesses expect their customers to come to them despite their lack of communication and engagement with said customers. This may well be an expensive mistake to make in such a volatile market.
The world of micro and independent retail and informal trade in Zambia is a world of high speed social media feeds (blink and you'll miss the product you desperately need), WhatsApp sales (unscalable for business owners) and personal recommendations (both publicly on social media, and one to one, where my Aunt Whatsapped a post to a friend, who shared it with her son, who bought some new shoes from a woman in Ndola, who brought them in from China).
You see it on social media where micro and small businesses led by an army of young more tech savvy entrepreneurs are promoting their products and services in a highly effective way.
They are using high quality imagery to cultivate inspiration and desire. They look the part as they tell stories of their journey and stories of their customers successfully using their products. They know how to connect with their audience. They are authentic, they share their vulnerability, they are positive, hopeful and don't accept failure as an option — where there is failure they recover quickly and move on to cultivating another business opportunity.
Elizabeth Sachi and Nampwa Inambao are part of this army of young entrepreneurs. They are inspiring and they are youth worth celebrating. They might be leading businesses that are in their infancy but they have a big vision, they are learning through experience, they have an engaged fan base and they are earning. They are the future.
Name? Elizabeth Sachi
Name of business? Honey as Sach Processing and Packaging
What do you bring to the market? Pure organic honey
Why did you set up your business? To help people consume pure organic honey and to enjoy the full benefits of honey. Many people with certain medical conditions find it hard to access pure unadulterated honey on the market. I am here to provide that pure unadulterated honey.
What is your big vision for yourself and your business? To become the best and most reliable pure organic honey distributor in the region (Africa).
What opportunities do you think youth have in Zambia today, if any? I think the youth have opportunities in the agricultural sector, because we are young, energetic and ready to explore.
What are your hopes and dreams for Zambia? That Zambia becomes an environment that supports and provides a platform for start ups to thrive and grow.
Name? Nampwa Inambao
Name of business? Nammie’s Yummies
What do you bring to the market? Cakes, cupcakes, brownies and desserts for all occasions
Why did you set up your business? I started my business as a side hustle to earn an extra income whilst in uni and because I have a passion for baking.
What is your big vision for yourself and your business? My vision is to one day own a chain of bakeries and cafes across all provinces in Zambia.
What opportunities do you think youth have in Zambia today, if any? Opportunities for youth in Zambia are endless, there’s so much potential to be tapped into. There’s a growing market for literally anything.
What are your hopes and dreams for Zambia? That we fully tap into E-commerce and that our economy improves.
How can people buy your sweet delights? The range can be viewed online. Customers can order via the order form and all details on how to buy are in FAQs. Customers can also reach Nammie's Yummies via Whatsapp and all social media channels, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I'm hopeful. Elizabeth and Nampwa have the right attitude, a strong work ethic and a sound business idea.
Technology is also a driving force behind Honey as Sach and Nammie's Yummies growth. Phone. Laptop. Social media and the ability to create inspiring multi media content. WhatsApp. Improving payment platform landscape.
All this tech helps them build and connect with an audience and sell more effectively without the need for the expense of a physical shop which historically has been a reason why small businesses can't enter the market. In today's world, customers don't have to come to you. You can take the product to the customers. Digitally. And that is exactly what Honey as Sach and Nammie's Yummies are doing. They are integrating digital solutions with traditional ways of doing business and they are winning.
As a tech company we're excited to see the role that technology is playing. Our up and coming feature releases are for the young entrepreneur (young in age and/or business size).
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Happy Youth Day!