The AGS LEVEL UP Programme is a 6-month Accelerator Programme which includes tailored coaching and mentoring to make businesses investor ready. It focuses on high potential Zambian Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups with ambition to grow. The Accelerator Programme currently has six cohorts running, all at different stages.
As part of the process, the Edgewise Cohort, which is being run by Edgewise Business Solutions converged in Solwezi, North-western province for a 2-day Investment Readiness Symposium, from 27th to 28th January 2022.
The symposium aimed to provide a platform to engage with suppliers, finance institutions, mentors, and regulators. The event brought together different stakeholders including industry experts, service providers, investors and the participating businesses from different sectors. Officiating at the event, North-western Province Minister, represented by the Provincial Permanent Secretary Colonel Grandson Katambi, highlighted the importance of unity and partnership for the success of businesses and called on stakeholders to share ideas with MSMEs and support the programme to accelerate MSME development.
“We have embarked on the opening up of all roads leading to neighbouring countries,” Col. Katambi announced.
In her opening keynote, Sylvia Mutale, Edgewise Business Solutions Managing Partner, indicated that the MSMEs in the cohort, had gone through a rigorous four months of the 6-month training and had their competitiveness enhanced during the period. She expressed that Edgewise expects that the MSMEs will record high levels of productivity at primary level at the end of the year 2022.
“I urge you to get as much information as possible from the stakeholders present and gain business linkages,” Sylvia Mutale advised the MSMEs.
The event featured activities and presentations from various stakeholders and MSMEs. The Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries gave an overview of the ministry’s mandate, policies, and programmes, highlighted various opportunities in the sector and the supply gap on the market and opportunities for SME investment.
Other presentations included, National Pensions Authority (NAPSA) – Managing the human resource regulatory obligations, Zambia Revenue Authority – Tax Regulations and SME Obligations and ZANACO – EU Small Holder Funding / SME Funding Opportunities.
As part of facilitating linkages between SMEs and financial service providers, the event included a speed dating session on the second day. It was revealed that one of the challenges that SMEs face in accessing business finance is the inadequate presentation/articulation of their business models and financing needs.
The MSMEs were also accorded the opportunity to pitch their businesses to potential financiers. ZANACO, NATSAVE, Citizens’ Economic Empowerment Commission and AGS were on hand to provide the pitching platform.