After months of intense preparation, workshops, and a final grueling televised examination in front of a panel of formidable business judges, Musanshi Louisa Chiluba was named winner of the Barclays-sponsored 2016 season of the Nyamuka Zambia business plan competition.
Musanshi Louisa Chiluba triumphed out of a pool of 658 participants which sees the young entrepreneur walking away with 250,000 kwacha to turn her business dreams into reality.
Launched in March 2015 under the United Kingdom aid-funded Private Enterprise Programme Zambia, Nyamuka Zambia provides grant capital for deserving entrepreneurs with projects that create jobs and help foster entrepreneurial ecosystems.
In the end, Musanshi was named the first-place winner for her plan to upscale her existing business, Soft Silver Investments, which specializes in growing Zambian button mushrooms.
This cash injection will enable her to more than double production from the current 1 tonne per month.
The judges were impressed by her plans to tap into the unmet demand in Zambia particularly for button mushrooms and to provide a viable alternative to South African imports.
Musanshi expressed commitment to providing quality local produce to Zambian consumers, with the aim of growing the business by training local women in mushroom production.
On receiving the prize, Musanshi commented: “It is bitter-sweet to come to the end of the Nyamuka Zambia competition as I have learned so much and met so many inspiring people along the way.
But I am thrilled to have secured the top prize as this money will help me and the rest of the Soft Silver team to really grow our business for the future”.
The objective of the business plan competition is to transform Zambia’s entrepreneurial setting by inspiring go-getting businessmen and women to take their ideas to the next level – creating employment and driving the economy forward in the process.
“During the course of the competition, Nyamuka Zambia provided all competitors with vital support and technical expertise through business planning workshops, coaching and mentoring sessions and many opportunities to network and connect with the wider world of business”
“So everyone is a winner, with the best talents being rewarded for their innovative business ideas and plans,” Namaya Mbikusita-Lewanika, Nyamuka Zambia Manager, explained.
Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Margaret Mwanakatwe, was the guest of honour, expressed enthusiasm at Nyamuka Zambia’s contributions to developing a network of business heroes.
“With a growing population of entrepreneurs that will add value to expanding the economy, Nyamuka Zambia deserves the commendation of all of us for its work in supporting start-ups and innovative businesses,” she said.
Alongside Musanshi Chiluba on the winners’ podium were four other finalists who secured enhanced prizes from 125,000 kwacha to 200,000 kwacha.
These were Bernard Kamweneshe, 56, who won the Zanaco Prize for Business Innovation for expansion of his education publishing business.
Others were Andrew Nguvu, 25, for a business to commercialize village chicken.
Peter Nawa, 30, for a publishing service for authors;
And Lungowe Situmbeko, 35, for her plan to develop moringa leaf powder products.
In addition, two prizes for promoting good nutrition sponsored by the SUN Business Network were won by Epini Shitambuli, for her plan for cage fish farming and Katongo Kabwe for his plan to produce oil from groundnuts.