The United States Embassy in Zambia has been actively promoting entrepreneurship to meet our goal of sustained, broad-based, and inclusive economic prosperity in Zambia.
We see entrepreneurship as a practical means to stimulate local economic growth, create jobs, and reduce poverty. The ability to turn an idea into reality through a small business or new venture empowers people to tackle pressing personal, family, community and national problems.
The U.S. Embassy provides support to Zambian entrepreneurship through a variety of programs and events to promote business skills development, mentorship, business-to-business connections and partnerships, and facilitate access to opportunities, resources and networks. Some of the programs that we have supported in the past and/or continue to support include the following:
Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit
Held annually in Lusaka since 2015 in collaboration with the Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Center (WEAC, formerly WECREATE) and other partners, the summit brings together investors, entrepreneurs, resource providers and international and Zambian development agencies for a full-day program to explore business deals, partnerships, access to capital, business discussions, and networking. Participation is free. Over the past five years, attendance has progressively been increasing with over 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors, development agencies, government representatives, and members of the public attending the 2019 summit in addition to more than 620, 000 people who watched the event live on Facebook. Information about the Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit is circulated on U.S. Embassy and WEAC’s social media platforms, local media, and other communication channels.
Academy for Women Entrepreneurs
Launched in 2019, this is an entrepreneurship training and mentorship program supported by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to advance women’s economic empowerment around the world. Under the first phase in 2019, 100 women entrepreneurs were recruited in Lusaka through an open call to participate in the program implemented by WEAC and BongoHive. A total of 87 women from the first phase in Lusaka successfully completed their AWE training. AWE provides participants with free access to online and in-person business training facilitated by business mentors and coaches in order to obtain the knowledge, networks, and practical tools needed to start and grow their businesses. Nine participants from the first project each received $25,000 seed funding from the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) following a competitive review of their business plans. Each phase lasts for one year. In the second phase of the program launched in October 2020 and implemented by WEAC, AWE expanded outside Lusaka and included 150 women participants from Lusaka, Kitwe, and Ndola. One hundred and forty (146) of the 150 participants successfully completed this second phase, six of whom received $10,000 each in seed funding from USADF. The third phase of AWE will launch in August 2021 and recruit 180 women entrepreneurs in Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola, and Livingstone. This phase is also implemented by WEAC in partnership with Copperbelt Innovation and Technology Limited.
Professional Exchange Programs
The U.S. Embassy identifies and nominates promising young Zambian entrepreneurs to participate in business leadership training through U.S. professional exchange programs, including the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Mandela Washington Fellowship, and International Visitor Leadership Program. Since 2014, more than 50 Zambians have participated in the Business and Entrepreneurship track of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program. We also have entrepreneurs taking part in regional TechCamps and the YALI Regional Leadership Center in Johannesburg. These training opportunities are fully paid for by the U.S. government and will continue to be a cornerstone of U.S.-Zambia relations. You can learn more about our exchange programs here.
American Spaces Entrepreneurship Events
Our American Spaces in Zambia (comprising American Center Lusaka located at U.S. Embassy Lusaka, the American Corner at NIPA main campus in Lusaka and the American Corner at Copperbelt University in Kitwe) are free public spaces that provide additional continuity and engagement on entrepreneurship with our Zambia audiences. American Spaces host free entrepreneurship talks, presentations, workshops and other activities for the benefit of youth, women, students and other Zambians interested in entrepreneurship. American Center Lusaka’s “Women’s Wednesday” series hosts young Zambian women leaders to inspire other women and girls on topical issues, including business. Our American Corners at NIPA in Lusaka and CBU in Kitwe offer MakerSpace programs to help build innovation and entrepreneurial skills among young Zambians. To learn more about American Spaces programs and resources, click here.
In Zambia, entrepreneurs have an essential role to play in this country’s development. Their successful businesses are a central facet in diversifying Zambia’s economy, an economic goal of the current Government of the Republic of Zambia. Entrepreneurship can also create a culture in which innovation and creativity are valued and lead to original solutions to life’s challenges.