LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
A COMMUNITY banking group in Solwezi District of North Western Province have managed to raise a total of K14,600,450 through the self-financing community banks initiative, says First Quantum Minerals (FQM).
FQM’s Kansanshi Foundation sustainability and livelihoods officer, Golden Kontakonta said that the self-financing community banks initiative was one the mining firm’s most successful local economic development programmes.
In a statement, Mr Kontakonta said that in 2015 FQM’s Kansanshi mine introduced to the community a banking model of micro-finance to help locals to have access to funds to start up small businesses or expand existing ones.
“Despite the increase in the cost of living coupled with rising electricity, fuel and food prices, at total of 249 community banks with a membership of 9,422, raised more than K14.6 million in saving at the end of December 2019,” he said.
Mr Kontakonta said that apart from helping to start up small businesses the funds were also helping to improve financial literacy and encouraging a culture of saving.
He said the mining firm believed that despite direct employment being one of the major benefits it had delivered in the communities surrounding its mining operations,
Mr Kontakonta said that skills training, entrepreneurial programs and efforts to foster local economic development were key to ensuring long-term prosperity for the local economy.
Mr Kontakonta said that the self-financing community banks initiative was one of the most successful local economic development programmes the mining firm was spearheading in the District, which was the foundation of economic development in the local community.
He said that the programme was a natural complement to the company’s livelihoods improvement programmes, inspiring villages to come together and develop their own responses to poverty.
Mr Kontakonta said that selectively investing in homegrown economic ventures, communities had a sense of responsibility that encourages both disciplined management and pride in accomplishing goals essential features of any sustainable enterprise.
“The banking programme has created a stable income flow for the communities surrounding the mine, where the members have been able to borrow cash for start-up capital or expanding existing enterprises or even send their children to school as well as buy groceries for their homes,
“The banks are in line with the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) Number One, which aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere – something FQM strives for through its economic impact as the country’s largest taxpayer and one of its largest employers,” he said.
Mr Kontakonta said that the mining firm was of the view that increasing access to financial services provided employment through start-up ventures and improved financial security for many people who could not be absorbed into formal employment.
He said that to secure funds not in circulation FQM supplied a vault simple strongbox, triple-locked so three key-holders should be present for any deposits or withdrawals.
LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes