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COOPERATIVES: EFFECTIVE WAY OF ‘FIXING’ YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

COOPERATIVES: EFFECTIVE WAY OF ‘FIXING’ YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
…Form cooperatives to access the youth empowerment fund to create your own jobs – Chilekwa Mambwe
By SIMON MUNTEMBA
YOUTH unemployment has remained one of the biggest challenges in Zambia, leading to economic downturns and frustrations among the youthful population who appear not to see light at the end of the tunnel.
The prolonged unemployment has a negative effect on the jobless young people, and this ultimately contributes towards an increase in the level of poverty, cultivating bad vices leading to negative energy such as alcohol abuse, drugs, prostitution and theft.
Indeed, the jobless rate has escalated to unprecedented levels in Zambia, as evidenced during a historic wind of change that swept through the nation on Thursday, August 12, 2021, with youths turning up in numbers, some in graduation gowns to vote out the government which they felt was not doing enough to resolve their plight.
Youths were in the majority among the people who rose up early to queue at polling stations in readiness to cast their votes in the long awaited Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections.
They voted out the Patriotic Front regime with the hope that under President Hakainde Hichilema, of the United Party for National Development, they will all be employed.
The youth had the biggest say in ushering President Hichilema into power, as they were convinced that he was going to “fix” their problems.
This is probably why Mr Hichilema’s campaign message seemed to have resonated well with the needs of the youth people, earning himself the nickname “Bally” from which his campaign slogan, “Bally will fix it,” was coined.
The majority of youths with impressive academic achievements and others with rich technical skills are roaming the streets with no hope of acquiring employment.
But the question is, is it possible for the new dawn administration to employ all the jobless youths? Or is there any government that has managed to employ everybody? If not, what, then is an effective way of addressing youth unemployment and poverty?
According to Mr Chilekwa Mambwe, the Chairman-General of Kalumbila Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited, the government cannot employ the youth, but can embark on a programme of creating entrepreneurs who will in turn employ youths in the small and medium enterprises.
Mr Mambwe said to fill the unemployment gap, his ubuntu movement has been sensitising young people on the need to form co-operatives if they are to access the youth empowerment fund to create jobs and expand their own businesses.
He said youth associations have the potential to help young people to achieve better living standards and to acquire new skills.
He explained that the cooperative form of enterprise provides young people a means to create their own employment, find jobs with enterprises that often align themselves with their own values, and participate as member-owners of enterprises where their voice is heard.
While cooperatives are already playing a role in helping young people take their lives into their own hands, he said, there is great potential for development.
His most misunderstood cooperative society dubbed Kalumbila Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd has been tirelessly working with the founder of Jochi Genuine Millionaires Movement Ltd in creating jobs for local youths and women.
The movement in which he is Chief Brand Ambassador only started operations last year and has since helped not less than 195 cooperative societies run as businesses.
From last year, 52 jobs have been created and these are both formal and informal jobs. Graduates from the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University and agricultural colleges from around the nation have been employed.
Mr Chilekwa said that this year alone, the cooperative movement is looking forward to creating more than 800 jobs from the poultry project and this will be done without fail and that is just before June.
He encouraged youths, men and women to come up with ideas that would create jobs for the many suffering Zambians.
He believes, this would reduce pressure on government dependent jobs. He also urged Zambian citizens to adhere to the call by President Hichilema to Zambians to form cooperatives and companies.
He said entrepreneurship if well embraced would accelerate the economic revolution which is a must be done for Zambia. Apart from poultry, Mr Chilekwa together with his business partner Dr. Joseph Mushalika has embarked on a commercial farming project in Chibombo.
“This is a K3, 000, 000 on equipment alone and so far through Ubuntu the team has managed to secure funds. This project shall sit on a 19-Hectare piece of land with five boreholes, four water reservoirs, overhead irrigation, centre pivots, drip irrigation, microjet irrigation and sprinklers.
This project has international consultants from an Israeli company called Green 2000 LTD. He said gone will be the days when centre pivots were only associated with the Ba Zungus,” he said
He said he is proud of the commercial farm in that, it shall create a lot of formal and informal jobs for the people of Chibombo. Mr Mambwe said all workers for their company shall not get anything as a salary below the minimum wage.
He has urged all Zambians to supplement the efforts of the government in creating jobs if the high poverty levels being experienced are to be reduced.
In Siavonga on Lake Kariba, he said, his Ubuntu movement is beginning to keep 1, 050, 000 Fingerings in 30 Cages of Fish. This too shall create both formal and informal jobs for the youth and women of Siavonga.
Indeed, if Zambia has to move forward, it is cardinal embrace creative and innovative people like Chilekwa Mambwe.

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