Capital has always been the single most vexing problem confronting most Zambians intending to enter the business world.
Well qualified Zambians endowed with skills and capital find themselves trapped in employment because they cannot raise the requisite finance to enter the field in their own capacities.
It is common knowledge that banks find it very difficult to lend money to Zambians. This can be attributed to bad experiences with failed businesses. There is also the proverbial belief that Zambians are bad payers.
These are of course very dangerous generalizations that have perpetuated a culture that has disadvantaged Zambians from many business prospects.
That is why we are greatly cheered by the Minister of Mines, Mr. Christopher Yaluma who has revealed that an initiative for policy review with regard to bank support to mining ventures is being undertaken.
There is no justification whatever for foreigners to come and mine, mine dumps in Zambia, when we have Zambians with decades of mining and indeed refining experience which, if fully supported with appropriate assets, will stand them in very good stead.
Very often unfortunately, good intentions and good plans fail due to the lack of commitment and support from those who have the power and wherewithal to make that critical difference that challenges and propels the Zambian entrepreneur to reach for higher heights of attainment.
It is not surprising therefore that we have foreign investors in such fields as security, small scale manufacturing and other menial activities which if given a chance Zambians would excel but alas they must watch and wait to be employed by foreigners, who can walk into any bank, and without any collateral to speak of, obtain funding.
Our colleagues from China are even more advantaged because they do not have to search far for performance bonds and access to other project finance which is often made available through their banks.
This is possible because their government is determined to make them succeed. That is why equal determination must be shown by our Government through appropriate agencies, including the Zambia Development Agency, which must establish some form of hands on consultancy services that draw on local and expatriate expertise to ensure that nascent and fledgling business ventures are supported not just with finance but with technical expertise.
Without such support we shall continue to lament, mourn and stare jealously as foreign entrepreneurs of all shades continue to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that our country offers in mining, tourism and agriculture and a host of other service industries.
The most effective and lasting answer to this problem will be to create an appropriate business nursery that will seek out and identify and mobilize all the forward and backward linkages that will give value to the many primary products that we produce in this country.
Such a nursery will identify human capital emerging from our universities and from industry to create business opportunities rather than wait for these young men and women to find employment.
Time is now for Government to move and move expeditiously.