Agricultural small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Zambia face numerous challenges as they strive to increase productivity, grow profits, and create jobs. Bernard Moza, an agriculture input entrepreneur, has struggled to expand his horticulture business, Paywell Logistics, which he founded in 2000.
At first, Bernard grew his business rapidly by supplying agriculture chemicals and offering consultancy services to farmers. With this growth, the company introduced a vegetable seedling nursery program in 2002. However, to meet the demand of his customers, Bernard realized he would need to invest in a second greenhouse and solar water pump.
In April 2021, Bernard attended an information session organized by the USAID Zambia Enterprise Development and Growth Enhanced (EDGE) Activity, implemented by ACDI/VOCA. The EDGE Activity, which will operate from 2020 to 2025, aims to increase agricultural SMEs’ access to finance by strengthening the ability of banks and microfinance institutions to serve them and by catalyzing the growth of non-bank financial institutions. The EDGE Activity has formed many partnerships to help build the capacity of SMEs like Bernard’s and to enable banks and institutions to develop loan and investment products tailored to the financial needs of SMEs. The EDGE Activity also aims to boost the competitiveness of SMEs by strengthening their management and marketing capacities and improving their input and output relationships.
The ongoing information sessions offered by the EDGE Activity create opportunities to build important SME knowledge, awareness, and capacities across many agriculture- and finance-related needs. They also help enhance the productivity and profitability of SMEs by fostering linkages with equipment providers and innovative technology suppliers.
Each session introduces SMEs to some of the EDGE Activity’s core partners, who present their portfolio of products and services. One such partner was Rent-to-Own (RTO), a pay-as-you-go equipment subsidy provider. During the session, Bernard learned of the benefits of RTO and decided to obtain a solar water pump from the company on flexible repayment terms.
By partnering with providers like RTO, the EDGE Activity creates a platform for providing agricultural SMEs that operate within EDGE Activity-supported value chains with more affordable, privileged access to credit in the form of equipment and climate-smart technologies.
“I realized that through these linkages and information sessions, in particular, I would obtain the agro equipment I needed. As you know, that aspect of agriculture is very expensive when you negotiate on your own. I was linked to RTO, and, within five days, I purchased a water pump meeting my specifications on flexible payment terms that the company installed at my farm.”— Bernard Moza, agricultural business owner and EDGE Activity participant
According to Bernard, the pump will cut production costs that he would have incurred using a hydroelectricity-powered water pump from roughly ZMK 100,000 to ZMK 30,000 a month. The pump will also help him increase his production of tomato seedlings from 250,000 to 300,000 seedlings per planting. Bernard expects employment levels to increase to about 100 staff, as the company expands its number of greenhouses.
“From the first planting, we will be able to meet a lot of our customers’ demands. This is the reason why we needed a lot of water, hence procuring the solar water pump.”— BERNARD MOZA, AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS OWNER AND EDGE ACTIVITY PARTICIPANT
Dickson Mubuyaeta, an RTO sales manager, said the company plans to provide services to SMEs in partnership with the EDGE Activity not only through outright purchases but also through flexible payment terms because they know that SMEs have many other production costs.
Learn more about the USAID Zambia Enterprise Development and Growth Enhanced (EDGE) Activity.
Learn more about our work in Zambia.