Meet our team leader Mukala

How long have you been working at Impact Enterprises?

Mukala Mukala - 27 years

Mukala Mukala – 27 years

I’ve been here since 7 months.

What IT skills did you learn here at Impact Enterprises?

I mainly learned project management and task delegation here. If you asked me about IT specifically, then I would say I learned how to work with programmes in the cloud such as Google docs etc.

What are your future goals professionally?

No matter what I do, I hope to make an impact, a significant contribution for the nation. I don’t know yet what way I will take but hopefully it will be significant enough to make a difference. Maybe one day I will have my own IT company.

How is working at Impact Enterprise helping you towards your goals?

I am in charge of a team and I am responsible for different projects. That helps me to learn manager skills, to organise and delegate tasks and I hope that this will help me for the future.

What was your most memorable experience at Impact Enterprises?

The happiest times are when we have returning clients. That means they were happy with our work.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about the possibilities of information technology for developing countries like ours. Every day I try to look at what is trending in the IT sector globally and see in which ways IT can make a contribution.

Tell us something you love about Zambia

I think we have a lot of potential. We are right now in a state of transition. A lot of the older leaders are phasing out and new generations of people come up. Most of them now understand what it takes to build a nation and if everyone takes charge, then we can make great contributions. Zambia is my country. Despite the numerous challenges we still have to go through, I mainly feel love for Zambia.

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How Investment in Internet is Changing Africa

Information and communication technology is driving the new “knowledge-based” economy in the developed and developing world. However, internet access remains comparatively low in Africa, with internet penetration at 20% for the continent.

The barriers to internet usage are many, including the high cost and lack of access, and for those who do have internet access it can be unreliable and slow. Zambia is no different, with an internet penetration rate of 16% for its population of 14 million people. Even worse, 75% of users are only in the capital city of Lusaka.

This creates obstacles for the small and medium enterprises and start-ups in the region, such as us at Impact Enterprises. Beyond just the price tag of getting reliable access, online services are rarely available making simple tasks cumbersome. Online payments and services are costly and rarely available and ecommerce is practically non-existent.

Countries are beginning to see that low internet adoption is becoming a hindrance to their economies, with 140 countries creating a specific broadband plan, compared to just 15 in 2005. As a result, many African countries, including Zambia, are looking to develop their fiber optic networks.

Expansion in Zambia

Internet in Zambia traces back to the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), which has provided power supply to the Copperbelt mining region of northern Zambia and southern Congo since the 1950s. Investment in the telecom infrastructure of the region eventually led to a joint partnership with Liquid Telecom Group to provide retail internet services.

Today, CEC Liquid Telecom is one of the largest companies contributing to fiber optic development in the region, which plans to lay 18,000 kilometers of cable on the continent by the end of 2015. The Zambia Electric Supply Corporation (ZESCO), the country’s power utility company, itself had installed 5,300 km of fiber network in the country by the end of 2013.

These investments have already led to great benefits. In February 2015, Liquid Telecom announced the launch of its Fiber to the Home (FTTH) service, which provides broadband services to homes and businesses. The new network means individuals gain access to unlimited data packages at speeds up to 10 Mbps with prices less than one fifth of the current available broadband options.

Success in Unusual Places

The increased fiber network and increased access has great potential to impact the local economy. By bringing data packages to homes and small business, it fosters the environment for the development of the technology sector in the economy.

According to a report by McKinsey on the impact of internet on developing countries, SMEs that leverage the internet have higher growth, higher profits, and productivity gains of 5-19%. Furthermore, for every job lost due to internet innovation, 3.2 new jobs are created.

Believe it or not, no place has demonstrated this potential better than Rwanda. Yes, that Rwanda.

20 years ago, the small east African country experienced one of the worst humanitarian events in history. Out of the ashes of the genocide emerged a well-organized economic restoration led by their visionary president, Paul Kagame. In cooperation with foreign governments, NGOs, and consultants, Rwanda laid out a clear plan for its future called Vision 2020.

A major chapter of the plan recognizes how critical ICT is for a country to compete in today’s world. Through major investment in infrastructure and partnerships, their telecom companies now provide coverage to 99.8% of the country, with user penetration predicted to be 95% by 2016. The capital, Kigali, even offers free WiFi across the entire city.

That’s an astounding accomplishment, considering the state of the nation just two decades ago. As a result of these reforms, Rwanda now ranks 3rd in Africa on the Doing Business rankings and is becoming a tech hub for entrepreneurs.

Looking at Zambia’s Future

The value that investing in the telecom network has on the economy is not lost on the Zambian government. The Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) acting Director General, Mulenga Chisanga, stated recently, “Broadband services would ease the way of doing business in the country and add value to the economy. There is therefore need for industries to embrace broadband services to complete on a global level to grow their businesses.”

According to the McKinsey report, governments need to focus on three types of initiatives – promoting access and literacy, creating a favorable regulatory environment, and e-government services. These all face challenges, including massive investments in curriculums and equipment and receiving pushback from incumbent parties who will be disrupted by change. But the benefits far outweigh the costs.

For us at Impact Enterprises, we are fully embracing the digital age in pioneering socially conscious outsourcing here in Zambia. The developments happening today are laying the foundation for success, but there is still a long way to go. Through our work, we hope to demonstrate the amazing potential the internet age has to offer the brilliant youth of this country and hope that will inspire a cohesive vision for the future.

Five Question Friday – Meet Catherine

How long have you been working at Impact Enterprises?

Catherine Zulu - 22 years old

Catherine Zulu – 22 years old

1 year and 8 months.

What IT skills did you learn here at Impact Enterprises?

Depending on the project I am working on, I learn different things. On one of the projects I’ve learned a lot on Excel. On another project, I’ve learned listening skills. Listening to other people is very important.

What are your future goals?

I did Banking & Finance in college for 2 years to get my diploma. I would love to work in this area, but it’s very hard to find a job. Therefore I want to continue my studies to obtain my full degree in Banking & Finance.

How is working at Impact Enterprise helping you towards your goals?

Working at Impact helps me to save money to continue studying. I also learned leadership skills. I know that in the future, maybe I will be managing other people, so what I learn here from the managers really inspired me and will help me a lot.

What was your most memorable experience at Impact Enterprises?

When I became employee of the month, I was so excited. That month, I worked very hard and did a good job on the projects, so they made me employee of the month.

What are you passionate about?

I love cooking and I would love to learn more, new recipes. I also sing in a church choir. At the moment we prepare for a big concert in one month.

Generation Jobless: How Impact Enterprises Works to Reduce the Skills Gap

Youth unemployment has become a growing problem worldwide, both in developed and developing countries. As the world’s youth population continues to grow in size, there simply aren’t enough jobs to employ them. This led The Economist to dub today’s youth “Generation Jobless.”

According to the United Nations, nearly 3.5 billion people globally are under the age of 27.  One-third are between the ages 15 and 24, of which 600 million are either unemployed, work in the informal sector, or earn less than $2 a day. This means that unemployment for youths is three times higher than for adults.

To make matters worse, the world is facing a huge skills gap. Those leaving school are finding they still lack the skills required by employers. This may be a matter of not having the soft skills to be prepared for the workplace or aren’t being educated in sectors where job creation is happening, such as technology.

This is especially true in Sub-Saharan Africa, where, although literacy rates and school enrollment have increased over the years, many of the schooling systems still promote “rote learning.” This means students are taught to pass exams instead of gain real world workplace skills.

A recent report by JA Worldwide titled Generation Jobless gives five suggestions for helping the youth find employment. These include:

  1. Boost job creation and labor demand
  2. Better prepare young people for the job market
  3. Increase access to career counseling
  4. Improve current and long-term financial literacy
  5. Foster entrepreneurship

This is an undertaking requiring the commitment of governments, employers, educational institutions, civil society organizations, and financial institutions. All these stakeholders play a part in contributing to fighting unemployment.

Here at Impact Enterprises, we’ve taken the initiative to create a solution to this huge problem in Zambia, where the problem is as acute as anywhere. Our mission to create valuable employment for high school and college graduates means we’re not only providing jobs, but also addressing the skills gap that exists in today’s workforce head-on.

For the majority of our employees, working at Impact Enterprises is their first formal job. Through weekly workshops, we teach the soft skills necessary in the workplace to our employees, such as problem solving, creative thinking, teamwork, and communication. We also provide information on life skills such as savings and goal setting. This means that, beyond the hands-on technical skills they gain on the job, they are now better prepared to compete in the digital economy.

We are also engaging stakeholders domestically and abroad to promote job creation here in Zambia. Fostering an active, mutual dialogue about this global issue ensures that everyone is focused on the future. In Zambia, where development and entrepreneurship has been slow, these partnerships are only taking root. But over the last 2 years, we have seen that so many partners, from the universities to foreign embassies to local startup scenes, are committed to changing the prospects of this generation.