« 100 Years – 100 Lives » | ZAMBIA - “I hope to further expand my company to offer more jobs for young people in my community”

What started as a dream for 28-year-old Abraham Susiku has now become a lucrative agri-business partly thanks to an ILO project.

Feature | Zambia | 09 October 2019
MUKONCHI – 28-year-old Abraham Susiku is among the few Zambian youths who have been supported by the joint ILO-FAO Yapasa programme designed to promote agriculture as an employment option for rural youths.

The project provided him with the necessary funding to start a business. Thanks to this, the graduate in agricultural chemistry and soil science was able to set-up his own agri-business called Wamis Agro Seed Enterprise.

“My aim was not only to free myself from poverty, but also to provide employment opportunities to unemployed youths,” he explained.

However, his journey to prosperity has not been without hurdles, especially at the beginning.

Located 56 kilometres from Kabwe District in Mukonchi area, Abraham’s soyabeans seed production business was seen as a non-starter.

“People would say: young man, stop wasting your time and wait. We tried, and we failed. Who are you to think you will make it?” he recalled.

“When they look at you as a young person engaging in agri-business, everybody assumes that you are naïve, and you don’t understand reality,” he added.

However, Susiku stopped listening and moved on. But he still had to find the money to start his activity.

“Potential investors were willing to listen to me but once they realized that I was a youth and lacked experience, they were put-off,” he said.

After learning that ILO through the Yapasa Project was calling for workable business proposals in the agri-business sector, Abraham submitted his application in 2016.

Financial backing

The project asked for some changes to his initial plans but gave him the financial backing he was waiting for.

The project also followed him, advising him at each stage of his business development, provided support in form of consultative services at every stage. It also offered linkages to input credit, and offered financial and technical support to train seed growers/farmers in agronomic practices as well as business.

After a successful yield during the 2016-2017 agricultural season, the company doubled the number of seed growers for the following season. In addition, from only supporting seed production, Wamis also extended the business to farmers that grew soybeans and maize.

For aggregation, the Yapasa project supported the enterprise with warehouse equipment (scales, sieves, moisture metres and tents) for his business to meet the quality and quantity requirement of large companies.

Employment opportunities

Susiku is now married with one child. He currently has five aggregation centres managed by young people within the farming communities and has worked with 1500 young women and men either as suppliers of maize, soyabeans or as seed growers.

Through seed growing and aggregation, Abraham was able to make enough profits to buy a tractor, a pick up vehicle, and a 50 hectares’ farm to help grow his agribusiness.

“I hope to further expand my company so that I can also offer more jobs for young people in our farming community. Another objective for me is to start packing my seed using my own brand,” he concluded,

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