How James Kayivwa and Colleagues started Shimu Construction Company in Solwezi, Zambia

James Kayivwa, based in Solwezi, Zambia, has had passion for entrepreneurship since childhood. He learnt about the construction business through his brother-in-law, a Civil Engineer. Due to lack of funding for tertiary education, James decided to look for a job which he successfully found in the telecommunications industry as a casual worker. Whilst working as a casual worker, James responded to an internal advert for a security personnel position as it was offering better pay which could later enable him raise funds to pursue his entrepreneurship ambitions. After a period of time, Mr Kayivwa registered a Sole Trading company in Kitwe for the sole purpose of buying and selling of cars. Unfortunately, this particular business could not take off because of lack of enough start-up capital. After his retrenchment, James relocated to Solwezi where he found a job in the mines as a security personnel. In this new position of his, James operated and monitored security cameras and geotabs for the trucks that transported copper concentrate. Through this job in the mines, Mr Kayivwa was exposed to and learnt a lot about different professions in the mines.

After working in the mines for some time, James got a loan from the bank, bought a blockmaking machine and started making blocks for sale. The block making business was as a result of a short supply of concrete blocks in North- Western Province in comparison with the demand. He would market his business both online and offline by way of sticking posters around the district. Whilst running this particular business, James faced challenges in terms of high cost of raw materials such as quarry dust and inconsistent power supply due to loadshedding. He thereafter decided to collaborate with his friend Chris, the Founder of Shimu Construction Company Limited, with the hope of building capacity. Chris is a Carpenter by profession and also does metal fabrication and bricklaying.

Shimu Construction Company Limited was founded on the premise that the need for skills development in construction and proper housing keeps increasing. They are part of the Chamber of Commerce, a platform that gives them opportunities such as open tenders though they are very competitive. Last year they managed to get a contract to construct a maternity wing in Kasempa through the same platform. Shimu is also registered with the Lumwana Business Association, a platform where business opportunities are shared. The company is registered with the National Council for Construction in Grade 6 for mining and general building. They have done a number of projects for both institutions and individuals. The slideshow above shows some of their works.

“Meeting regulatory requirements for business operations is very costly for us small businesses, said James”.

James also mentioned that as a company, they look forward to incorporating skills training as there is a huge demand for skills in North- Western Province. However, they can only do this once they get accreditation with TEVETA, meanwhile, they are on the lookout for trainers in various skills such as bricklaying. They also look forward to partnering with other companies in different fields of the construction industry.

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