International nonprofit TechnoServe has accepted funds worth US$36mn from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to support the implementation of the Food Enterprises for a Developed (FED) Zambia programme from 2020-2023
The project is aimed at strengthening the food processing sector, generating economic opportunities for women, and creating jobs. This will be done through customised technical assistance, sector-wide training, and improved access to finance for food processors.
In Zambia, there are about 1,500 food processing businesses, which generate approximately 60% of the country’s total manufacturing output. However, most of these food processors are small and face a number of challenges related to manufacturing processes, marketing, sourcing of raw materials, access to finance, and adopting technology.
To support growth in the sector despite these challenges, the FED project will work hand-in-hand with 100 food processing firms, delivering tailored assistance to address the firms, most significant technical and business challenges. FED will administer an in-kind grants fund so that processors can obtain certification, access equipment, and build stronger market connections.
Susanna Hughes, head of bilateral development cooperation for the Embassy of Sweden, said, “Women play a vital role in the food processing sector and run many of the small firms that provide flour and edible oil to base-of-the-pyramid consumers and informal markets. At least half of the businesses participating in the FED programme will be owned by women, and women will also make up at least half of the attendees in the sector-wide training and receive at least half of the grants disbursed through the programme. Sweden believes that strengthening the lives of women and youth through financial inclusion is crucial. We know that women are more likely to be financially excluded than men.”
Chileshe Chilangwa, TechnoServe’s country director for Zambia and Malawi, said, “Through our work over the last decade to support processors in Zambia and across Africa, we’ve seen that strong food companies can have a lasting impact on livelihoods, employment, and nutrition. We’re excited to partner with SIDA to help small and medium-sized businesses in the sector drive inclusive growth and generate new opportunities.”