Nearly 15 years of strong growth has resulted in Zambia becoming a middle-income country. Yet levels of poverty have remained intractably high (60.5% in 2010). A major reason why growth has not resulted in greater reduction in poverty levels is because economic growth remains narrowly based. Leading industries such as mining, construction, transport, storage, and communications and financial services dramatically outperform the rest of the economy and account for the majority of growth.

Furthermore, these industries tend to be highly capital intensive and so fail to contribute significantly to job creation.

This means that growth benefits only a small part of the economy.

The Private Enterprise Programme-Zambia (PEPZ) is a £13.9 million, five-year programme funded by DFID that aims to build the capability of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in order to deliver inclusive economic growth by creating jobs and diversifying the economy.

PEPZ aims to achieve these goals by addressing underlying market failures through an integrated approach involving four components:

  1. Impact Investment
  2. Business Linkage Programme (BLP)
  3. Business Development Services (BDS)
  4. Business Plan Competition (BPC).

Having successfully completed the six month inception phase of the programme, the implementation phase of PEPZ started in October 2014. Thus far, under the BLP component, over 20 Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with Anchor companies and numerous MSME supplier diagnostics are underway.

The BDS launched its first call for proposals early in 2015 and received 35 proposals.

The first round of the BPC ( was launched in March 2015.

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