From maize to animal farming

Gift, farmer and pastoralist, poses for a photo with his sheep

A young entrepreneur grows his business after receiving training from SNV

At 17-years-old, Gift Mubanga from Zambia was forced to drop out of school to provide food an income for his family. He began growing maize on a small farm and sold it to provide for himself and his family. However, he was only able to harvest once every year; the crop was dependant on rain and the yield was small, it was not enough to meet his family’s needs.

Gift still struggled to make ends meet and remained unemployed, with no prospects and opportunities to grow his small business. Youth unemployment remains a key challenge in Zambia. Youth make up around two thirds of the country’s working-age population and close to a quarter are unemployed. The majority lack the education, training and vocational guidance needed to  match industry needs. In 2020, the estimated youth unemployment rate in Zambia was at 22.63 percent.

To support youth in Zambia find meaningful and sustainable job opportunities, SNV implements the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) project. The programme helps transform communities and the lives of young people – including young women – by providing them with basic life skills and business training and links them to markets and internships. SNV carries out the OYE project in Eastern, Lusaka, Southern, Central and Northern provinces in Zambia.

Gift was introduced to SNV’s OYE in 2020 in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, in a scarcely populated area west of the city. ‘My friend introduced me to OYE. I went for a two-day training in Basic Life Skills and realised I could do so much more to improve my life and that of my family.’ Now at 31-years-old with four children, Gift needed to make a change and support his family.

To increase his yield and income, Gift decided to start rearing goats as it would give him a consistent income compared to maize, which he only harvests yearly. Gift explains that he started with one pregnant goat which gave him one kid. He later bought two more, and they started re-producing – he now has a total of 14 goats. ‘Last year, I went for another training and then bought some guinea fowl eggs but they did not hatch, so I decided to get grown guinea fowls which reproduced and now I have eight birds.’

Gift Mubanga holds a goat in his arms while posing for a photo

Gift Mubanga poses for a photo while holding a goat in his arms.

Gift setting up an area for his goats

Gift setting up an area for his goats to eat and rest.

Gift also joined a savings group through OYE, which enables him to borrow money and invest in his business, ‘I will also save for the future when I can’, he says. He plans to buy more cattle to help him cultivate his field and maybe sell.

As of December 2021, the OYE project supported over 7,500 youth in five provinces across Zambia through SNV’s agriculture, energy, and WASH projects. In 2022, OYE will support more youth through basic life skills, savings and lending groups, and technical training, facilitated by local service providers who mobilise and monitor youth activities.

Written by: Nancy Malama, Communications Officer, SNV in Zambia

Photos: SNV in Zambia