Salima Lungu launched her business, C&S Agro, in 2011 in the Chibombo District of Zambia. Now, a decade later, she runs three more shops in the Kembe and Shimukuni areas of Chibombo District selling agricultural inputs, veterinary products, and farm implements. Salima also engages in aggregation, poultry rearing, and horticulture and offers tillage services to farmers in her community.
Despite her success, Salima faced challenges finding buyers who could pay her instantly, especially for the white maize she supplied as an ingredient for animal feed production. As an aggregator, Salima bought maize from different farmers and combined it to meet the supply quantities needed by buyers. If buyers took too long to pay her, she wouldn’t have cash on-hand to buy enough maize to meet the quantities needed, and farmers would sell their crops to other aggregators who offered cash.
“The buyers I was supplying to used to take five working days to pay me for the maize supplied, and that affected my aggregation activities.” – Salima Lungu, owner of C&S Agro and Edge Activity participant
Salima found a solution to this problem after attending a business-to-business (B2B) exchange organized by the USAID Enterprise Development and Growth Enhanced (EDGE) Activity. The EDGE Activity, implemented by ACDI/VOCA, connects small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like Salima’s with end buyers and creates spaces for networking and trade among smallholder producers and larger businesses. Through B2B exchanges, the EDGE Activity is building a culture of trust and mutual support among SMEs to improve their access to markets and financial opportunities.
Salima joined the exchange virtually and learned about a company called Farmfeed. Farmfeed, a partner of the EDGE Activity, specializes in livestock feed production. “I had no idea that there was such a company until I attended a virtual information session,” Salima said. Soon after this connection was made, she supplied Farmfeed with 30 tons of white maize and earned ZMW 90,000.
“The transaction with Farmfeed was different from the other buyers, as I was paid instantly, and, with the money realized, I was able to continue aggregating more maize, which I sold to another buyer.” – Salima Lungu, owner of C&S Agro and Edge Activity participant
With the income Salima earned from her deal with Farmfeed, she purchased a 35-hectare farm, where she grew onions and cabbage to diversify her revenue streams. She also used the earnings to install a solar irrigation system. Salima hopes to harvest about 3,000 bags of onions weighing 10 kilograms and valued at ZMW 390,000 and 7,500 heads of cabbages valued at ZMW 45,000.
To support Salima and others like her, the EDGE Activity has been conducting virtual and in-person B2B meetings with potential off-takers and agrodealers. This flagship approach has improved network input and output relationships, connected SMEs with financing opportunities, and paired SMEs with the appropriate technical assistance and service providers to support their growth.
This article was originally published by ACDI/VOCA.