Zambian banks demand substantial collateral and charge high interest rates for loans, so local women are increasingly turning to informal lending cooperatives, called village banking, for loans large and small. The groups operate on trust, but the high volume of money outside the formal banking sector comes with risks.
An earlier strategy of tailoring education to help students gain white-collar jobs wasn’t working, because there were only so many of those to go around. Since 2014, the government has tried another approach – skills-based learning – in an effort to curb widespread unemployment among the youth.
Despite Zambia’s ban on the vending of live poultry by traders from other countries, Chinese migrants are boosting their sales of broiler chickens at prices lower than Zambians’. Zambian farmers lack money and other resources, says a representative of the Poultry Association of Zambia, which is combating the problem by training small-scale Zambian farmers and lobbying for government loans to assist them.
Farmers produce most of the country's maize, a staple, but say irregular rainfall, pests, export taxes and cuts in the price that the government sets for the crop have forced changes. "We are not into farming for fun but to make a living," one farmer says, while the government assures that no shortages will occur.
The Zambian GDP depends on foreign direct investment in mining, retail and other industries, which support the country’s growing middle class. But as the middle class turns to new and comfortable supermarkets for their grocery shopping, Zambia’s local food vendors feel left behind.