“We hope to see 1 000 new businesses that we have invested in”

SIMP Africa participant Simunza Muyangana is Director of Entrepreneurship at BongoHive, Zambia’s first innovation hub. It supports growing businesses that can have a positive impact on society.

What is your vision and which are the challenges you want to address?
– There are almost no early stage funds in Zambia that invest in early stage Zambian companies. This is a challenge we would like to resolve. Over the past three years we have been building a pipeline of companies that will have impact on our society and grow to address unemployment and other challenges in our country. Our long-term vision is a company that works across Southern Africa, and we hope to see at least 1 000 new and growing businesses that we will have invested in.
– I’m driven by the goal to help people start businesses and grow through that. I think the next level of growth in our country is to not just have attained political freedom, now we need to attain economic freedom. I’m passionate about playing a part in doing this by being part of the private sector. We tend to think that if I want to do good, I need to start a not-for-profit organisation. But we say that you can start a business that can also have good impact, a business that is sustainable.

Why did you apply to SIMP?
– Wanting to become a better leader in the business that I run, to become a better communicator, and to understand and pass on the knowledge of how to build businesses with sustainable impact. Our company has existed seven years and over that period of time we have grown. We started off with three people and now have 16, so you become very aware of your need to become a better leader. Also having a management programme that also addresses sustainability – I became curious about that.

Has SIMP helped you to level up as a change maker? How?
– It has. It has helped me understand the communications framework in which to work with people. You need to be able to listen, to understand where people come from, and be able to give them feedback that helps them grow. It has also been helpful with regard to exposing me and the other participants to practical examples of businesses that have been designed to address problems in society, but are full-on businesses. And also in how corporations that already exist can take a step back and look at the role they have in society.

Have you already benefited from the SIMP network?
– I’ve met amazing people here. There are people I’m already talking to, to see if we can work together, and people I know now that I can pick up a Skype call to. It’s also people from my own country. Getting to know them a lot better has been amazing, and talking about things that are happening in our countries and what we can do. We’re busy with our lives, and here we have dedicated time to talk to one another.

Read more about the Swedish Institute Management Programme Africa (SIMP) here.