Jessy’s Story: A Taste of Success in Zambia
“I am passionate about cooking and I taught myself how to cook. I also teach my staff. I buy local products and have a farmer who grows certain ingredients especially for me,” says Jessy Chipindo, restaurant owner and client of Oikocredit partner Entrepreneurs Financial Centre Zambia.
Life hasn’t always been easy for Jessy. Despite some serious setbacks in her personal life, a combination of her unwavering ambition to succeed and her creative culinary skills have seen her catering business go from strength to strength.
Jessy’s message to women entrepreneurs from all backgrounds is that you can overcome adversity and succeed in business if you have the self-belief.
“My ambition is to run the first fun fine-dining restaurant in Zambia, proving that you can achieve great things, even if you are female and young. I am now working on a new restaurant in an art gallery.”
Jessy has been a client of Oikocredit partner Entrepreneurs Financial Centre Zambia (EFC Zambia) since 2017. She is justifiably proud when she talks about the growth of her business. But what were the barriers on the way to such success and how did she overcome them?
She left school hoping to find work in the hospitality sector, and by the time she was 19 she was working as a guest house manager. However, any plans of professional advancement were put on hold shortly afterwards.
“I had to postpone my career when my sister fell ill. I took care of her until she died and I am now taking care of her children. In 2011 I became a cashier in a casino; with the money I earned I started my own catering company in 2012,” Jessy explains.
Working from home until 2014 she decide to specialise in cakes. People loved her food from the heart and by 2014 she had opened her own breakfast and lunch café.
Supporting small businesses
A business needs money to run, and financial help allowing Jessy to grow her catering business was to prove vital. Before joining EFC (like many small-scale entrepreneurs in Zambia) she struggled to get a loan from traditional banks.
This is where financial institutions like EFC Zambia play an important role. Oikocredit partnered with EFC in 2017 as its social mission aligns with that of its own.
EFC’s mission is to have a positive impact on the development of Zambia but particularly support micro-,small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the country’s low-income earners.
Loans to entrepreneurs
EFC Zambia’s main loan product names speak for themselves: the Market Women Trader's loan, MSME's Loan, Home Improvement Loan and Easy Pay. The financial institution also provides its clients with savings products such as the Micro Savings Account.
EFC focuses on women entrepreneurs and small traders, recognising their influence on economic activity and their high potential for development impact. In addition, it aims to support small businesses in the agriculture and renewable energy sectors which fits properly with Oikocredit’s own focus areas.
Caroline Mulwa, Oikocredit’s Investment Manager for East Africa explains: “EFC Zambia is one of Oikocredit’s pioneer partners in Zambia. Focusing on micro and SME clients, EFC provides loans to entrepreneurs who are financially excluded, helping them to grow and improve their livelihoods.
Jessy’s story is a remarkable demonstration of what an individual can do to change their circumstances, with determination, hard work and the opportunity to access financial services.”
EFC’s CEO, Bedah Salasini explains: “EFC is driven by the belief that access to finance plays an important role in business growth. We are passionate increasing access to specialised financial services in Zambia. We aim to reinvent microfinance by offering flexible terms and creating unique opportunities for our clients.”
So what happened to Jessy’s business? With her own restaurant, she needed capital and chose EFC because they were welcoming and flexible. Jessy explains: “It is difficult for a small start-up to get a loan from a traditional bank. The loan I obtained from EFC enabled me to finish the renovation of my restaurant and buy more furniture.”
A combination of timely financial support and very hard work has seen Jessy achieve her dreams of growing her business significantly. She now employs 32 people in the restaurant and even provides outside catering.
Jessy’s latest venture is something about which she is very excited: “I was inspired by Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver and I have just finished recording a pilot episode for my own Zambian cooking TV show!”
Jessy Chipindo’s breakthrough into television speaks volumes about her cooking skills, her self-belief and her determination to succeed. A true ‘taste of success.’