When you take time to consider just how many small businesses are actively operating around you in your everyday life; you will be very impressed at the amount of time, commitment and even labor that these hard working Zambian entrepreneurs contribute to make their businesses come to life and stay alive.
Even though Zambian entrepreneurs are struggling to provide the local community with quality products and services, many Zambians are quick to flock to foreign chain stores to consume imported products without supporting their local traders or other small local business alternatives.
Whether it’s picking up milk and bread at your local kantemba against going to your nearest foreign outlet; small businesses are overlooked for all the wrong reasons by customers because sometimes customers assume that prices will be higher at a small business as compared to a foreign corporate owned store which is never the case. Sometimes inferiority complex deters them from purchasing local products from local stores because they feel that the branding used is less appealing or the packaging used on local products is less attractive as in the case of Zambian entrepreneur Mubita C. Nawa who’s recently released product image received a lot of unfair criticism and ridicule from Zambians despite being a good step in reducing Zambia’s dependence on imported products.
By neglecting local small businesses, customers dismiss the benefits that many small businesses offer such as one to one customer care, locally produced products, mutual wealth distribution and above all collective community support. However, many of these misconceptions about small local businesses are just misconceptions.
Below are some of the benefits of supporting local enterprises:
1. Locally produced products may actually be healthier than imported products.
Buying local food products has numerous health benefits to you and your family. This is because when you buy from local farmers; you have direct access to fresh fruits and fresh vegetables that you know are chemical free. You are also able to trace the exact source of these foods to inspect and verify easily because it is within your reach. Foreign products however may originate from questionable sources and may be difficulty to trace especially if you have a concern about the manufacturing project.
2. Corporate stores have no control over pricing of most products. Vendors and distributors do:
Corporate stores primarily have no control over a product price but rather are provided a ‘manufactured suggested retail price’ that tells them the price the product should be sold at. Thereafter the store hikes the suggested retail price to add a profit markup and cover up costs such as storage, marketing and refrigeration. Over time, if the product doesn’t sell or a store has a promotional event taking place, then the price may be lowered. But generally speaking, vendors and distributors want their products sold at their suggested rates, therefore retailers such as chain stores are not encouraged to lower product prices unless this has been discussed and arranged in advance.
3. Locally manufactured products are not always available in foreign stores.
Smaller traders have more access to local vendors and distributors as compared to big stores; therefore if you need an item and it’s not available in a big store, it’s likely that you will find that item at your nearest corner shop. This is because local producers do not have capacity to supply and service large stores therefore they initially serve small businesses that have lesser requirements and restrictions. This does not comprise quality however this is done to get in touch with the local vendors right away and try and get orders for demanding customers right away. Most small store owners are eager to go an extra mile in order to get good customer service support to their community clients.
4. Supporting local business creates more employment and more wealth for all to share.
When a customer buys locally produced products, more of that money stays in the community. A Chicago study found that for every $100 spent at a local business in the U.S.A, $68 remained in the city while only $32 leaves the city. Small businesses drive the macro-environment of the country. Whenever Zambians buy from a local trader they provide that business with financial resources to expand the business, with more money the local business will improve their products and in turn this will mean the business will attract more customers. With more customers buying products, local companies have more money to engage local people with work and employment. This is expansion and requires more people in the company. As more people buy local products; they enable local companies to have the capacity to employ other Zambians who graduate and are seeking employment, the employed Zambians have income which they spend within their community. With income people are able to educate and feed their families.