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By Alick

It’s 7am and my daily routine begins. I’m running late to make my own breakfast, so I figure I’ll grab a bite on the way. I ask myself, ‘should I get doughnuts and coffee from the new international chain store that just opened or should I go kuli ‘Ba Mike’ pa corner’, like I have always done in the past. I need my newspaper too. Should I get it from the young guy at the corner or at the huge chain bookstore that just opened in my neighbourhood. These are the choices most consumers are faced with in rapidly urbanising cities around Zambia.

Now many of us like to measure a city’s success in terms of the number of new international brands that are flocking to our malls or the new and posh international nightclubs that give us that ‘Ibiza feel’. But does “success” mean having a stronger business and commercial environment that typically attracts chain store businesses, even if this means pushing out locally owned, smaller stores because of higher rents and the purchasing power of the bigger chains? Or does success mean slow growth of local businesses and the lower costs breeding innovation and creativity among the locals to satisfy their own needs.

Well I say success is right in the middle. While having a community of totally locally owned business is beneficial (See: - 10 reasons why you should buy local). However, a lack of chain stores may signify an area with relatively poor business conditions.

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On the other hand chain stores have their benefits too. They are able to pay higher taxes and higher rent fees than locally owned businesses. They bring a variety of products otherwise inaccessible to the community except through costly long distance orders. They have their downsides too. They have limited ties to the community and most of the time no long-term commitment to the community. They may disappear just as quickly as they appeared with no regard for their consumers whatsoever.

Having seen both sides of the coin, what next? Well in a rapidly urbanising country like Zambia, we have been wooed by the glitter of these big international brands to the detriment of our beloved locally owned stores. It seems our spending culture is towards the extremes to the point of even shunning local businesses and avoiding them altogether as mediocre. This is the point of this movement‼ Not to make us shun international brands but to encourage us to maintain this balance and keep our local businesses alive; the businesses that will grow and employ our children, build our schools, broaden our tax revenue and ultimately develop our economy from the inside out.

This is why we believe in #BuyingZambian and #SupportLocalBusiness. We want to see real changes in our communities. 

Thanks for reading‼


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