Feature Story

Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Zambia: Youth Leading the Way, Leaving No One Behind

20 March 2017

"Noting the bad state of many Zambian high ways resulting from over-loading on passenger service vehicles, including the resulting increased number of road traffic accidents, I developed a safety feature devise to monitor over-loading on passenger service vehicles, which I am exhibiting today” says Joseph Lungu, aged 24. “This safety feature works in such a way that if a passenger service vehicle is overloaded, the engine will immediately stop and an alert will be sent to the Road Transport and Safety Agency." he says.

A young graduate from the Northern Technical College (NORTEC) in the Copperbelt Province, Joseph won the innovation award of the 2017 Zambia Youth Entrepreneurs and Innovation Forum held ahead of the Natoinal Youth Day on 12 March 2017 under the theme “Unity and Innovation for a smart Zambia”. The forum attracted over 200 young people aged 16-35. It is hoped that the unparalleled networking platform will recognize and build the capacity of young Zambians who have established their own businesses and are contributing to employment and wealth creation in Zambia” said Mr. Kakuwa Musheke, Senior Youth Development Officer in the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

Collaborating to Build the Capacity of Young Innovators and Entrepreneurs


UNFPA in Zambia is scaling up systematic engagement with the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Youth and Sport; as well as with other international and private sector partners to build the capacity of potential young innovators and entrepreneurs. This is based on the acknowledgement that fulfilling the future potentials of young people is a fundamental precondition for sustainable development, which will in turn enable Zambia to attain its vision of becoming a prosperous middle income country by 2030. This economic growth potential is what is known as the demographic dividend, arising mainly from significant investments in young peoples skills development and health, among others.

Ongoing strategic engagements in this regard have included the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); African Development Bank (AfDB); and Ecobank.

Speaking during the 2017 Zambia Youth Entrepreneurs and Innovation Forum, Vice President Ms. Inonge Wina assured Zambian youth that Government will continue supporting and empowering young people with professional, vocational and entrepreneurial skills as essential for sustainable social and economic development in Zambia. “The innovations exhibited by young people across the country today reflect the immense potential of our future generation and leaders, and are in line with Governments’ plans to achieve a strong and diversified economy as part of the 7th National Development Plan,” she said.

UNFPA’s Innovation Accelerator: Solutions for Young People, By Young People


I would like to encourage my fellow youths out there not to be afraid to take a step and share their ideas and innovations. To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act. Joseph Lungu, 24 year old winner of the 2017 Zambia innovation award

In line with UNFPA's global and regional innovation ecosystem aimed at tapping into young entrepreneurs’ creativity for advancing sexual reproductive health, UNFPA in Zambia will in 2017 be rolling out an "Innovation Accelerator" initiative.

What is an Innovation accelerator? Mr Kudakwashe Dube, the UNFPA Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Youth Officer described it as “an initiative aimed at sourcing innovative business solutions to socio-economic challenges faced by young people through  tapping into networks of potential young entrepreneurs and providing them with seed funding, mentorship and technical support to develop scalable and sustainable solutions”. Accelerators end with a public pitch event or ‘demo day’, at which prototypes are presented to potential investors and implementers to facilitate them being scaled-up. The main features are:

  • An application process that is open to all yet highly competitive
  • Provision of pre-seed investment
  • Focus on small teams, not individual founders; and
  • Fixed-term support with training and mentoring.
  • Documentation and knowledge management is conducted throughout the whole process to inform future  innovation accelerators