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Mukala Mukala is the Director of Project Operations and Peter Mfune is the HR Director & Project Managerof Impact Enterprises International, Inc. headquartered in New York City and Chipata, Zambia. Follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn and learn more at impactenterprises.org.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Mukala: Our company, Impact Enterprises, is a socially-conscious outsourcing provider based in Zambia that supports startups in their growth prospects by providing such services as data enrichment, content moderation, and lead generation. This allows our clients to focus on their core services and growth. Through our model, we are able to provide jobs for recent high school and college graduates in Zambia to kickstart their careers or earn an income to further their education, who would otherwise spend years being unemployed and not acquiring the skills needed.
I personally oversee all client projects and manage a team of project leaders who directly administer projects on a daily basis.
Peter: My role is to build and maintain a positive workplace culture and initiate effective downward and upward communication at the company. This involves maintaining discipline, especially within the laws of the land, and holding employees responsible for their actions to ensure smooth operations and quality work getting done for our clients.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY DOES THE WORLD NEED YOU?
Mukala: Operating in a country with around 50% of recent graduates being unemployed, Impact Enterprises plays an important role in helping provide gainful employment and much-needed career development for the young people we recruit. Our employees work on projects for startups based across Europe and the United States and use the earnings that they make to support their families, start small businesses, and further their education.
Peter: The skills they attain are not only essential for their educational advancement, but they also help them build a foundation for their careers. This gives these youths something productive to do, saving them from indulging in alcohol, smoking, and other vices all thanks to Impact Enterprises.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Mukala: Through my work with Impact Enterprises, we have been able to create jobs for 200+ young people in Chipata, in Eastern Zambia. The different skills the team learns while working at Impact has proven helpful and has created a competitive advantage for them when they move on to other challenges such as further education or other jobs.
Peter: We are changing lives by providing sustainable employment to graduates and training them in various disciplines and life skills. Not only does this help them perform their job with excellence, but it’s also helpful outside the company. We are a stepping stone to their next big thing.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Mukala: I am inspired by the need to not only provide gainful employment to the many unemployed young graduates but also to help them change mindsets and cultures, especially as it relates to work culture. I am inspired by the fact that these promising young people will end up learning and encompassing the right values. They will then use these same values to make a meaningful contribution in the businesses, organizations and government departments they will work in and will help, in a small way, in transforming the country.
Peter: With the levels of unemployment in the country, youth do not have plenty of opportunities to do something good with their lives. They are given to alcohol and drug abuse, early marriages, even prostitution, just to get by. And being able to change and open one’s mind to think, “there is more out there,” “I am better than this,” “I can also do that,” is so inspiring.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM, FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Mukala: My big dream is to see the company grow beyond Chipata and into other parts of the country, so we can impact even more young people and provide the same opportunities we already have for more than 200 young people.
Peter: And I want to train as many people as possible – be a good leader by developing a remarkable character with diligence and integrity.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THAT DREAM COME TRUE?
Mukala: The most important resource we need is a better-prepared crop of young people who are willing to embrace the opportunity we are providing and run with it and excel as much as possible and move on to other opportunities or grow with the company into other more challenging roles. In the last few years, I’m seeing that the graduates from high schools have been far more knowledgeable about ICT skills, and I believe this trend will continue to grow. For a business like ours, an improvement in education is a major plus.
Peter: I think the resources and tools needed are mostly available, the biggest resource being the internet. What’s lacking is increased use of it – researching more, reading more articles, getting information on processes and tools. The more knowledgeable the population is, the more efficient they are in performing tasks and conducive to training to produce quality work.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Mukala: The major challenge has been the work culture from some of the team members. Something that we have been working on to address this is moving people who are not a fit out of the office quickly so that they don’t impact the rest of the team negatively.
Peter: Regrouping and starting again when things don’t go to plan has been a challenge which I’ve had to deal with a few times. Focusing on the bigger picture and what impact we can end up making on a new generation of young people brings that energy back.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Mukala: To make any meaningful impact in a good number of cases means navigating a few cases of failures – things that don’t work as anticipated. The most important thing is to believe in the impact you intend to make and learn from mistakes as quickly as possible to minimize future mistakes.
Peter: “Do what is easy and your life will be hard. Do what is hard and your life will become easy.” – Les Brown. Many times we want to go the easy way and expect the best results, but life doesn’t work like that. If you can’t put in hard work, don’t expect an easy tomorrow. But if we do what is hard today, things get a lot easier.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Mukala: I truly believe the opportunity we are able to provide the young graduates of Zambia will help them be in a good position to make a meaningful contribution in their future endeavors. Most join us with no work experience and because we work with European and American businesses, we always try to match their work culture and expectations. This means every one of us is constantly improving to serve our clients better.
Peter: That Impact is great exposure to the global market and how the business world works, as opposed to the “Zambian way” of doing things.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Mukala: Better infrastructure. Our efforts can be supported with an improved internet supply to ensure there is more continuity. The cost also is something which should be looked into – not just for us as a business but for the country as a whole. Affordable access to the internet will mean the young people will have had enough experience being online, and that they will adjust much easier to the demands of the job when we do recruit them.
Peter: Our education curriculum also needs rethinking to ensure we are teaching the young learners skills which they will need to succeed in the real world. This will help simplify our efforts as our recruits will already have had exposure to what is required of them.
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