After a year of hard work, Jacana Business Center is finally ready. With a team of 33 people, we worked on it for a year. Of course we had setbacks, but overall everything was achieved within the set goals.
How it all started
In 2016 Jacana moved from central Zambia (Chisamba) to eastern Zambia (Chipata). We were only a small NGO with 4 people staff, so we decided that the office would be at home. This went well for a long time, but in 2019 we felt we were bursting at the seams and looked for solutions. Meanwhile, Eastern Manual Drilling cooperative (EMD) and Eastern Beekeepers Cooperative (EBC) had started up and we wanted to create space for them as well. So it was time to put our heads together and make plans.
First, of course, a drawing of the building had to be made. This was done by Ton Teunissen from the Netherlands in collaboration with Colin Chabula, a local architect and building supervisor. A beautiful design came out of it. We started looking for land and found 1.8 ha on a spot where the city is expanding to. The process of getting the drawing approved by the local authorities did end up taking some time due to the Corona outbreak. Meanwhile, EMD has made a borehole and a small team installed the fence.
Approval came at the end of June 2020 and work began immediately on the main building. Jacana’s goal was to give the workers the opportunity to learn new skills. For example, three novice masons started an official part-time training at TEVETA technical school, two days to school and the rest tutoring on the construction site. In August they will take their exams and hopefully receive an official diploma.
Another team was trained under the supervision of Martijn Schootstra of PUM in designing and installing good quality and affordable solar systems, using locally available resources. The center is currently completely “off-grid”.
Many new techniques were used that are not common in Zambia. For example, pouring a concrete floor in sections, constructing a floor with a staircase, high rooms, a sloping ceiling with insulation and natural ventilation and the door of the workshop that folds upwards like a hangar door for airplanes. The guys can always use this knowledge with new clients.
Watch the building process and result in 4 minutes
Now after more than a year, the Jacana Business Center is there, painted with a color design designed by Suzanne Wehrens and being used extensively. One of the containers has been converted into a honey processing unit, all drill materials have been given a place, Collins is working on animations for Mzuzu drilling and the VES team is making reports and appointments from the new office.
There are still a few things to be arranged, for example a batch of wood is drying to make cabinets and a kitchen unit and a shorter path to the main road is under construction.
Of course there will be an official opening, but this will have to wait for a while due to the outbreak of the third and very aggressive Corona wave. All training, ceremonies, etc. are temporarily prohibited.
The workers who helped with the construction are -as soon as Corona allows- invited for a business training to give them the opportunity to better market the technical skills they acquired.
The new building will give Jacana room to grow again, giving more small entrepreneurs the opportunity to expand their businesses, create employment and expand the range of affordable and quality products on the local market.
We thank all those who have contributed to the realization of Jacana Business Center, not only the workers but also the donors and all friends, acquaintances and people who care about Jacana.
THANKS, a dream became reality.