Preserving a legacy through ‘hardware’ and determination

Updated on 27 January 2021

Nestled in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Lusaka, where shouting bus drivers, street vendors and fruit ladies are all trying to make ends meet, you will find Priscilla’s little shop, stuck between two other small hardware workshops.

Priscilla is a fighter; this resourceful mother of 3 has never let life’s challenges knock her down.  Even after her husband’s death, she took the challenge of leaving her secure (though low paid)  job to take over her husband’s hardware business.

This micro-entrepreneur buys hardware equipment such as paint, plumbing and gumboots generally in South Africa, and resells them to builders in Lusaka, Zambia.

As one of the few female-led hardware businesses in the neighbourhood, her small business is appreciated and has gained faithful customers. Even with the business picking up, she faced roadblocks impeding its growth. With popularity comes demand and in many instances, she was unable to meet and fulfil the orders. This was proof that she needed to inject capital into the business in order to scale up.

AB Bank’s main branch is located in the city centre where the day-to-dayers like Priscilla work, from the break of dawn until late.  She was able to meet AB Bank loan officers whose role is to build a rapport with microentrepreneurs to break the intimidating image of banking. They reassured her that despite the small size of her business venture, she could qualify for a loan and avoid the heavy requirements and red tape.

She initially applied for a 15,000 ZMW loan (approximately 750 USD) , a sum she was able to diligently repay within a year.  It boosted her business, gave her the capacity to purchase stock and meet her customer’s demand. She managed to repeat the operation 11 times and payback each of her loans. 

Hardware Katati has on average 50 customers who bring on average 100,000 ZMW (approximately 5,000 USD) of sales revenue monthly.

Priscilla is an ambitious business lady who, with the business profit, has bought small houses she rents out to low-income tenants.  Diversifying her source of revenue has helped her during the pandemic when money has been low.

Back in March 2020, when COVID officially hit Zambia, came the travel restrictions and advice to stay home. Priscilla could not travel to South Africa where she usually goes to procure her goods.

The new normal meant she had to rely on e-commerce websites and contacts on the ground to place orders. Unfortunately, the quality received would not match what she used to purchase herself. Adding to that, the delay in transport, the customs tax increment and the reduced orders, has been tough on her finances resulting in significant losses.

The silver lining was AB Bank’s patience and understanding to ensure she does not default and pay her loan. Priscilla has built a good rapport with her bank loan officers who seek her best interest. “In other financial institutions, I would not even qualify for a business loan” she says.   This is why she is committed to making sound financial decisions and comply with the loan agreement.

Today, despite the pandemic, her business has still managed to stay afloat unlike many others. Her ultimate goal is to purchase her mother a house and ensure that her last born gets a full education thanks to the fruit of her labour.