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Unlocking the Potential of Zambian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
“Learning from the international best practices – the Southeast Asian Experience”

Discussion Papers


by Chibwe Chisala
February 2008


This paper examines the SMEs performance in Zambia and attempts to identify some practical lessons that Zambia can learn from Southeast Asian countries (with reference to Malaysia) in order to facilitate industrial development through unlocking the potential of its SMEs sector. Malaysia and Zambia were at the same level of economic development as evidenced by similar per capita incomes but Zambia has remained behind economically and its manufacturing sector has stagnated as if both countries did not have similar initial endowments. It therefore, becomes imperative that Zambia learns from such countries on how they managed to take-off economically with a focus on SME development. Training (education), research & development, market availability and technological advancement through establishment of industrial linkages coupled with cluster formation were some of the outstanding strategies identified that Zambia could use as a “key” to unlock its SMEs’ potential as it strives to meet the UN MDGs in particular halving its poverty levels by 2015 and also realizing its vision of becoming a middle income earner by 2030.

Keywords: development, SMEs, MNCs, Zambia, Malaysia, Southeast Asia
JEL classification: L60, O19, R20

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Please note that discussion papers are works in various stages of progress and most have not been edited and proofread and may contain errors of fact or judgment. Revised versions of these papers may subsequently appear in more formal publication series. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). The IDE does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included and accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from its use.