By CLINTON MASUMBA
A former cleaner decided to repackage her years of experience to form a cleaning company and become an employer.
The story of a 41-year-old woman who worked as a cleaner has turned into a success. Gladys Banda, 41, now proprietor of FM Cleaning Services, worked as a cleaner at the age of 16 at a local hotel after completing school in Bournemouth, England. But 25 years on, she now has more than 160 employees on her list, all thanks to Kansanshi Mining Plc.
Married with four children, Gladys attended primary and secondary education in the United Kingdom, and later obtained a Diploma and Degree at the University of Zambia and Texila American University in Business Administration respectively.
Since 2008, Gladys, through her company FM Cleaning Services, has been tendering for contracts at Kansanshi Mining Plc among other companies in the now-competitive cleaning services business, but finally her persistence paid off with mines taking her on. Her efforts have not been in vain, “When I was young, I worked as a cleaner, so I have cleaned before. When I finished school, I got a job at a local hotel as a housekeeper, which is something my workers don’t even know. I was young then at only 16, but I gained the experience,” Gladys shares.
“Kansanshi, has shown me that they are non-discriminatory and do not mind who is competing for business, whether male or female as long as one is capable of doing the business to their satisfaction. When we took a keen interest in the functionality and operations of the North-Western Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry, we knew a day would come when we would be able to reap the benefits of this connection, and here we are today” she adds.
Gladys recalls that her company participated in a tender that was advertised through the Chamber by Kansanshi Mining Plc, and was successful after the competitive process, “We decided to participate in the tender. The challenge in the past has been in the area of capacity, but we have been working on overcoming this. For example, our project with Kansanshi is being done in collaboration with another female-led cleaning company called Cleanquip owned by Delipha Phiri. With this in mind, having been given this opportunity by Kansanshi, we will inspire more women to participate in tenders and will help break the stereotype that the mining environment is only favourable to male contractors.”
She recalls that FM Cleaning kept pushing on, realising that business was competitive and the mine was always looking for quality deliverables, “We kept knocking and the door opened. Connections? No, maybe the North Western Chamber was our only link to the Kansanshi tendering system.” She said the advantage is that with the tendering system in Kansanshi, one can participate in a tender from anywhere in the country online, which is a major advantage for anyone interested.
In recognizing that Women worldwide have historically faced barriers in workplaces, Kansanshi Mining Plc has remained committed to breaking down these barriers and is creating a culture of fairness, respect and equal opportunity for all in its different areas of operation. And in line with this year’s Women’s Day theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, Gladys is an example that Kansanshi is not too far behind with regards to keeping up with the demands of creating all-inclusive platforms such as online tendering systems.
McGerald Mvula, Supply Chain Manager at Kansanshi Mining Plc says Kansanshi believes that promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity is not only the right thing to do but also a business imperative. A diverse and inclusive workforce drives innovation, creativity and better decision-making, which ultimately leads to better outcomes for the business and well-being, “We have a reputation to protect, we do not want to get involved in the solicitation of bids or any fraudulent activities, that is why we are working with the North-Western Chamber. So you notice that from time to time, we have bids that are coming from the chamber, who end up winning contracts with Kansanshi.”
He says Kansanshi Mining Plc, has remained committed to supporting the local businesses as a way of helping grow the economy, and create employment for others through the suppliers and contractors and this is done in a non-discriminatory fashion.