The School Club Zambia was initiated in Zambia in 2011 by a group of professionals who recognised the huge financial and technical gaps in the support available for the country's 5,000 registered community schools. The co-founders spearheading the initiative was Muftau Ibrahim and Lois Cochrane who after years of working both for and with community schools strongly believed that an alternative financial model for these vulnerable schools was needed in recognition of their severe lack of resources and dependency on infrequent handouts. The model would need to simultaneously and intrinsically promote social entrepreneurship amongst pupils due to low formal employment opportunities in the country and high poverty rates.
We are currently working with four schools where we have initiated chicken-rearing, tailoring and organic gardening enterprises. The overall aim for each school is to become "self-sufficient" after a period of 5 years so that they can cover all their overheads such as teacher's wages, school meals, books etc. independently.
As an organisation we place great value on the participatory approach, promoting project ownership and community co-operation at each school. Through our workshops schools learn to manage their finances effectively whilst monitoring and evaluating their projects throughout. Market research performed with school committees and pupils determines which income generating projects are to be set up at the schools and what the benefits will be. In rural areas in particular, food related projects (e.g. eggs, chickens, gardens) are particularly popular. In addition to generating income for the schools these projects provide necessary skills and heightened food security where poverty, extreme weather conditions and and unceratin harvest yields can have devestating effects on local communities.
Projects such as school-run tailoring centres provide much needed local employment as well as skills which , especially for young girls and women, can offer alternative livelihood possibilities in areas where early marriages are prevalent and women in particular struggle to support themselves and their families independently.
Since 2011 we have established an office with staff accommodation in rural Sinazongwe District which we rent for free due to the generosity of Zongwe Farming Enterprises. We hired our first full-time member of staff in 2012 but remain a small team of just two paid members of staff and two volunteers, along with our Zambian and UK Board.
Above left: Grainne the SCZ's first Programme Manager at a marketing workshop. Above right: Fiat the SCZ's Agricultural Technician
Below left: Lois presents at the UK launch. Below middle: Muftau checks on the progress at one of our first schoool gardens.