Alice Ouedraogo is Chief of the HIV/AIDS Programme at the International Labour Organization
Heavy trucks pass through the Chirundu Corridor, one of the major routes connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia in southern Africa. This is a vital transport artery, important for the economies of both countries and their neighbors. It is also a major route for the transmission of HIV.
The mix of long-distance lorry drivers — who go weeks at a time without seeing their families — with widespread poverty existing along the corridor, results in sexual encounters between drivers and women. The risks they take with their health have an impact on the wider community.
Founder and CEO of Tapera Bio Industries Limited, he received entrepreneurship training as part of the ILO’s Youth Employment Project in Zambia.
As the sun comes up over Lusaka, a city I share with 2 million others, business is well under way and has been since 3 a.m. The trucks carrying produce from the farms around the city are the first to arrive in the early hours before I wake.
As soon as I do, I am up and out, looking for new contacts and investments to help support and grow my bio-fuel company. Such is the life of a young entrepreneur in this town. Every day is a new opportunity to meet the challenges of keeping a small business alive.
I’m 28 but first started my business in 2006 when I was 21, after being inspired by a TV documentary on renewable energy in Brazil. I put the project on hold for a while to work as an aircraft technician at Zambian Airways Limited. However, they went out of business and I came back to the bio-fuel idea. My alternatives were few, as formal, decent employment opportunities are hard to come by in my country. In fact, a vast majority of young workers are in the informal economy. Continue reading