March is over and it was a very special month at Impact Enterprises. First, we introduced new activity workshop to our employees – Active Fridays!  We now kick off every Friday with some exercise and yoga early in the morning to get more energy for the last day of the working week. Apart from our employees getting health benefits and an extra energy boost, our employees are flashing lots of smiles and happy laughs.

Masida: I really love our Active Fridays! It gives me energy to start the day, and also helps to stay fit.

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After that success we decided to dedicate the whole month of March to becoming more healthy and introduced a new initiative – Healthy March. Apart from Friday yoga morning sessions we held a series of special educational workshops. The first focused on basic nutrition. We had discussions about types of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, why sugar is bad, and what are the 10 healthiest foods. We had lots of great questions from our employees and lots of fun. Who said healthy eating is boring?

Buchy: After the nutrition workshop I feel more educated. I learned new things about food I absolutely didn’t know before. It took me from bad to good in terms of food habits. I taught my family about that because I want them to be healthy too.

The results have been very positive: many employees lowered their sugar intake and started drinking more water; others limited the amount of processed food they consume every day. A great help is that Impact Enterprises provides daily free nutritious lunch to the employees, which consists of meat, vegetables and nsima (the local specialty made from maize flower, the main source of carbohydrates in Zambia).

Thabita: I never thought before about what is inside the food that I’m eating, what it does to my body, we’ve never learned this in school. And learning in a group is fun and we get clear explanations and can ask questions, much more effectively than just reading a book.

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Another week we had discussions about health tips which are easy and effective. We talked about food, sleep, exercising, how to start the day, how to get energized and relax. We also had special female workshops about prenatal care and women’s cycle.

Why are we investing so much time into these activities? First of all, because we really care about our employees. On a bigger picture we believe that any private sector company should implement a holistic approach in engaging their employees. Youth today need more than just jobs and basic skills. They need holistic training and guidance, both professionally and personally, to achieve their full potential.

This is especially important in developing countries. Youth in places like Zambia have fallen behind on their health  because they have very few resources available to them.. Few people have access to internet due to high costs, there are few libraries, these subjects are not taught in schools, and youth are often embarrassed or shy to talk about those things with their parents or doctors at the hospital.

Companies like Impact Enterprises can provide a valuable forum for youth to improve their physical and mental health. Implementing a well-rounded support system within the private sector can create synergies and empower working youth in ways not seen today. Governments and formal educational institutions fail to provide that approach to the development of youth. However, the private sector has immense power, through their existing access and economies of scale, to impact youth.

We hope to continue expanding our workshops to fully develop our employees and prepare them to be vibrant leaders in the world. Let’s work together to improve ourselves and each other!

Mukala: New workshops were another reminder for me that I need to take better care of myself if I want to stay healthy and productive.