#Immersion: Chenge Besa-Mwenechanya, Stanbic Bank Zambia
by Moonga Mkandawire. We chat to Chenge Besa-Mwenechanya, head of investor services and transactional banking at Stanbic Bank Zambia, who offers advice on client relationship-building when doing business in Lusaka.
Moonga Mkandawire: What is the level of client engagement required for your job?
Chenge Besa-Mwenechanya: [This] is pretty extensive, as we have a client-centric approach across the bank for all relationship-based job descriptions. Over and above that, I am considered “front office” and, due to the nature of my business unit (investor services), I host quite a number of country visits by foreign clients.
MM: If you were organising a dinner for prospective clients on their first visit to Zambia, what venue would you choose and how would you structure the evening?
CBM: My approach is to keep it simple but classy. Business dinners need to be in a good area, with minimal noise/activity. I tend to stay away from hotel dinners, simply because it’s a chance for them to see the city — and eat something else other than hotel food. A favourite venue of mine is [Marlin Restaurant]; the food is consistent, and I know I won’t get any surprises in terms of quality of food or service. In terms of structure of the evening, I always ensure I have someone senior from the bank available for dinner and include other members of the team [who are part of client services for] the client. Other than this, I keep it informal, with regular reference to the bank and services we offer.
MM: Have you ever served or been served ichikanda as a starter? Please explain this Zambian culinary innovation for the uninitiated.
CBM: Yes, I have. There is a new place in Lusaka called The Manor that serves chikanda as a starter and it’s definitely a plus for me. Ichikanda is referred to as African polony in Zambia and is a savoury snack. [The] main ingredients are groundnuts and orchid tubers, with a hint of chilly.
MM: What are your go-to tricks to ensure guests mingle, keep the conversation flowing and get business done, all while having fun?
CBM: I like to get a few personal details like kids’ names, family etc — this tends to make conversation easier and more relatable. Remember, beyond the business talk, is a person who you are building a relationship with.
MM: You are also the CEO of Simply Relocate Zambia; how do you manage a full-time job with a side business?
CBM: It’s very hard, but what keeps me pushing is that we all need to start somewhere. I am in the process of recruiting additional staff so as to ease off on the everyday administrative demands of overseeing every single detail.
MM: How easy is it for a company to set up and relocate their staff in Zambia? Any advice?
CBM: Relocating to any part of the world without the right help is difficult; however, with the right knowledge and preparation, it’s definitely easier. [L]ocal relocation companies like [my own] facilitate relocation of business and assist with setup and networking were necessary.
MM: Is having a side hustle a reality of being a professional in Zambia or is it a passion thing?
CBM: I think it’s more passion and striving for more. After reading “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, it’s impossible to be complacent.
Moonga Mkandawire is a writer, editor and analyst. Born in Kitwe, Zambia, he moved to South Africa in 2001 and, with a background in both actuarial science and music, he founded SPARK Gatherings, a communication platform which serves up fresh perspectives on the intersection of urban development, real estate and the creative industries. He contributes the new column, #Immersion, which explores African market dynamics through executive profiles, to MarkLives.
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