There were already many opportunities that were given, in the meetings you could hardly hear anything other than «we think we must close» and the numbers did not say another thing, but my heart did not want to accept it.
On October 31, 2017, Zam-Mex restaurant, one of our entrepreneurial projects in Zambia, turned off its lights and dropped the curtains to make room for another function… this has come to an end.
I still remember that January 2017 in which we sat for the first time to discuss with the volunteers, the manager of Zam-Mex and the director of KUBUKA about the future of our restaurant. Everyone wanted to talk, think, look at numbers, know what the workers thought …, the group did not stop contributing, all active and I just shook my head … the number of memories that came to my head made impossible for me to focus in any other thing, I only saw Nadia running from one place to another buying madly, Elena sitting with the accounts and full of receipts, Pati and Sofia painting every single corner and all together like a family cooking in a space of a square meter for a table of 10 people and, although the nerves overwhelmed us, the laughter did not stop.
This made the decision very difficult, it looked potential, it felt that Zam-Mex could do something big, but the resources invested, both human and economic, did not help. After much thinking, many exchanges of words and with the numbers in hand indicating that in its first year Zam-Mex had not had gains, but practically no losses, it was decided to continue forward.
Improve the internal organization, extend the menu, check prices, make a new marketing campaign… There were many ideas that were carried out to try to give a new impetus to this project. Nsofwa, Chola, Jonathan… everyone was still fighting to prove that we had not made a mistake and new staff came to strengthen the family. First, it was Marcos, a volunteer full of energy who in a short time would be joined by Thukiwe, Mr. Tembo, Shadreck and Mwanza to form, together with the previous workers, a new family. All of them arrived with a renewed illusion that quickly infected the rest. There were months and months of changes and extra hours, but the whole team continued paddling in unison and in the same direction.
It was very hard to see how all the new ideas and intentions did not work, but even so, in every marketing action, in every sales rebound or in any team meeting, the hope always remained intact and when somebody became weak, and in some moment everyone did it, the rest gave him new hope and encouragement.
After 9 months from the decision to continue with the restaurant, the reality was that all the enthusiasm and effort did not find a place to take refuge and the numbers this time indicated what everyone was afraid … months of little consumption were coming and Zam-Mex did not have enough money saved for the lean times … this time the logic was imposed on the heart and it had to close.
On October 31 Zam-Mex closed its doors but, following the spirit that characterized it from the beginning, that same day the entire team opened the restaurant, together and with a smile, because although everyone knew that it was over, they weighed more heavily. Good memories and learning that has come to the end.
Someone said that while we have music we will continue dancing and, if possible, smiling. So it was, that day in Zam-Mex, music, as usual, did not stop ringing