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Sand castles of success : Olibul Investments

Lubilo founded Olibul Investments Limited with the objective of exploiting the abundant high quality sand deposits in the Wabituo community lands and providing quality construction and metallurgical washed sands to quality conscious global mining sector players. Managing the business in his capacity as the CEO, Lubilo is the driving force behind the company and has in-depth local knowledge, having worked in the Zambian North Western province for over 10 years.

To ensure that the interests of the local community are properly represented, Olibul has a partnership agreement in place with the Wabituo community through its Pekahiah Enterprises Ltd (an entity established by the local community leaders to represent the community in this project), giving Olibul up to 35 years of exclusive rights to process Wabituo’s 2.35 million tonnes of sand deposits.

Olibul is manufacturing various sand products with a ready market to meet the existing demands of large scale global mining sector players with greater ease and accessibility. The start-up project also demonstrated significant reduction in business input costs for the mining end users as the material transportation costs have significantly decreased, following production within a 90 kilometre radius of the mines as opposed to, in some instances, as much as 250 kilometres in case of Olibul’s competitors in Zambia’s Copperbelt province.

GroFin believed in Lubilo’s vision to transform his start-up into a major supplier of various products to the growing construction industry and the steadily consolidating mining Industry in the North Western province of Zambia. Accordingly, when Lubilo approached GroFin in mid-2013 to finance recurring working capital as well as undertake construction of plant and installation of equipment, GroFin showed no hesitation in investing US$ 500K in the newly set-up company.

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Transformation of Olibul from a concept ventured in the bush to the realised investment and production as it stands today (Photo Credit: Chibamba Lopa)

In addition to finance, GroFin also provided much-needed business support to the start-up in the form of project planning guidance, setting up financial monitoring systems, putting governance controls in place and recommending improvements in operational efficiency.

As on date, construction of the plant and installation of the equipment purchased with GroFin’s financing is fully complete and the plant is in full production. Indeed, based on GroFin’s investment, Olibul has commenced servicing purchase orders with First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM) Kansanshi Mining Plc. consistently providing some of the highest grade silica sand the mine receives from any supplier. Currently, the significant revenues from this anchor client alone are enabling Olibul to fully service their obligations towards GroFin as well as another capital equipment financier, the Norsad Finance Company, leaving free cashflows in the company over and above their debt obligations. Olibul is a beneficiary of (and partner in) FQM Kansanshi Mining Plc.’s local supplier enabling and growth initiatives.
Besides moving closer towards fulfilling its vision, Olibul has also generated substantial employment in the area as well as contributed to a number of social projects. A total of 25 new permanent and pensionable jobs have been created by this investment in the Wabituo area which had no existing formal employer and no secondary school for formal training and upskilling resources.
Finally, fuelled by its desire to invest in the Wabituo community, Olibul has set up a trust fund for the indigenous Wabituo community to assist with critical community development areas of health, education and youth skills development. It may be noted that investments in education especially are a pressing need, with the local community schools currently enrolling up to 120 learners per class against the Zambian Government Education Ministry’s recommended 40 learners.