Meet A Playboy Entrepreneur Who Went From Making Millions To Making an Impact
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
In 1997, Ashoka Fellow Peter Sinkamba founded Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE). This organization advocates for the social and environmental rights of local communities coping with the activities of multinational mining companies. In the area surrounding Kitwe, it is clear why CBE exists. The horizon is littered with equipment from the twelve mines that occupy the region. Though the mining industry contributes significantly to the Zambian economy, the existing operational standards permit multinational mining companies to engage in practices which are not in the interests of the local community.
Before CBE, local citizens had no way of speaking out against the negative impact of mining. Lenient government regulations and contracts, coupled with profit driven multinationals created an environment in which multinationals were immune to punishment for their reckless activities. The result was the release of harmful chemicals into the local air and water supply. This in turn negatively impacted the health, livelihood and general well-being of the local residents.
Peter is no stranger to publicity and advocacy. As President of his University’s Student Union, he was expelled for coordinating a strike against government funding cuts. As a result, he was “blacklisted” and therefore barred from seeking many of the available employment opportunities. He realized that his only option was entrepreneurship. Peter started out exporting maize to the Congo and within five years of being expelled , hewas on his way to becoming a self-made millionaire. “I was a very rich man,” Peter told us laughing, “not this poor man I am now!”