Lawyer sets up Diaspora connect for Zambians


By John Chinode Chisengalumbwe

A  time to sit back, relax and taste foreign food while someone does everything else for you.

Upon completing her law degree in 1999 at Warwick University, United Kingdom, Natasha Chiumya returned to her native home of Zambia where she set up a leading law firm called  Folotiya and Chiumya with her business partner. The firm focuses on the property and estates sector of Zambia.

Natasha holds an MBA from the University of Cape Town in South Africa and has over 10 years of experience, and a proven track record in the legal sector, property development and management. Her experience extends across the public and private sectors. She has previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the second-largest professional services network in the world. Natasha has also worked closely with some donors and government ministries like the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This undoubtedly shows that her knowledge base transcends effortlessly beyond her legal profession. 

As a testament to her hard work, Natasha was awarded the 2020 Stanbic Bank Anakazi Award in the Justice category and she is among the most inspiring women in Zambia today.   

Picture 1.jpg (21 KB)Figure 1: Natasha Chiumya poses with her Award in 2020.
Picture courtesy of Natasha Chiumya

In 2020, she set up Diaspora Connect (also known as Buying Properties in Zambia). The aim of the company is to act as a channel for people in the diaspora to acquire land and property in Zambia using Natasha’s expertise and local knowledge.

I arranged a telephone interview with Natasha for 3 pm CAT on a  Monday. I rang her exactly on the hour and she quickly picked up my call just after four rings - which to me was very impressive.

Natasha sounded very calm on the phone with a soft tone of voice and an unpredictable accent. Before we got into the interview, we spoke about the Covid 19 pandemic and how it has changed the way we live.

"I began the interview by asking why Natasha set up Diaspora Connect."

“I set up Diaspora Connect after seeing the many challenges people abroad face when buying land and properties in Zambia. They face serious setbacks [and] we provide a safe and reliable way to build your own property without you doing the leg work”, Natasha responded.

“Furthermore, I have heard stories of Zambians abroad that have used friends, relatives, and other companies to buy land or properties and they have ended up losing their money, simply because they have not followed the legal procedure before paying for the property.” - Natasha added.

Such horror stories are indeed wide widespread in the diaspora. I recently spoke to Nomate Gosegasoh a Zambian lady living in Germany who lost K20,000 (Zambian Kwacha) through a friend's brother. I detail our brief conversation below.

Picture 2.jpg (24 KB)Figure 2: A smiling Nomate Gosegasoh poses for a selfie.
Picture courtesy of Nomate.

During a telephone conversation, Nomate greeted me in a catchy Lusaka street Nyanja dialect. It was almost like we had known each other for a long time.

Nomate told me that she decided to buy land in 2012 through a friend's brother who told her about the availability of land near Hero’s Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia. He said the land belonged to his niece. Nomate went on to detail how she lost her hard-earned money after she and her family realised, they had failed to do the basic due diligence. 

Nomate added that "If I am going to use a company like Diaspora Connect, the first thing that I am going to do is research on the company and follow the legal procedure."

Natasha details how Nomate and others like her can avoid such pitfalls. "We provide aftersales support for all our clients; our legal team makes sure there is due diligence before any transaction. and we always research the [local] area to make sure it is socially friendly and accessible,

"Using our service is very much convenient for people living in the diaspora. For instance, our team makes sure we get to know you before any payments are made as this helps us determine the exact property you are looking for. We also provide a suitable payment plan to suit your budget."   

On the aspect of building the property, “We always go for quality vendors and we guide you through the process of getting you quality over quantity, we are able to outsource the right company to build your home with quality building materials," said Natasha.

Picture 3.jpg (20 KB)Figure 3: Natasha Chiumya ready for business.
Picture courtesy of Natasha Chiumya.

People like Gloria Sakala Zimba, a Quality Assurance Analyst who lives in Altrincham, Manchester in the United Kingdom has built two properties by using a service like Diaspora Connect. She offers up the suggestion that people need to do their research before engaging similar companies and details that it is extremely easy to do so with modern Internet technology.

She also said, "The benefits of using an established company to do all the work for you is that they do it on a full-time basis. When I tried to use a close friend to help me build on my piece of land, the person was always giving me excuses, now you see a construction firm will do it on a full-time basis whereas a friend or relative will do it when it suits."

Picture 5.jpg (24 KB)Figure 4: Picture courtesy of  Goria Zimba

Another lady I spoke to was Betty Chilufya, a nurse living in the United Kingdom who told me about how unhappy she was with the quality of materials used to build her house.

I enjoyed a long conversation on the phone with Betty about the services Diaspora Connect are providing for Zambians abroad. 

 “I dealt with a company based in Zambia and although the project was behind schedule, I did not have to top up any money than what was in the contract,” said Betty.

"The downside was that upon completion, the material was of low-quality, including the fittings used. It could have been that way due to inflation; the company may have bought cheaper goods to stay within the original budget,"  said Betty.

Natasha appeared on the Perspectives With Mumba talk show which is a brainchild of Mumba Chakulya and is hosted by herself at 12 pm G.M.T on Saturdays on So Online Radio (www.soonlineradio.com). 

People that have worked with Natasha Chiumya have given positive feedback, @website www.buyingpropertiesinzambia.com.

Picture 4.jpg (33 KB)Figure 5: Picture courtesy of Natasha Chiumya

Natasha spends her free time with her partner and kids and enjoys being a couch potato watching Netflix.