Book World’s inspiring story

SMEs CornerLast year we featured an article that looked at one of the leading book and stationery stores in the country called Book World, a limited company by shares.
We traced its humble beginnings as a single small book store in the early 1990s along Cairo Road in Lusaka with a liquid capital of K100 by then.
Today in our article, we continue looking at the inspiring story of this organisation mainly to encourage small businesses that are just starting or rather struggling to grow not to lose hope but rather soldier ahead to reach the status of Book World.
Book World was founded by Mr Bharat Nayee and his wife, both Zambians of Asian origin, as shareholders and directors of the company mainly with nothing in terms of assets but rather with a pregnant vision of one day becoming a leading book and stationery store in the country.
True to its vision, Book World today has become the leading book and stationery store in the country.
This is evidenced by it being a recipient of the Diamond Arrow Award in 2015 from the Profession Management Review (PMR) of South Africa for being the number one supplier of stationery for the past six years in a row.
The shareholding structure that has since been joined by their 27-year-old daughter Shivan Nayee who by the time the company was being founded was five-years-old is wholly Zambian-owned and operates as a family business.
Shivan, now the general director and overseer of the company, told this writer that it was not easy to reach the levels the company has achieved because banks in Zambia don’t easily lend out money for business purposes without collateral.
“It is important for start-up small businesses to stay focused and not to lose track through hard work, perseverance, persistence, resilience, passion and to be financially disciplined because these business elements have pushed us this far,” Shivan advised small businesses.
In the previous articles, this column has looked at the various ways in which a business can grow its capital structure and one of these sources is obtaining goods on credit from suppliers and operating good credit management.
Operating a single store along Cairo Road with limited resources, Book World was lucky to have taken over the market of stationery and book business from phased out parastatals like Kingstones in the early 1990s through privatisation programmes.
“We were lucky at this stage because we were the first private company to seriously be involved in this business,” an elated Shivan told this writer.
However the major breakthrough for Book World came through when the company signed for credit facilities from overseas book publishers for supplying educational books, story books, children’s books spanning over 120 days credit period such as Macmillan, Pearson, and Penguin publishers, among others.
“It is fast to bring in the consignment by air than by sea because it takes only two weeks for airlifted goods to arrive than goods that are shipped,” She narrated.
Given credit facilities of four months in which to pay the suppliers, it gave the company ample time in which to pay back the credits.
However, she said that it was much cheaper to bring in the consignment although it takes about three months for products to arrive to a landlocked country like ours, otherwise the cost of sea freight is one third cheaper than that of air freight.
Through prudent credit management, Book World has over the past years increased its capital portfolio and has graduated from being a small business into a medium-sized company.
Book World, whose head office is now situated at plot no. 10552 off Lumumba Road, has over the period branched into ten outlets which are Cairo Road, University of Zambia — both Great East Road and Ridgeway campuses— Makeni Mall, Crossroads Mall, Manda Hill, Kitwe town centre, Ndola town centre, and MazabuKa town centre.
The line of business whose emphasis is educational books, baby books, motivational books, and novels, among others, also deals in office stationery, school stationery and gifts stationery such as cards.
The company also operates the online bookstore through its website and delivers the products to the doorsteps of its customers.
The award-winning company has now expanded its business by going into publishing through its newly-created business Book World Africa which is the arm extension of Book World publishing sector.
In 2012, Book World Limited acquired the rights to Macmillan entire Zambian publishing portfolio and has now partnered with ECZ to be publishing past examination papers for Grades seven, nine and 12, teachers’ and learners’ guides, among others.
Book World serves as an inspirational story to many small businesses in this country.
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