Weaving Diversity into Success
Over the last three decades, Micmar has stood as a beacon of Zambian entrepreneurship, showcasing its true potential. Since 1991, this enterprise has flourished into a leading retailer with seven stores nationwide, including investments in diverse industries. Micmar is etched into Zambia’s fabric, and many have relied on Micmar for their building and home maintenance supplies. Many Zambians born in the 90s can recollect their father heading out to Micmar on a Saturday morning to buy supplies to fix a leaky tap or even build an entire family abode.
Today, the reins of the family business have been passed down to Michael Kroupnik, an ambitious and driven entrepreneur who is forging his own path while carrying forward the vision started by his father 32 years ago. We had the pleasure of sitting with Michael at Siesta by Mint, a charming, delightful restaurant nestled in Bishops Office Park in Kabulonga.
Siesta is part of the Mint family of restaurants that offer the perfect setting to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner. The restaurant offers various delicious meals and drinks in an industrial, architectural aesthetic surrounded by pan-brick and lush greenery. This harmonious blend culminates in creating a warm, inviting and friendly ambience where customers can sit back, relax, and enjoy quality food and excellent service. Michael’s infectious energy and optimism set the perfect tone as we readied ourselves for an exciting conversation about business, life and everything in between.
Michael credits his dynamic and diverse cultural upbringing for his entrepreneurial acumen. He was born to a RussianIranian father and a Greek mother. He spent most of his childhood in Zambia and completed his higher education in the UK. This blend of influences crafted an individual with a distinctive worldview. Reflecting on his youth, he says,
“I grew up in a multicultural household speaking multiple languages, which has fostered adaptability within me”Michael Kroupnik, Micmar CEO.
I’ve developed empathy and a profound understanding of various cultures, qualities that prove indispensable in the fast-paced and demanding business world.
Trading has been in the Kroupnik family for three-quarters of a century dating back to Michaels’s grandfather, who owned a hardware store in Iran during the 1950s. In 1985, Michael’s father, Roman Kroupnik, came to Zambia and in 1991 he started a small trading business that today has expanded into property development and manufacturing. At the core of the business is the desire to serve customers with quality products and a deep commitment to giving back to the country that has given the family so much.
Michael was not always destined to join the family business. After graduating from university in the UK, he moved to Greece, where he completed his military service and began a career as a shipbroker in one of Greece’s most prominent firms. As a shipbroker, Michael assumed the crucial role of an intermediary, facilitating the intricate shipping process. His responsibilities encompassed negotiating deals between shipowners and charterers, coordinating the transportation of goods and products, and facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers of ships.
He enjoyed early success in this role and began climbing up the ladder. As his career began to take shape, he had to decide whether to double down and grow his career as a shipbroker or join the family business. He chose the latter; today, he is one of Zambia’s leading business minds.
Apart from operating Micmar, Michael is also a property developer and is the man behind Pangaea Office Park, Trinity Park (which he sold to ZCCM-IH) and most recently, Agora Village in Mass Media. He tells us how we started in property development, “I decided to expand into real estate because I saw the opportunity to create value in the Zambian market. We can tell accurately, through the Micmar sales, how well the construction industry is doing and when I decided to build Trinity Park, the industry was booming. We have a competitive advantage in sourcing building materials, so all we needed to do was build a local team to execute the vision. Since then, we have developed commercial and retail properties and, more recently, a unique mixed-use property in Lusaka called Agora Village.”
Africa needs visionary entrepreneurs like Michael, who possess the ingenuity to devise solutions that uplift the region rather than exacerbate existing challenges. Michael always has his eyes open to find homegrown solutions that can further the development of Zambia and its people. In 2016, he joined forces with like-minded partners to establish Inde Credit, a microfinance company with a profound mission—to unlock the potential of Zambian SMEs by offering them flexible and tailor-made financial solutions. As of 2023, Inde Credit has disbursed over K1 billion to more than 450 Zambian SMEs, creating more than 3,000 jobs.
In line with his vision for progress, Michael has established Kroup Mining & Processing as another venture aimed at challenging the existing norms and elevating the involvement of Zambian enterprises in the mining value chain. The Solwezi-based company currently focuses on processing copper ore into cathodes for the export market and plans to add significant value to Zambian copper to achieve vertical integration. “We believe the time is right for this with all the emphasis on green energy and EVs, a vision we are happy to share with the Government of Zambia. We want to be one of the few local businesses manufacturing high-end finished copper products at home. Zambian businesses must add value to our natural resources, and we look forward to carrying the flag for years to come.”
Albeit with the many challenges of running a business in Zambia – such as the high cost of business, lack of infrastructure and an unpredictable local environment – Michael is still actively pursuing new avenues of growth. Micmar recently opened a new store in Kasumbalesa, hoping to access the Congolese market across the border. The business has also launched the Micmar Academy. This personal development course aims to upgrade the skills of Micmar employees while building their morale and making them ready to take on other opportunities outside work.
Apart from his professional endeavours, Michael serves as the Honorary Consul General of Greece to Zambia, an office that aims to maintain the already warm relations between the two nations and explore further trade, investment and cultural opportunities. He is also a family man with three children and a wife, Sara, whom he credits as his support system. He is actively involved in CSR projects with Micmar and personally spends time investing in people and projects.
When asked who inspires him, Michael pauses, saying, “Many people inspire me. My father for his entrepreneurial resilience, my mother for her strength and compassion and my sisters for their love. My wife for her unreserved passion for life, love and loyalty to our family and her independent character, and my kids for their innocence and energy for life. I keep my close friends very close, and each one inspires me differently, and I hope they find something inspiring in me. Above all
“I find profound inspiration in the Zambian people, who deserve nothing less than the best this world can offer.”Michael Kroupnik, Micmar CEO.
FOSTERING A LEGACY
Michael’s philosophy is to never allow himself to look back and ask “what if?”, but to ‘go for it’ or push himself until he feels satisfied or uncomfortable, a philosophy he fondly shares with his children, “if you believe in it, then just go for it”.
EMPATHY IN ACTION
In addition to several CSR programs, Michael praises his children as his most exciting project outside work. He is also exploring a new project on carbon credits and its impact on conservation in Zambia
UNWAVERING ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
Inde Credit is one of Michael’s passion projects because he is familiar with the rigidity of commercial banks when it comes to business loans, from personal experience. Inde Credit supports hundreds of SMEs by providing simple and effective lending products focusing on their basic needs and building solid relationships based on trust.
SHARPENING THE SWORD
In the pursuit of his goals, Michael firmly believes in the significance of time investment. He engages in extensive reading and regularly immerses himself in an abundance of knowledge which includes travel and networking with fellow entrepreneurs and individuals of interest. Additionally, he ensures to allocate time for regular exercise to clear his mind.
SIESTA BY MINT
Siesta by Mint is another twist on the Mint brand of restaurants. It is located in Kabulonga, Lusaka at 4 on Bishops Office Park and is the perfect place to eat, drink and chill. They serve up a variety of delicious cocktails and their menu covers a range of different cuisines. The industrial aesthetic creates a warm, welcoming ambience for guests to kick back and relax.