RUNDU – Local small innovators, manufacturers and entrepreneurs still struggle with access to the market despite their being productive.
The Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) branch in Kavango East said, in Namibia, if one invents, manufactures or produces anything, the struggle isn’t over despite demand.
“Namibia is not short of entrepreneurs or innovators, they just do not have a platform to showcase their products or skills,’’ said regional chairperson of the NCCI, Geraldo Illarius during the official opening of the Rundu Annual Trade Fair on Tuesday.
Illarius noted that entrepreneurs are challenged with a lack of shelf space from wholesalers, retailers, and street vendors lack appropriate markets along the road and no affordable space in the malls.
“This is the same factor affecting value addition in the country, the entrepreneurs and innovators have ideas and prototypes but they are too risky to roll them out. Because how will they access their target market if those in the retail/wholesale and distribution are not willing to stock their products?” he asked.
“The question and real hustle starts where one needs to find shops that will stock your products. So, these innovators, manufacturers and producers have to start their shops to sell their products and to a certain extent, they abandon the value-addition component, which the country needs so
“This is a classic example of our farmers; they have to abandon their farms to go sell their produce in the street because no shops are taking up their stocks. It is not a matter of quality but the historical trend of getting everything from South Africa and unwillingness to give local supply a chance,” he said.
Illarius said expos and trade fairs have become a perfect place for unknown entrepreneurs, startups and local manufacturers to showcase and sell their products.
Moreover, connecting entrepreneurs with potential customers and investors. “Furthermore, it is a platform to showcase that Namibians are trying and they are willing to work given a conducive environment,” he said while adding that people are willing to add value and diversify the country’s export basket but they need to be supported by policies and other incentives.
“Let us give local products a chance. This means space on our retail shelves, in our big malls and strategic positions in towns where they can access their customers. Let us communicate the standards and the quality we want rather than just refusing their products,” he noted.
During the official opening of the trade fair, works minister John Mutorwa said there is an absolute and urgent need for inhabitants of Rundu and Namibia to regroup, reflect, strategise and re-invigorate their energies, plans and efforts, to rebuild, refocus, reconstruct and reshape the socio-economic-educational-spiritual-cultural lives, facilities and infrastructures.
Mutorwa urged all exhibitors to learn from one another, exchange expertise as they market and sell their products and services.
“By so doing, even though in a small humble way, you are contributing to the socio-economic development of Rundu town, Namibia, SADC, African Union and the global world,’’ he said.
Governor of Mashonaland West province in Zimbabwe, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka and her delegation also attended the official opening.
Kavango East has a twinning agreement with Mashonaland West where the two sister regions work together in the economic and agriculture sectors.
“Indeed, we are highly honoured to receive the invitation. Indeed, our twinning has started bearing fruits. We are proud and look further to deepening our ties through this visit,” she said.
The trade fair started on Friday and will end on Saturday at the Kavango Convention Centre.
Caption: (Entrepreneurs 1, Entrepreneurs 2)
Occupying space… Some entrepreneurs showcase their products at the Rundu Trade Fair.
Photo: John Muyamba