Some of Namibia’s young future business leaders received a welcome boost when Sanlam announced the winners of its entrepreneurial support programme, the Sanlam Bridge, on Wednesday this week. The programme was launched earlier this year to replace the Sanlam Innovation Works, and serves as a launchpad for those who have innovative and exciting business ideas but lack the necessary resources to turn their ideas into reality or grow their business.
As part of Sanlam’s corporate social responsibility, Sanlam Bridge aims to create future business leaders in the country, to promote business innovation and leadership, and to encourage employment-creation while allowing young people the opportunity to develop their own businesses and thereby generate their own income.
The top businesses selected for this year’s Sanlam Bridge are Taxi Connect, a ride-hailing platform; Greenville Solars, engaged in the distribution of portable solar lights and phone chargers; Ndaka Mushrooms, which processes fresh oyster mushrooms into products; Stimu Box Sensory Play Creations, an online store producing personalised sensory boxes; and Petwa Medical Practice, a clinical research centre.
The businesses are all at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey, but will each receive a cash injection of N$50 000 seed capital from Sanlam. Coupled to this, the entrepreneurs will receive support, mentorship and coaching from StartUp Namibia, who have partnered with Sanlam to help facilitate the programme.
The top five businesses are expected to meet set criteria and achieve set goals and milestones to become the overall Sanlam Bridge winner, who will walk away with an additional N$50 000 cash prize to further invest into their business.
Speaking at the announcement event on Wednesday, Sanlam General Manager: Brand and People, Evans Simataa said: “At Sanlam, we view entrepreneurs as national assets to be cultivated, motivated, coached and adequately supported to the greatest possible extent”. He observed that they were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the participating businesses in the programme, which received over 200 applications, indicating a high appetite for business in Namibia.
Simataa said he believes truly turning around and diversifying the economy requires investing in young people. Entrepreneurship is important, as it has the ability to improve standards of living, create wealth and jobs, and significantly contribute to poverty reduction, he added. Entrepreneurs, besides contributing to economic development, also help drive change with innovation, introduce new and improved products, and contribute to income generation.
“It is important to note that Sanlam Bridge does not only provide young people with the much-needed financial support, but it gives them the necessary support which will help ensure they go the distance with their business”. Simataa stated that even now in the midst of Covid-19, the youth are investing in innovative business ideas to respond to the needs of everyday people.
Speaking at the same event, StartUp Namibia GIZ Project Manager Anna Vambe said she was humbled to be a part of this important project. She further highlighted that StartUp Namibia is a German-Namibian technical cooperation project funded by the German Government that has been assisting Namibian startups since the project was launched in 2019. She also expressed confidence in the bright futures of the top five Sanlam Bridge winners, advising them to think beyond just producing and selling locally, but also internationally. Vambe then strongly encouraged the recipients to collaborate and learn from each other through the challenging journey of entrepreneurship.