The United Nations Development Programme in Namibia (UNDP Namibia), Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT), Standard Bank Namibia (SBN) and the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) have jointly established the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Investment Facility (SDGIIF). The EIF serves as the SDGIIF project manager for the facility that was launched on 02 November 2020.
The SDGIIF is used to provide grant match financing to women and youths in business, social enterprises and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to address the challenges of the financing gap to MSMEs.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2017 estimated the annual financing gap to MSMEs in Namibia to be US$1.8 billion. In this regard, SDGIIF is a blended investment vehicle to improve sustainable financing mechanisms to local challenges and accelerate the achievement of SDGs. The SDGIIF offers the Namibian economy and private sector opportunities to broaden the economic participation of its population by unlocking financial investments to enhance economic growth, reducing unemployment and stimulate social innovations to address pressing socio-economic challenges.
The impact investment facility platform is aimed at accelerating the implementation of SDGs with the support of the private sector. Through dynamic partnerships, the programme intends to encourage the private sector to transform their traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) into modern corporate social investments (CSI) that have a greater and standardise measurable impact. This partnership will allow corporates to invest in social impact micro and small enterprises with the aim of turning them into potential suppliers for local and regional value chains. At local value chain level, such investments are expected to result in enhanced technical capacities for the commercialisation of social innovations.
Namibia recognises the importance of attaining the SDGs. This is reflected by the country’s contribution in the SDGs formulation processes and serving as a member of the High-Level Committee representing the African sub-region on SDGs. The country’s commitment to SDGs is further reflected by the integration of the SDGs into the Namibia’s Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5). This is enough evidence that Namibia is committed towards the Global Goals. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that the approaches and methodologies applied in implementing SDGs leads to the desired results.
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has not only caused a global health emergency and created new challenges, but also aggravated the youth unemployment situation in Namibia. The country’s efforts to suppress the spread of Covid-19, while commendable, have not only resulted in disruption of economic activity but also threatened the survival of many small businesses. The stringent limitations on business operations occasioned by the lockdown disproportionately affected trade in goods and services especially for SMEs. Jobs and livelihood opportunities have been lost following SMEs’ temporary closures due to business and liquidity drying up.
The calls for proposals during the respective earmarked windows are expected to provide micro business stimulus grants as well as competitive matching grant awards along with mentoring, capacity building and entrepreneurship development training to MSMEs owners with businesses that are legally recognised under Namibian laws and who operate in any of the targeted sectors of agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, renewable energy, information technology; with a product or service on the market.
The recipients of the funding also receive tailored business development services and enterprise development training from the trade ministry’s Business Development section and mentorship from UNDP Accelerator lab to foster the nexus between business development services and development solutions.
The funding facility has three funding window periods. The first window call saw a total of 35 fledging and aspiring entrepreneurs receive support to the tune of N$2.5 Million in grant funding. The first window financing of the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Facility (SDGIF) handover ceremony was held on 08 November 2020. The first window focused on companies in agriculture, nutraceuticals and artisans. The EIF as the facility manager has seen great impact from the first window so far; having funded 35 businesses of which 18 are owned by women. Nine businesses were funded under tier one and 26 were funded under tier two. These funds were disbursed across the following regions: Khomas, Oshana, Erongo, Otjozondjupa, //Kharas, Zambezi and Kavango West. The Fund remains hopeful that it will be able to touch every corner of the country, and thus encourage women and youth to apply during the second window.