OMUTHIYA – The Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development affirmed its support for small businesses amid the pandemic that harshly impacted the sector.
This affirmation was made during a stakeholder engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Omuthiya, where the ministry boosted 20 small businesses with grants.
“It is a fact that Covid-19 has hampered many businesses. However, the ministry has made provision and awarded grants amidst Covid-19. About 20 businesses were awarded grants in Oshikoto region. We want to bring the small business sectors into the economy. We are not going to make you pay what you cannot afford but we want to put you in formal structures,” said trade minister Lucia Iipumbu.
The meeting was conducted in conjunction with the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN).
Iipumbu said they came to engage and discuss with entrepreneurs on matters pertaining to business development and to listen to the challenges that are hampering their business operations and survival in the region and nation at large.
“Consultative meetings are primarily aimed at exchanging ideas on how to collectively support and innovate mechanisms on resuscitating the Namibian economy and business revival, particularly in areas within the ministry’s mandate such as manufacturing, industrialisation and value addition,” said Ipumbu.
“There is a need to transform the Namibian economy to increase industrial capacity and output to use local resources by adding the highest possible degree of value to create new economic benefits and employment. The ministry and all its partner organisations responsible for industrialisation and business operations have a crucial role to play in spearheading economic development in the country,” she added.
Furthermore, amid public concerns, Iipumbu acknowledged “the business registration process was quite long and hectic because entrepreneurs had to run from one office to another, but now, it has been made much easier through an online system that can be done in a click of a button, provided that all the requirements are met.”
In addition, the participants questioned the rationale used to award funding, arguing that it is always easy to share information and apply but yet very difficult to become a beneficiary.
Youthful entrepreneur, Naftal Nuule said Oshikoto is one of the regions with high unemployment; hence, such occasions are important as they help empower the grassroots businesses.
He, therefore, appealed to the ministry to further extend its funding programme to boost many businesses, which will eventually grow the economy.
In the same vein, the ministry’s spokesperson, Elijah Mukubonda added that the platform seeks to collect undiluted primary data from stakeholders and development partners. The ultimate aim is to obtain practical views from the audience to incorporate them into programmes and activities of the ministry.
The entrepreneurs were also informed that the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade’s ‘Buy Local, Grow Namibia’ campaign, which was launched last year October, has resulted in securing a significant market shelve space for the locally-made produce. They were also advised to formalise and structure their business.