Minister of Industrialisation and Trade Lucia Iipumbu said it is very concerning to note that businesses in the Hardap region are not actively involved in applying and participating in efforts to grow the business sector. Iipumbu was speaking during stakeholders’ consultations with the business community in the region on Monday.
Iipumbu stated that the Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programme (IUMP) from the ministry resulted in only one successful applicant benefiting from the Hardap region, whereby a total of 44 entrepreneurs benefitted under this programme nationally to the tune of N$13 million. She added that the first phase of the Sustainable Development Goal Impact Facility (SDGIF) grants for 2020, which totalled N$2.5 million, had no beneficiary from the Hardap region.
The ministry announced the second phase of the SDGIF grants, an initiative developed and implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Namibia, Environmental Investment Fund, Standard Bank Namibia, and the MIT to provide small competitive matching business grants to tackle unemployment through impact-driven innovation and entrepreneurship. Iipumbu explained that the programme targets sectors such as tourism and hospitality as well as manufacturing.
Government recognised the importance of micro, small and medium enterprises and the role they play to develop the economy; hence, the ministry is set to implement appropriate policies and programs to enhance business growth.
“These include a draft National Informal Economy and Entrepreneurship Development Policy, which is currently in the pipeline. The policy’s objective is to develop the informal economy and its participants into a commercially viable and mainstream economy sector, which could contribute to the economic growth of our country and its inhabitants in a sustainable manner,” Iipumbu revealed.
Meanwhile, the ministry also introduced various initiatives to support entrepreneurs hard hit by the pandemic in collaboration with development partners and other stakeholders. This includes the provision of a Covid-19 grant to businesses that lost income during the pandemic lockdown, which resulted in 806 applications received by the ministry.
Iipumbu outlined that this resulted in 200 successful beneficiaries, to which only one successful applicant was from Hardap, while eight applications were received from the region.
During the second intervention, named Covid-19 Survival Grant, 13 out of 1121 applications were received from the Hardap region – and out of the 396 beneficiaries, only three were selected from Hardap, as the rest did not meet the set requirements.
Governor of the Hardap region Salomon April, at the same occasion, said the challenge of the business community to get involved is bad timing from the government. April stated that the dissemination of information is the biggest challenge, noting it should be done through the right channels.
He claimed that governors and councillors should be notified of such initiatives for them to inform the community at the right time.
“We are in need of these interventions, so if I knew of such programmes, we could have done better and could develop the business community in the region,” said April.