For the past few years, Namibia has seen a drastic upward change in youth empowerment and more young people taking up spaces in decision-making positions.
The younger generation has made it clear that their voices go beyond being tokens at discussions that pertain to issues concerning them by taking steps towards building a future they would like to live in.
One of the movements at the helm of youth empowerment in Namibia is the Junior Chamber International (JCI), a worldwide federation of young leaders and entrepreneurs.
JCI was established in Namibia in 1998 by the National Youth Council (NYC) and operates as a definite positive factor in the advancement of Namibian society through providing opportunities for young active citizens.
They are a solution-driven youth group that intends to propose tangible solutions to some challenges young Namibians are facing.
“We have observed the suffering of young entrepreneurs in this country. The business environment is not favourable for young people,” said JCI president Efraim Paulus.
As per the objectives of the organisation, the group of proactive young citizens aims is to represent the general economic interests of young entrepreneurs.
The organisation also plans to contribute and influence decision making at high levels, facilitate access to resources and skills, and make business opportunities available to young entrepreneurs.
“The policies in place to support young entrepreneurs and create an enabling environment for doing business are seemingly failing. This situation is causing tremendous despair among young entrepreneurs – some even dropped out of formal education to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations,” stated Paulus.
He said they have observed that processes of advancing young people’s entrepreneurial endeavours take quite long, therefore delaying them from achieving economic growth.
Some of the challenges he pointed out include costly requirements when submitting funding applications; the unwillingness of government offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) to support young people’s ideas; the cost of business registration, and maintenance of a business without revenue.
To help alleviate some of these challenges, Paulus said they plan to conduct a scoping exercise to identify all business proposals that have not “seen the light of day” due to administrative red tape.
Furthermore, to instruct OMAs to voluntarily report quarterly how many youth entrepreneurs they have assisted and, therefore, indicate their progress on the implementation of the youth policy.
The current committee of JCI, consisting of 48 members, was elected earlier this year and will serve for two years.
They have, so far, been involved in social community programmes, engaged with hundreds of youths to create change, and built solid youth networks. The group remains committed to empowering underprivileged youth by providing them with spaces to participate.
A multitude of youth organisations have for many years embarked on tackling similar issues as JCI.
Asked what makes their organisation different and how they plan to effectively achieve their mandate, JCI director Ngeendina Angula said: “We are that platform that will take what we say on paper forward and bring it to life, because in a short period of time, since we were elected, we have done quite a lot in our communities, and we are practicing what we preach”.
She said, at the moment, they are also trying to assist a group of young people who need financial aid to jumpstart their businesses.
“We are trying to find ways on how we can help them. We are not just here to fill up space or make our resume look good; we are here to bring change in young people’s lives,” she added.
Paulus is encouraging other young people to join the organisation.
“We are calling on young people to come on board and participate in decisions that affect their lives, which in turn can lead to real positive change in the community,” he said.
More information about JCI Namibia can be found on its social media platforms.