‘Don’t wait for your next opportunity; create it’ is one of the mottos Tom Shilongo, a young entrepreneur, always lives by.
After noticing the lack of support of budding entrepreneurs in the country, Shilongo, a self-employed social and media entrepreneur, created ‘Launch Namibia’, a business platform for Namibian-based SMEs and start-ups to be profiled to the mass market in Namibia.
Launch Namibia was established in 2018 and its mandate is to maximise the use of entrepreneurs’ talents and skills in support of the innovation industry.
“We give them a kick-start by putting them in the limelight and motivate young Namibians to start businesses for themselves, contributing towards economic growth,” said Shilongo, further acknowledging the rise of the high unemployment rate in the country. In a brief chat with Youth Corner, the 2019 Mandela Washington fellowship further explained that Launch Namibia strives to create an entrepreneurship ecosystem in Namibia and the company is geared around the start-up community.
“We have a core mandate of ensuring collaboration between start-ups, government, as well as municipal and private companies to support the growth of companies and the creation of jobs,“ he said.
Last month, the company launched their first pitch night, where entrepreneurs shared a holistic view of their business model to the start-up community, allowing them to not only demonstrate their innovative capabilities but also to market their (potential) business, network, secure partnerships and solicit feedback.
“I thrive on the belief that if Namibia is to see a social transformation in terms of quality of life for individuals, then economic development and job creation should become a reality,” he stressed.
Although many young Namibians believe in searching for employment, Shilongo trusts that the system has worked for some people; however, it can be a different case for others – that’s the reason many are on the streets without jobs.
“Most of our lives, we are taught about the one way to escape poverty: “Go to school and get a job”; we are taught to become job seekers instead of job creators, knowing very well that our families cannot inherit the jobs we have,” he stated.
Since its establishment, Launch Namibia has also been giving out annual start-up awards to deserving start-ups.