Businesses pitching to receive assistance from a recovery scheme that lends support to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19 has reached the final stages. The scheme has been providing support to the private sector, specifically to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to cushion the adverse impacts on business. It is being implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, as well as the Ministry of Finance.
According to the junior technical advisor of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Sharon Zaaruka, the programme has so far supported 124 small businesses across Namibia, including 72 female and 52 male-owned businesses. The businesses that received vital support and financial grants have also received coaching and mentoring in their regions.
“The final sessions, which continue to be implemented by SME Compete, will run from 30 November to 20 December 2020 and will engage the regions that have not yet taken part in the pitch for business recovery,” said Zaaruka.
The four regions that will still host the pitches for business recovery are Oshana, Omusati, Kunene – and finally, the Khomas regions.
The grants are to be used and implemented to provide support for business survival during this unprecedented economic downturn – and businesses are asked to demonstrate their viability and sustainability, as well as to reflect growth potential in terms of income and job creation.
Zaaruka further said the scheme was created to stabilise micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in all 14 regions that have suffered severe losses due to a sharp drop in demand after the Covid-19 state of emergency measures.
Zaaruka explained the pitch for recovery events consists three training and pitching competitions. “Namibian businesses pitch their ideas on how to recover their businesses to a jury. The selected winners subsequently receive coaching and financial assistance on how to sustainably execute their ‘recovery-plan’,” she explained.
In total, 27 participants will be trained per region. From these 27 participants, only 18 are invited to pitch – and among these 18 SMEs, nine will receive a financial grant to be managed and paid out to their suppliers by the implementing consultant.
The grant will not be in cash but as payment to suppliers; for example, for the procurement of material goods, machines and equipment.
According to Chris McClune, owner of McClune’s Shuttle Service, the Erongo region’s first prize winner, the empowering program came at the time when Covid-19 had devastating effects on a lot of companies.
“A few days with this program gave me a whole new perspective on what went wrong in my business and how to learn from the negatives and do better than before,” McClune stated.