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SMEs get Covid resilience funding

2021-10-06  Steven Klukowski

SMEs get Covid resilience funding

KEETMANSHOOP - To assist entrepreneurs recovering from Covid-19, SMEs Compete provided an opportunity to 20 small business owners to pitch their products to a panel of adjudicators for possible funding. 

One of the participants, Didi Skeyer, is the owner of Didi’s Trading Enterprises, and said she started her cosmetology business which entails hairdressing, make-up and nail beautifying in 1994. 

“In the beginning, I employed five people, but had to retrench three of them due to the impact of the coronavirus,” she explained. 

Skeyer added that the pandemic brought about reduced customer numbers due to financial constraints, forcing her to close her business for two months. 

“Business is luckily now picking up again with reduced contraction and fatality statistics as well as relaxed Covid-19 regulations.

If there are no customers, then I am sitting without an income for myself and my two employees, hence the decision to go to customers’ houses who required our services, making it a ‘win-win’ situation in the end,” she noted.

The entrepreneur said the period between September and December is normally when she gets more clients and business due to a higher demand for her services and products as most weddings and church confirmations are taking place during this period. 

She thus encouraged the unemployed to never give up hope, although it might be difficult to become first of all an employee and later on an employer of others.  

“I started by first obtaining a National Diploma in Cosmetology and furthermore got accredited as a Recognition of Prior Learning holder, enabling me now to train others”, she said. Skeyer added that although competition is tough in her trait, customer demand is always there, sustaining her business.

 Also pitching at the event was Edwin Jacobs, owner of Youth Pride Funerals, who informed New Era afterwards that contrary to the general assumption that funeral undertakers made a lot of money from Covid-19-related deaths, it is unfortunately not always the case with smaller companies like his. 

“The surviving family members at times prefer to make use of bigger, popular brands in the industry, which is really affecting us negatively,” he stated.

He said their core business entails providing affordable funeral packages to give those who passed on a decent funeral, as well as manufacturing coffins at a very small scale. 

“I started my business in 2018 after seeing the need of people who cannot afford expensive funeral services for their loved ones,” Jacobs added. 

He explained that his biggest challenge is employees not willing to handle the remains of those who succumbed due to Covid-19-related illnesses out of fear of contracting the disease. 

“Based on this, I am now employing two permanent and two temporary persons at this stage,” said the businessman. 

Jacobs also urged unemployed youth to pick up best practices when travelling around Namibia, and to bring it down to the //Kharas region through securing funding or starting on a small scale.

SMEs Compete is a social entrepreneurship entity that helps SMEs grow their businesses and create jobs. It has developed an array of services that focus on capacity- building, growth and skills honing. 

Close to 270 participants will receive grants in the country’s 14 regions, whereby more than N$4 million has been disbursed so far. 

2021-10-06  Steven Klukowski

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