Realising the potential of SMEs

Home Youth Corner Realising the potential of SMEs
Realising the potential of SMEs

The Sanlam Bridge initiative, now in its third year, is commendable for its focus on empowering young Namibians. By providing essential skills, seed capital, mentorship, and coaching, the program aims to transform the business dreams of participants into reality.

This initiative serves as a launchpad for Namibia’s future business leaders, with a specific focus on individuals with registered businesses not older than one year or those with viable business ideas but lacking financial resources. This targeted approach is vital in supporting young entrepreneurs who may face challenges in accessing traditional forms of funding or mentorship.

“Beyond initial funding and mentorship, the Sanlam Bridge programme now plays a pivotal role in connecting businesses/MSMEs with financial institutions like banks and equity funders. This strategic bridge enhances their attractiveness for future funding, creating a sustainable ecosystem for economic growth,” stated Laurencia Prinzonsky, Sanlam Group’s head of marketing and communications. 

The Sanlam Bridge is the flagship entrepreneurship programme of Sanlam supported by the Namibia Investment Promotion Development Board (NIPDB) as the implementing agency.

Prinzonsky said: “As we celebrate the success of the 2023 cohort, the anticipation for the 2024 intake is building up. Sanlam Bridge remains steadfast in its commitment to shaping the future of Namibian entrepreneurs, reinforcing its position as a catalyst for business innovation and growth.”

Each year, Sanlam selects five businesses from across the country and from different industries who each receive N$50 000 seed capital coupled with training and mentorship. All five businesses automatically benefit from the following NIPDB MSME incentives: Branding Masterclasses, Financial Symposiums, Digital Bootcamps, Business Support Weeks and the Start Improve Your Business Training Programme. The programme is open to young Namibians between the ages of 18 to 35.

African Culture was crowned the overall winner in a fiercely contested pitch. Receiving the prize, African Culture, expressed gratitude, stating: “I am delighted to have undergone this programme, equipping me with the skills to confidently present my business concept and build a sustainable brand. Thanks to Sanlam and NIPDB for investing in our craft through various initiatives.”

African Culture created “Colours of Africa”, colouring books to educate children about Namibia’s diverse cultures. 

Over the last six months, they expanded distribution to organisations like Gondwana Collection and Spar Grove Mall.

Notable and tangible input to the industry is an initiative by game designer Tutaleni Ilonga for Edugame, a Sanlam Bridge Programme 2023 top five that revolutionises education through game development in the country. With the Sanlam grant, they have scaled up which led to acquiring equipment, developing their website, and hosting workshops, resulting in 37 students enrolled last fiscal year.

The organising team says for the past few years, they have seen a wide variety of businesses coming up because of the programme, adding that several of them have gone on to grow and create employment for other Namibians.