Team Namibia and Finland assist SMEs to run viable businesses

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Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK – At the conclusion of Team Namibia’s entrepreneurial training programme, which was funded by the Embassy of Finland to the value of N$1.76 million, the member-based organisation honoured the owners of 16 outstanding Katutura-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs). To this end an award ceremony was  held at Xwama Cultural Village in Katutura, Windhoek on Thursday, 23 January 2020.
“Out of 400 applicants that wanted to participate in this project, we can say that these 16 are running viable businesses. With much energy and commitment, Team Namibia and the Development Consultants for Southern Africa with the constant support of the Finnish Embassy, engaged every one of the participants to ensure that optimal learning is achieved. The training allowed Katutura-based entrepreneurs to gain more knowledge and insight in order to run their businesses more effectively, with the creation of sustainable businesses, generation of income and the employment of others,” said Bärbel Kirchner, account director of Team Namibia. 
The project, called the Mobilisation of Production and Trade Capacities of Namibian Small Enterprises in Katutura, aimed to train and mentor 25 selected small-to-medium sized business owners from Katutura by equipping them with the ability to establish successful enterprises. 
Those awarded had been invited to participate in 25 days of training on basic business principles, preparation of business plans, introduction of marketing, business management and organisations, as well as costings. Additionally, participants were also trained on e-mail, internet and social media marketing. As a result, many now have pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and have been taught to create their images by using the graphic design tool Canva.
All participants are based in Katutura, and many have been busy in the informal sector. Today, these businesses are registered businesses, mostly close corporations. Most have opened their business bank accounts to increasingly start differentiating between their business and their personal income, which is a good start to gain personal financial control.
Products and services provided by the businesses include the production of paper flowers and décor for extensive wedding and events market, the production of marshmallows, cakes, cupcakes and eggs as well as the manufacturing and supply of cleaning material and washing powder. Services include design, tailoring and sewing, building maintenance, information technology services and low-cost container housing.  Finally, there are those that impart their knowledge through their training businesses, in customer services, in health care for the elderly, and computer software training, respectively.
The keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, Ambassador Pirkko-Lisa Kyöstilä from the Embassy of Finland, who emphasised the importance of supporting local entrepreneurs, and said “as consumers we acknowledge and understand the weight of our own choices. We all can make a difference by supporting local products and services. When you buy a Made in Namibia product, you not only promote job creation and growth, but you also act in a climate wise manner, protecting our beautiful planet earth”.
Apart from receiving certificates of attendance, with the support of local sponsors, some participants were also awarded in special categories. This included, “best commitment” and “best organisation” (awarded to Selma Nampila for tailoring and sewing services);  “best marketing and new business leads” (awarded to Ndahekelekwa Paulus for the production of marshmallows); “best turnover” (awarded to Gabriel Uirab for providing training services in health care); and “best employment creation”, “best financing /investment” as well as the award for “overall improvement” (awarded to Alweendo Shipopyeni for providing computer software training services). 
Kirchner also expressed gratitude to all sponsors and said:  “Team Namibia wishes to thank the following sponsors for their invaluable support. Denu Stationers, First National Bank of Namibia, Kolok Namibia, Namib Mills, Plastic Packaging, Pupkewitz Holdings and Standard Bank Namibia. We appreciate that you joined in on our effort to show respect, admiration, and support for our local entrepreneurs. Events like this can provide just the encouragement a local business owner needs to continue to keep our economy healthy, and can show our national leaders how important the contributions of our local businesses are.”
“In a current economic environment, there is limited cash in circulation. Yet with the obstacles we are facing today, our participants have created opportunities for themselves and others in their immediate community. The biggest thank you that you can give is, that you will stay committed and drive forward, and above all continue to enjoy your new journey on the road to success,” Kirchner concluded.