Trade minister Lucia Iipumbu said micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the roots of many economies around the globe and would play the same role in Namibia if supported and developed. She said these small businesses could eventually grow into larger enterprises that would contribute greatly to the country’s gross domestic product.
Iipumbu made these remarks on Friday at the launch of the Know2Grow (K2G) initiative spearheaded by the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB).
K2G is a regional knowledge dissemination initiative for MSMEs focussing on financing and market access for sectors such as agriculture, horticulture, and food processing.
“A well skilled and equipped MSME can contribute significantly to the economy in terms of skills development, innovation, job creation, local value addition and economic growth of a country,” said Iipumbu.
The trade minister noted the decision to start the K2G in the southern part of the country as key as the ministry had observed low participation by businesses in the southern regions (Hardap and //Kharas) in funding and training initiatives rolled out in the past two years.
Some of the programmes were aimed at providing relief to businesses impacted by Covid-19. She attributed the inertia to a lack of information by small businesses.
“K2G will surely assist many MSMEs to grow and acquire the much-needed information in terms of funding and other opportunities which will aid them to grow and access market space for their products both locally and internationally,” Iipumbu said.
Furthermore, she said the ministry was currently finalising an Informal Economy and Entrepreneurship National Policy to provide guidance to entrepreneurs, especially the youth and informal traders.
She said the ministry, NIPDB and other stakeholders were in the final stages of tabling the Namibian Investment Promotion Facilitation Bill with a key provision on sector reservation to ensure certain sectors are reserved for MSMEs.
“The Bill will be accompanied by appropriate regulations such as access to SME finance, training and mentorship. A lack of shelf space remain some of the major impediments to many MSMEs growth,” said Iipumbu.
According to the minister, economic growth in Namibia is partly inhibited by overreliance on the primary sector therefore there is a need to diversify into other sectors.
At the same occasion CEO of NIPDB, Nangula Uaandja said the strategic objective of the Know2Grow initiative was to create an ecosystem to scale up MSMEs in Namibia. She said the targeted sectors would include electronics and ICT, renewable energy and green hydrogen, textile manufacturing, aquaculture, and pharmaceuticals”.
Uaandja explained that the NIPDB was just another facilitator and would bring key stakeholders on board for the initiative expected to start this month in the //Kharas region.