Green products struggling for market penetration
Namibia’s green business seems to precariously hang by the noose as green products continue to struggle for market penetration while facing stiff competition from conventional products, it has emerged.
An investigation carried out by The Villager shows that Namibia’s eco-entrepreneurs are still struggling to get a positive reaction from the majority of customers who are shunning recycled products as either substandard or too expensive when compared to mainstream products on the shelves of Namibia’s retail outlets.
“Green products are slightly more expensive than conventional products, so there is that reluctance for people to change, they do not see the benefits of using green products, they first look at how much they cost. Such a mindset is posing a major challenge for our market penetration,” said Green Ville Solutions’ Sylver Kibelolaud, an emerging green entrepreneur in Namibia.
The quality of green products in Namibia has also been compromised owing to, as in most cases, the unavailability of adequate funding from investors, hence the failure to shoulder competition from high standard foreign manufactured products, The Villager can reveal.
Co-Founder of AgriCycle Namibia, Toivo Thomas concurred with these findings submitting that green business is still new in Namibia which explains why both government and investors are hesitant to recognise eco-entrepreneurship as a sustainable business venture.
“Maybe green business is something new in our industry but despite the many awards we have won in the business, sustainable investment remains a big challenge. We are a green eco-friendly country but it is still a huge challenge for society to accept green business,” echoed Thomas.
AgriCycles specializes in farming insects by using organic waste as an input while the insects larvae eats the waste and then out of the process getting two products, fertiliser and a highly nutritional protein source that can be used as animal feed, yet government is standing in the way due to its supposed misunderstanding of insect farming, Toivo told this publication.
Meanwhile lead retail outlets continue to reject green products on their shelves sighting their perceived poor standard, however, M&O Décor representative Taleni Matheus disputed this submitting that most eco-entrepreneurs are ensuring quality controls especially as some of the products are made from bottles which need sanitisation.
“We have approached different retailers to at least give us shelf space but then they refuse, they have the perception that recycled products are not of top quality but that is not true. We ensure quality control at all times, we sanitise our bottles to make sure that they are safe especially for children,” she said.
Matheus added that most green business owners still faced challenges with transportation of their products while contracted waste collectors are still not keen to give them waste which they need to recycle.
“We must educate the people on the importance of recycling, because what we believe is that when people have a clear understanding and knowledge about this, everyone will start going into green eco-business. There is no way people can buy our products when they are not properly educated,” added Matheus.
However, Hanns Seidel Foundation Environmental Awareness and Climate Change Project Coordinator Lesley-Anne van Wyk attest that the facts that most retail outlets do not embrace this type of products speaks volumes about entrepreneurship development in Namibia which still has a long way to go.
“We must demystify products of this particular nature and I think that requires great cooperation across different types of organisations, the retailers, the standards institutes to a larger extent as well development partners or donors and also funding institutions. We need innovation in our partnerships as well,” she explained.