While it is often overlooked, World SME day should be a permanent fixture on the calendars of Namibians because of the roles that these enterprises play in the socio-economic development of the country.
These were the sentiments that were shared by Standard Bank’s Head of Enterprise Banking, Dennis Isaacs, as the Bank celebrated the day on Wednesday this week.
“I have often said that I prefer to call them Enterprises as opposed to Small/Medium Enterprises, because they are not small or medium to the entrepreneurs who run them or the countless Namibians who benefit from them. Notwithstanding, it is important that we celebrate World SME Day because these enterprises are the backbone of our economy,” Isaacs said explaining why it is important to celebrate the day.
These enterprises’ potential to create employment and contribute to economic growth of a country holds true for both developed and developing countries.
Admittedly, a lot of people have not heard about the day which is disheartening. 27 June was declared World SME Day by the UN General Assembly in a bid to focus on the importance of micro-, small and medium sized enterprises in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular promoting innovation, creativity and decent work for all.
“Enterprises are the source of a decent livelihood for many people and that is not something small, they contribute immensely to the country’s GDP and what we often overlook is the challenges that these entrepreneurs face daily to successfully run their business,” he stressed.
Enterprises are a major driver of poverty alleviation and development. They tend to employ a larger share of the vulnerable sectors of the workforce, such as women, youth, and people from poorer households. They are sometimes also the only source of employment in rural areas.
While these enterprises are the first responders to societal needs, they often face a multitude of challenges, chief among them is financial constraints.
An optimistic Isaac however said this should be viewed as an opportunity arises for policy makers and the private sector to intervene at various levels to try to encourage the formalization, participation and growth of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in international, regional and national markets, including through access for all to capacity-building and financial services, such as affordable microfinance and credit.
“At Standard Bank we understand and appreciate the hardships entrepreneurs go through to make a success of their enterprises. As we celebrate this day, I would like to stress that we are here to help you start, manage and grow your enterprise, so let us help you,” he concluded.