Entrepreneurship is regarded as the core of economic growth as Namibia is faced with a high unemployment rate.
With partnership of various stakeholders, there can be great impact in the growth and development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) market, says Bank Windhoek Executive Officer of Retail Banking Chris Matthee.
“It is important to realise that the challenges facing the SME sector need to be addressed through collective efforts such as partnership between Bank Windhoek (BW), Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) and First National Bank (FNB). All over the world, the SME sector has become a key driver of economic growth, wealth creation and employment and we must strive to achieve the same in Namibia,” he says.
Mathee spoke at the recently concluded SME Expo held over a three day period, allowing over 70 exhibitors from all over the country to market their services and products. SME Compete organised the exposition.
Various SMEs owners expressed their appreciations towards the exposure given at the expo.
Penina Martin, a Bank Windhoek client and owner of a business specialising in African attire, wedding dresses and kiddie’s clothes from Arandis ,advised aspiring entrepreneurs that business is not always smooth which does not necessary mean one should give up.
Martin employs four peoples and provide internship to two students from the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT) every year.
Salatiel Hatutale of Liiza Shoe Maker and a client of Bank Windhoek’s ESME Branch also stressed that supporting Namibian businesses is the only way that businesses can grow and contribute to the Namibian economy.
Salatiel started his business in 2009 and received funding from Bank Windhoek. Operating from Oshakati and Okongo, he sells leather goods such as handbags, purses, wallets, belts and employs five people.
Bank Windhoek has been financing SMEs through a dedicated SME branch since 2000.
Managing Consultant of Dynamic Concepts Limited and Member of the Global Corporate Governance Forum Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) of the World Bank, Patrick Chisanga, notes that SMEs do face a number of challenges today in Namibia and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) generally.
“Compliance with legislation tends to be a big challenge for the majority of the SMEs due to the bureaucracy and costs involved in registering new businesses. Therefore SMEs have much less capacity to navigate through the necessary complexities of regulations than larger firms do,” he points out.
He adds that lack of finances for start ups is a major impediment to the operations of SMEs, as well as the lack of market research which often makes SMEs to under invest in activities and services that could potentially enhance their productivity.
He then suggested that they should simplify the business registration process and that government and the private sector should work together to promote the needs of SMEs in a more robust manner.
The SME Expo was launched in 2006 and in the past 8 years, it has grown to becoming the highlight on the country’s annual business calendar.