Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein has called for the full support of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Speaking at the Kavango Trade Fair 2014 in Rundu today, Trade and Industry minister Carl Schlettwein said the SME sector underpins the economic and political calculus in any society.
He said that the Ministry of Trade and Industry has various programmes and facilities in place to assist the SME sector to establish and grow their businesses.
“It is high time for local investors to give up the culture of thinking only of making quick profits. Let’s think long term, as opposed to short term so that we can create robust entities and much needed employment opportunities for our people as we strive to develop our country further for the benefit of all our people,” said Schlettwein.
This year’s trade fair theme is entitled “Promoting Regional Development for Sustainable and Economic Transformation.”
The fair is primarily aimed at ensuring the promotion and development of trade and industry activities in Rundu, Nkurenkuru and all other areas in the former Kavango Region, now demarcated into the Kavango East and Kavango West Regions.
“It is my firm belief that events of this nature create opportunities for regional and local authorities to market and attract capital and much needed investment to their respective towns and regions,” he said.
He pointed out that the role of government is to create a conducive environment by legislating and implementing appropriate and relevant policies, laws and regulations for the private sector to operate smoothly.
Schlettwein said these programmes are aimed at assisting entrepreneurs with various forms of support such as business plan formulation, conducting of feasibility studies, providing mentorship, facilitation of securing markets and improving the quality of local products and services among others.
In this vein, government has already established and capitalised the SME bank to assist the sector with affordable finance on flexible quasi commercial terms.
He said that most small businesses fail within their starting-up stage of operation due to under capitalization and lack of proper management skills and in order to overcome the adverse situation, the ministry has, throughout the country constructed SME business parks or market facilities which will be converted into incubation centres.
“We are further constructing industrial parks, warehousing and in future also specific manufacturing facilities as our contribution to enhancing value addition to raw materials and increasing our manufacturing capacity,” said Schlettwein.
He told people in attendance that SMEs at government facilities pay below market rents and share reduced building maintenance responsibilities resulting in job creation, retention, and increased output and revenue.
“It is my understanding that the development of these business facilities is therefore, also aimed at creating economic independence and self-employment, as opposed to Namibia remaining a country of job seekers,” he said.
To date, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has constructed SME parks in the Kavango Region which are all in full operation.
These are the SME Parks in Rundu and Nkurenkuru as well as a Woodwork Common Facility Centre in Rundu
Furthermore, the ministry has also invested a total of N$ 12,12 million for the construction of related facilities in this region alone.