The Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, has called on society to adopt innovation as a method of fostering healthy competition and promoting financial inclusion.
Speaking at a the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) Good Business Award and Innovation Awards last week in Windhoek, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said innovation is not only needed in science and technology but is imperative in all walks of life.
“Innovation is a route to financial inclusiveness, in some cases, the existing financial services infrastructure can be a barrier to innovation,” said Amadhila, adding that Namibia needs to ensure that regulatory frameworks and supervisory practices give space for competition.
The minister pointed out that innovation can promote formal financial sector participation by individuals and SMEs.
A large number of companies the world over are comprehending the significance of innovation to gain competitive advantage as they engage in pioneering activities, ranging from business processes, product development, brand building edges to customer satisfaction.
Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) Board Member, Albie Basson, concurred with Amadhila, saying innovation is sometimes not afforded adequate space that it needs to thrive as it is seen as a risk to capital preservation.
Basson said this was due to the fact that most ideas are most likely untried and untested.
“Through the innovation award, DBN is seeking to unlock the potential gains of innovation. The appraisal of finance for innovation may be hampered by a short term view, but a longer term view should be encouraged in order to envision benefits of innovation and returns to investments in the future,” said Basson.
He emphasised that the evolution of Vision 2030 envisions more weight on human capital, pointing out that such an approach will develop thinkers and intellectual capacity, with consequent visionary ideas.
“Innovation is a potential resource for the future, provided it is nurtured with forethought for its potential in enterprise and with finance,” he said.
The winners of the awards were all from the transport and logistics sector, with the Innovation Award going to a financial product related to the transport sector. Namib Industrial Group’s product ‘Eenda Nawa – Go Safe’ scooped the award.
Eenda Nawa is travel insurance for persons using public transport, particularly taxis and long distance buses.
The innovative aspect emanated from a concept where members of the public using any form of transport on Namibian Roads can send a short message to Eenda Nawa as payment for insurance cover for any potential accidents during the 24-hour period.
Namib Industrial Group identified a gap in the market for insurance cover on Namibian roads, and cited the nation’s relatively high number of accidents.
In the event of an accident, the product provides pay-outs to individuals or families, depending on the cover selected. The cover is applicable to hospitalisation and funeral expenses.
Runners-up in the Innovation Award were Smart Solutions and Malakia Tyre Recycling.
The winner in the category Large Enterprise was transport company The Six Thousand Transport CC.
The company received DBN finance to expand its truck fleet to provide contracted transport to large manufacturers, subcontract to large logistics groups and provide transport for smaller retailers.
Tungeni Africa Investments and J&A Popular Inn were runners-up in the large enterprise category and were awarded certificates of merit.
In the SME category was Raino’s Trucks, which specialises in truck repairs and delivery vehicles.
It has established workshops in Windhoek, Ondangwa, Grootfontein and Khorixas and holds contracts with the government and the City of Windhoek.
It has twice been financed by DBN, once to acquire premises in Windhoek, and Grootfontein. The company employs approximately 43 people.
Runners-up in SME category were Olupembana Bricks and Okozozepa Investments, both of whom received certificates of merit.
A panel of DBN personnel and independent external judges adjudicated the contestants.
The various categories were judged on similar baseline criteria, with additional criteria appropriate to the category.
The baseline criteria focused on development impact, business administration and corporate social responsibility.
Scores for the Innovation Award were calculated on the basis of innovation, viability and development impact.