Fifty women entrepreneurs from all 14 regions in Namibia were trained on business skills ans knowledge this week through the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA).
The initiative, according to BIPA Chief Executive Officer Vivienne Katjiuongua, is to give women skills and knowledge and technical know- how they need to utilise intellectual property rights as strategic instruments to property rights and as strategic instruments to propel their companies forward.
Lavinia Nghifilenya, a tailor, said the training was useful, especially for women who venture into new emerging businesses.
“Being a business woman in Namibia is very hard because every woman in Namibia wants to copy what others are doing. I have also learned what the role of a business woman is in society, and why we should register our businesses,” Nghifilenya said.
According to BIPA’s latest statistics, of the 43,938 individuals registered as new business owners last year, 27,000 were male and 17,000 female.
Another trainee, Rakkel Mwandi told The Villager that the initiative was significant for women in business.
Mwandi said many women start businesses without registering their products and brands and when they find out that someone else is copying their product, they have no way to report it because the business is not yet registered as it should be.
“It is very important to register your trade mark, copyright, design or pattern. This will enable you to have your own business and no one will steal your idea, or do the same thing you are doing,” said added.
Katjiuongua said a lack of knowledge and support to identify, protect and leverage their intellectual property (IP) assets, has been one of the main stumbling blocks for women in business in Namibia.
“This will have an impact on the lives of the women, as well as the Namibian economy as a whole. When women are empowered to protect and leverage their IP assets, we can open up new doors for innovation, job creation and economic growth,” Katjiuongua said.
World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Programme Officer, Julieta Nhane reiterated the fact that many Namibian women produce income for whole families and create jobs for their communities.
Nhane explained that, according to the International Labour Organisation data, women suffer limited access to skills, education and resources, as well as a lack of business management capabilities, prohibiting them from earning equal or more income than their male counterparts.
“We believe that now is the time to acknowledge these barriers and constraints, such as limited access to funding, training, support systems, mentorship and networking opportunities. We applaud the government of Namibia’s efforts to overcome them,” he said.
The WIPO Programme Officer also indicated that steps need to be taken to establish a robust business environment in which women are equipped with knowledge and skills to boost employment and expand the availability of entrepreneurial possibilities, like for example a National Gender Policy, which is particularly important.