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Construction of SME business centre on hold

The construction and development of the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) business centre in Lüderitz has been put on hold and construction will only resume next year.
This was necessitated by the ongoing construction of the Grysblok Enterprise Centre in Wanaheda (between Khomasdal and Katutura).
Commenting on the decision to suspend construction of the Luderitz centre, SMEs Compete director, Danny Meyer said: “The matter will be reviewed when I pay a routine visit to Lüderitz later this month, but recommencement of the Lüderitz project is now likely to be linked to the relocation of SMEs Compete’s southern office to that southern port town in March 2012.”
Phase one of the project that started early this year will now only be completed by June 2012,while phase two will start in the second half of 2012 with phase three commencing in the first quarter of 2013. Once completed, the facility will have the capacity to accommodate about 12 entrepreneurs in the allocated 12 units.
The centre is being upgraded with the aim to assist entrepreneurs from townships in Lüderitz, commonly known as lokasies, to access the lucrative tourist market.
Unlike the Waterfront and the town’s SME Incubation Centre, in the long run newcomers to formal business will be helped to buy the units they rent by the firm.
“In this way we help emerging entrepreneurs become property owners and part of the enterprise sector as well as help to restore life to the Bucht. We want tourists to return to Lüderitz in the process injecting money into the local economy,” said Claudine Mouton, co-director of SMEs Compete.
In an interview early this year, Meyer told the Economist that they had observed that entrepreneurship thrives in Lüderitz, despite novices or emerging entrepreneurs facing immense challenges. The challenges include, amongst others, the cost of doing business in a small town located in a far flung corner of the country, access to funding and to affordable work space.
“It is the latter, coupled with the reason cited by visitors (lack of things to do), which spurred SMEs Compete to do something about it,” he added.
Construction and renovation of the property, comprising of 12 units that will initially consist of a theatre and an art gallery, is estimated to cost N$700,000 and a further N$400,000 was spent on the first phase renovations. “At this point we are not able to estimate the cost of phases two and three,” Meyer said.
Meanwhile, the firm also have plans in place to roll out a similar initiative for the development of SMEs business centres in five other small towns around Namibia once funding is in place.
The property development of an enterprise centre in Lüderitz is a pilot project that forms part of the firm’s growth strategy and ongoing efforts to help small firms shift business from townships into the central business district of a town.
Construction is being done by local SME building contractors and related service providers who are also SMEs.

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