Moving to a Green Economy through eco-entrepreneurship
The Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia (HSF) Environmental Awareness and Climate Change Project and the Namibia Business Innovation Institute (NBII) co-hosted and facilitated three out of five workshops scheduled from March to June 2017 under the Eco-Entrepreneurship
Training and Mentorship Programme.
Environmental Awareness and Climate Change Project, Project Coordinator Lesley-Anne van Wyk in a statement said the workshops are carried out over a course of three days followed by mentorship sessions after the workshop.
“The mentorship sessions are geared to further develop the participants’ eco-businesses. The participants will be eligible to enter their business ideas into an eco-business competition later in the year and stand a chance to win a cash prize to invest into developing their business further,” she said.
The Eco-Entrepreneurship Training and Mentorship Programme seeks to train and mentor over 100 upcoming eco-entrepreneurs over the course of 2017. To date, the Eco-Entrepreneurship Training and Mentorship Programme has trained and mentored over 60 upcoming eco-entrepreneurs who are striving for eco-business opportunities that are environmentally-friendly, have potential to reduce carbon
footprints, improve the lives of communities through job creation and the provision of affordable green products.
According to Van Wyk, Namibia is currently faced with challenges such as poverty, food insecurity, climate change and environmental degradation, as well as a high youth unemployment rate.
“The Eco-Entrepreneurship Training and Mentorship Programme seeks to empower and encourage upcoming entrepreneurs to venture into innovative eco-businesses that can address these social, economic and environmental challenges and contribute to the realisation of a Green Economy
in Namibia,” she added.
Van Wyk added that the eco-entrepreneurs are a part of a broader programme which offers training, mentorship, networking, cross-learning through exchange visits and a competition for the best business plan.
During discussions, participants echoed that there is a need for more training platforms such as those provided by the HSF Environmental Awareness and Climate Change Project and the NBII which will allow them to develop and test their ecobusiness models.
Meanwhile, the participants stated that they now see themselves as a part of the broader environmental solution and are now motivated to go-ahead and launch their eco-business ideas.
Bernice Karuhumba, one of the facilitators of the workshops and Manager for the Entrepreneurship and Incubation Department at the NBII, stated that some of the challenges that eco-entrepreneurs face is acceptance by customers who question the quality and the safety of environmentally-friendly products.
Karuhumba said that there is a need to change people’s perceptions and behaviours towards environmentally friendly products. Karuhumba stated there is a need for ecoentrepreneurs to create awareness on environmentally-friendly products and the need to present a solid business case especially when trying to convince consumers and financial institutions to buy into their business idea.
Edwin Kavihuha, co-facilitator of the workshops and Entrepreneurship and Incubation Officer at NBII, stated that the Namibian government has placed great emphasis on the establishment of eco-businesses and that there is a need to incorporate ecobusinesses within other business innovations.
Kavihuha encouraged Namibians to come up with innovative business ideas and make use of the available funding opportunities that are provided by various institutions such as the Environmental
Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF).
The Eco-Entrepreneur workshops will commence on 30 May to 1 June.