SME expo attracts more exhibitors
The eighth edition of Namibia SME Expo that places the country’s small and medium enterprise (SME) sector under the spotlight, opened on Wednesday this week. This years expo attracted 80 exhibitors. In his motivational speech at the expo’s opening Zambian business leader, Patrick Chisanga, commended entrepreneurs who own and operate small enterprises for their significant and frequently unrecognised contribution towards development of the economies of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Official statistics reflect that Namibia has witnessed a phenomenal growth in the number of start-up businesses during the past two decades. Records show that almost 40,000 SMEs are registered in Namibia” he said. Chisanga however noted that it has been observed that a great number of of these new businesses crash land during the first twenty-four months of their existence and in most cases before fully taking off. Available data indicates that approximately 75% of the small-scale businesses belong to the failure group. He added that it is important to create an enabling environment in which small businesses can operate, innovate and create the needed jobs as a strategy to better economic development. “SMEs play a significant role in the transition of agriculture led economies to industrial economies by creating opportunities for processing activities, which generate sustainable sources of revenue and enhance the development process. From the socio-economic development point of view, SMEs provide a variety of benefits. SMEs have advantages over large-scale businesses because they can adapt easily to market conditions and they can withstand adverse economic conditions given their flexible nature” he said. Chisanga also noted that the lack of finance for start-ups, failure to comply with relevant legislation, the lack of trust from suppliers , the lack of market research and unregulated competition, are some of the challenges that SMEs in the country and the SADC region face. He recommended that the government and private sector need to work more closely together to address the needs of SMEs in a robust manner and that the business registration process must be simplified. He said there is a need for an SME information centre specificallydesigned to help SMEs with development and market trends, and to help them gain access to conventional marketing channels.