MSMEs: Key to an inclusive and sustainable recovery
By Lucia Iipumbu
Minister of Industrialisation and Trade.
The United Nations General Assembly in 2017 declared 27 June as the day Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day are celebrated around the world and rightly so.
Most people just assume it’s the large companies, the tech-driven companies, large petrochemical industrial giants or car manufacturers that keep the local, regional and global economy thriving.
Their position and contribution is not questioned, however its MSME’s that are the real drivers of the economy. Globally, formal and informal MSMEs make up over 90% of all firms and account, on average, for 70% of total employment and 50% of GDP.
The United Nations chooses to highlight and celebrate this contribution that the often forgotten or in the very least marginalised MSMEs make, they are the real drivers of the economy from a grass roots level and up. In Namibia the informal economy and the MSMEs are the true engines of the economy, and during the global COVID-19 pandemic it became clear how many people and their families depend on income generation through their small enterprises.
The MSME’s are also are among the most concerned about climate change: 68% of companies in sub-Saharan Africa say that environmental risks are significant to their business, according to research by the International Trade Centre (ITC). That is why in 2021 the theme of MSME Day is; MSME 2021: key to an inclusive and sustainable recovery. MSMEs are the backbone of our economies, now is the time to create the foundation across the board for an equitable and sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery.
In Namibia the informal economy and the small businesses work across all imaginable sectors, from cosmetics, mining, manufacturing, food service industry and many more.
Our Ministry strives to improve the business environment and conditions for businesses including the MSMEs through initiatives covering both the policy, legislative, regulatory, institutional and program framework specifics. The MSMEs Policy the ministry has introduced in 2016 is clearly ensuring appropriate definition of the sector as well as providing guidance on how the country should support our MSMEs.
The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) plays an important role through the Industry Growth Strategies (IGS) in assisting these small business, develop, market, grow and thrive. The reason for championing these small enterprises is that they have a disproportionately large impact on developing an economy.
Increasing annual investments in small and medium-sized enterprises by $1 trillion would yield disproportionate high dividends in terms of progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The MIT channels this support to MSMEs through the IGS which were launched for several sectors including Metal Fabrication, Charcoal Production, Gemstones, Swakara Wool, Handicrafts, Wildlife Products and the Cosmetics industry, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This IGS are implemented by the MIT and in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)’ Promotion of Business Advisory and Economic Transformation Services (ProBATS) programme under the German-Namibian Development Cooperation. Ongoing initiatives includes the “Pitching for Resilience” Programme which will take place in all 14 Regions and give MSMEs a fighting chance.
The importance and need for MSME’s cannot be underestimated and their impact and contribution should be celebrated every day but June 27th’s International Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day is a good start.
One can only hope that people understand that their friend, neighbour, family member or people working in the community are not only hustling and trying to survive, they are literally the engine that will allow the Namibian economy to survive, rebound and make the nation resilient in these challenging times. So, honour them by buying what is produced, grown or developed locally.