Government supports the development of SMEs
The Government of Namibia has adopted and pursued policies and programmes aimed at fostering an environment where its citizens can have access to resources and undertake economic activities that will result in the improvement of their social welfare and national economic growth and development.
One such policy is the “Growth at Home” Strategy which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The strategy is premised on the developmental focus of the country’s Vision 2030 and the current National Development Plan (NDP 4).
The policy emphasises collaborative efforts and investments by both the Government and business sector in developing adequate industrial production and supply-side capacity that will help the country to process and turn its natural resources into finished or semi-finished goods for consumption at home and for exports.
Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Trade and Industry said that policy initiatives and programmes in support of indigenous businesses and SMEs in general, have delivered and continue to deliver tangible results. Thousands of SMEs and community based business initiatives have been established and have decent premises to set up and do business from, while others were able to secure start-up capital from commercial banks through a loan guarantee facility that was set up by the Government and which has now been replaced by the SME Bank.
He said in the government’s search for solutions to poverty and unemployment, it recognises the small and medium scale enterprises and indigenous businesses as useful vehicles for creating employment opportunities and self-help economic activities that will in turn reduce incidences of poverty and enhance sustained economic growth, a fair distribution of income and wealth and social harmony.
“Many more small business operators are able to produce more efficiently and are able to supply large businesses with the help that they have received through our equipment aid scheme and a range of other business support services in the areas or project conceptualization and development, business management skills, product development and marketing,” added Schlettwein.
He further said, the government has since 1997 developed and has been implementing a policy and series of programmes aimed at addressing the challenges that often hamper the effective establishment, operation and growth of the SME sector and the sector’s potential to contribute to employment, exports and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“The main challenges identified, and thus the focus of our policy interventions, are access to finance, marketing, production technology and equipment, business infrastructure and entrepreneurial skills. In response we have designed a number of targeted interventions in the following areas, improving access to Finance, and our interventions here have resulted in the establishment of an SME Bank; we also developed and provide affordable basic business infrastructure for leasing by SMEs across the country through its Business Sites and Premises Development Programme.”
“The provision of Production Equipment and Technology, an Equipment Aid Scheme; assistance with product development and marketing as well as linkage of small scale producers to retail outlets; and
entrepreneurial skills development and business mentorship,” added Schlettwein.