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Business support at grassroots

The lack of an entrepreneurial spirit, restricted access to research, a lack of available coaching and the absence of mentoring are the core reasons why many upcoming and small businesses fail in their infancy stages, said the Chief Executive Officer of Sanlam Namibia Holdings, Tertius Stears when he launched the Sanlam Innovation Works competition earlier this week in Windhoek. As its contribution to help rectify this problem, Sanlam partnered with the Polytechnic of Namibia’s Business Innovation Institute (NBII) offering a public platform in the form of a competition to provide start-up funding for businesses at early-stage development that addresses the key issues in innovation. The first Sanlam Innovation Works competition will be funded with N$120,000 to incentivise small businesses to participate and win themselves capital for investment. Stears indicated that the competition will become an annual event with the specific goal of making start-up capital available to small businesses. But to access these funds, the prospective business owners must participate in the competition. The competition seeks the top five viable business proposals selected from the entries that are put forward between 16 September and 31 October 2014. The top five will each receive start-up capital of N$20,000 at the beginning of their individual proposals. During the course of January to August 2015, these top five winners will receive mentorship and training as well as advisory services from the Business Innovation Institute and Sanlam in order to fast tract the establishment of their businesses.

The final winner will be awarded an additional N$20,000 at the awards ceremony that will take place in September next year. At the launch Stears said “The programme is dynamic, unique and different in that we do not just provide funds for start-up capital, but we, through our partner, the Polytechnic, also offer coaching, mentoring and skills transfer to the recipient of the seed capital.” “The Sanlam Innovation Works project is aimed at unlocking the potential ideas in aspiring entrepreneurs, to develop them as a whole,” he said adding that “the project is going to equip the participants with invaluable information from our own Sanlam Financial Advisors and the hands-on training from Business Innnovation Institute professionals.” Polytechnic Rector, Tjama Tjivikua said mentorship, coaching, networking opportunities and finance are critical factors which every entrepreneur requires and the Sanlam Innovation Works project in collaboration with the Business Innovation Institute will provide such a platform. “The Namibia Business and Investment Climate Survey (NamBIC Survey) of 2014 has outlined the importance of enterprise development initiatives, as they contribute to business creation and growth. The strategy calls for public and private sector dialogues and the Polytechnic and Sanlam Namibia have heeded the call,” he said.

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