19 April 2012

Namibia: Learning About Social Entrepreneurship in Otjinene


This week we are going to learn more about an amazing group of people in the Omaheke region.

They are known as the Ovaherero with whom I am involved in a voluntary project through a non-governmental organizational called the Regional Agriculture and Environment Initiatives Networks - Africa (RAIEN - Africa), which operates in at least five SADC countries.

The primary function of RAIEN - Africa is to promote participatory development of appropriate science and technology of the environment and agricultural production systems. This is done by facilitating partnerships between government and civil society and end-user groups in order to drive development among communities.

To carry out the objectives of RAIEN - Africa I am involved with a few young scientists from the Government sector to bring about hope and change in the community of Otjinene. In early February we undertook our first community visit to the region.

After a 236 kilometere drive on a gravel road we arrived safely at our destination. From a distance, we could notice the communities in full swing busy with their entrepreneurial activities; amongst many others the herding of cows, and if one moves closer into the centre of the village a number of self-made shops can be noticed, which disappears late at night, and the roads are clear as if no business activities were going on.

Otjinene is a living village by day and night. While we were busy with our tasks and observations, school kids could be noticed at a distance going for their first "uit naweek" with suitcases on their heads in a straight line with bare feet back to the farms nearby.

As both insider and outsider researchers it was fascinating to notice how communities engage themselves in various entrepreneurial activities without being fully aware, that they are busy with an entrepreneurial act.

I must admit on behalf of my platform team the food was amazing, the meat in particular.

As volunteers our task is to introduce new technologies and innovative systems to the community. In addition to introducing the technology we must inform, educate and ensure that the community is able to sustain themselves in the long run.

The very first day of our entry into the community was an orientation of the project to the community. In return we got to learn more about the people of Otjinene. First it was critical that we introduced the various themes for the week, which were diseases in animals, feeding, artificial insemination, marketing and the social challenges communities will experience when using innovation and new technological systems.

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