Swakopmund — The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry has urged residents of the town who will be utilising the open market opened here on Friday to take care of the facility.
Speaking at the opening of the first phase of the Arandis open market on Friday, Deputy Minister Tjekero Tweya urged the community to take care of the open market so that future generations can also benefit from it.
He said the government believes that the Small, Micro and Medium-sized Enterprise (SMME) sector is the most important source of sustainable employment creation and a viable contributor to national economic growth and development.
It is as a result of the importance of the SMME sector that the government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has devised deliberate programmes aimed at promoting the development of the sector, he noted.
"These support programmes are aimed at assisting SMEs to grow and expand their businesses and assisting new and aspiring entrepreneurs to conceptualise and translate their business ideas into bankable business plans and actual self-employment businesses," Tweya said.
He explained that some of the support services that the ministry provides are the equipment aid scheme, the provision of technical and advisory services and the creation of an SME bank that will open its doors to the public soon.
"These programmes are helping many of our local business people and SMEs to get their businesses off the ground, but as a nation we need to do more to help them improve the operation of the businesses," the deputy minister noted.
He further indicated that with the support of government and the private sector, as well as the willingness of people to work hard, there are great prospects for development in all parts of the country, including rural areas and the least-developed communities.
The open market is a result of a need for trading space as identified by the majority of SMEs here. The small businesses were previously forced to operate from residences, meaning they were deprived of exposure and proper service delivery. The informal traders therefore requested the Arandis Town Council to create a formal facility from where they could operate. The first phase of the market comprises 16 business units, which can accommodate approximately 30 mixed traders.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Arandis Mayor Daniel Muhuura said the opening of the first-ever open market here was welcomed by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), especially those who were forced to operate as hawkers.
"Based on the fact that SMEs are the backbone of the economy, we sat down and formalised strategies that will enable the hawkers to have a formal trading zone," he said. The Arandis Town Council conducted a baseline study in 2005 in order to understand the economic challenges the town faced. The study revealed that SMEs operating at the town included a large spectrum of enterprises. Muhuura said Areva Resources Namibia assisted the town council with N$515 192 for the first construction of the first phase of the open market.
He urged other institutions to emulate Areva's example. In addition, Muhuura said the town has "outgrown the fear of progress" and believes that partnering with investors will pave the way for it to become an industrial hub. He told the traders present at the opening that they should use the space as a stepping-stone to the bigger business industry, instead of remaining small businesses.
Areva Country Manager Hilifa Mbako indicated that Areva's focus for 2012 is local economic development with a specific emphasis on supporting SMEs.