Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Ongwediva Anual Trade Fair Creating Value for Local Markets

This year's annual trade fair theme "creating a value chain for local markets", is supported by the ideals of Team Namibia and the "My Namibia, My pride" campaign. The initiatives rest on the premise that extraordinary effort is required to encourage support for Namibian businesses and to create sustainability for the local economy while not discouraging foreign investment. This sentiment was expressed by Tim Ekandjo, MTC Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer at the opening ceremony of the trade fair on Monday, 27 August 2012.

According to Ekandjo, the theme speaks directly to the ideals of driving and steering a national agenda underscored by the noble principles of Vision 2030 where the objective is clear that Namibia should become an industrialised country by the year 2030. "The Ogwediva Annual Trade Fair is well-positioned to make an impactful contribution to adding value to this value chain for local markets by giving them the platform that they would under normal circumstances never have enjoyed. We still have huge disparities between upcoming businesses and those already established," Ekandjo stated.

He added that because of the global village we live in, local businesses find it difficult to compete with their counterparts, and thus felt it was paramount to deliberately create more platforms for such businesses to grow shielded from directly competing with their more established counterparts. "We need to find a way to empower the exhibitors, and putting them in the forefront of doing business, and guard against the trade fair just becoming a social come together. It would for instance be interesting to know how many businesses have grown positively as a result of their participation in this trade fair over the years," Ekandjo said.

Furthermore, he said it would also be interesting to know what the value of the trade fair's contribution is to business during the two weeks versus the cost of hosting the trade fair, adding that such statistics are important to show Business Namibia what a significant contribution the trade fair is making towards business.

Ekandjo also announced during the opening that MTC and the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair signed another 3-year agreement which will see the partnership being extended for the next 3 years and beyond.

Echoeing Ekandjo's remarks, Advocate Rukoro, CEO of FNB Namibia Holdings Limited, said that the trade fair is an important driver for economic growth. Making reference to the Small and Medium Entrerprise sector, Rukoro stated that the sector is widely recognised as an important driver for Namibia's economic growth.

It is estimated that about 38,000 business entities in Namibia could be classified as SMEs. "Although most of them currently operate in the informal sector or shadow economy, it is estimated that their collective contribution towards the country's economy may exceed 26%. This demonstrates the importance of the sector," Rukoro emphasised.

Rukoro furthermore stated that FNB Namibia, a proud supporter of the Ogwediva Annual Trade Fair, would continue to expand its SME support services through new products and improved access for SME clients via its extensive country-wide branch network. Worldwide trends and statistics indicate that only about 10% of new small business ventures succeed within their first year of operation. "By following the correct lending and SME support approach, FNB has turned this statistic around and is now seeing an improved business success rate in excess of 90%."

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