FOUR HUNDRED small and medium entrepreneurs will receive freezers and scales totaling N$2 million from the Namsov Community Trust's Oshivelelwa Initiative to promote affordable fish on Namibian tables.
The initiative, launched Monday at the Mama Fresh Shop in Ombili in Katutura, will benefit mainly women entrepreneurs.
The Oshivelelwa Initiative, brainchild of businessman Martin Shipanga, was inspired by his late mother, Maria, who Shipanga described as one of the first women traders in Katutura.
"Mamas are business people in their own right," he said.
Shipanga approached Namsov, which assisted him with the initiative through its community trust. Namsov Fishing will provide the horse mackerel, which will be sold at N$15 to N$20 per packet by the recipients.
"A family can buy affordable fish that they can eat for three to five days," said Shipanga.
Namsov chief executive officer Jerome Mouton said the company is passionate about community development.
"We do not only talk, we do," he said, adding that 250 more freezers will be handed over to other beneficiaries before the end of the year.
Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernardt Esau, who attended the launch, applauded Shipanga for taking the initiative to the next level.
"SMEs have become the backbone of the empowerment of people for wealth and job creation. This initiative is also towards the promotion for the consumption of fish for the nation," said Esau.
Some recipients have used the quotas for personal and self-enriching purposes, he said. "But there are those who have walked the extra mile to ensure others also benefit from this economic programme by the Ministry," said Esau.
"I want people on the ground to benefit from a resource which belongs to all of us. Through this initiative more than a 1 000 jobs have been created, which will leave a long-lasting legacy in the minds of the recipients today," he said.
Esau reiterated the importance of the SME sector in the development of a country's economy. "The expansion of SMEs can boost employment effectively more than large companies, because it is labour intensive. A 2,8% annual growth of SMEs is indicative that we are on the right track of alleviating poverty."
Herman Smit, who spoke on behalf of the Namsov Community Trust, said: "We are very proud to be associated with this initiative. Namsov is very committed to the socio-economic development of people and community development."
The Namsov Community Trust has given N$40 million towards community development since Independence. Of this amount, N$21 million has been directed to education.
"This is evident of what the private sector can achieve with other collaborations. This initiative complements Government's framework to alleviate poverty through job creation and empowerment," he said.