New Era (Windhoek)

11 December 2012

Namibia: SMEs Offer Massive Potential

Government believes the SME sector is crucial to sustainable employment creation and economic growth.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has devised deliberate programmes aimed at promoting the development of the SME sector.

In order to ease access to finance for SME's, the MTI last week launched the SME Bank in the capital.

The bank was established with the aim to empower previously disadvantaged Namibians by making financing available for business development. It is expected that the operational service of the SME Bank will be rolled out to the rest of the country in the near future.

"The MTI has also been providing affordable business premises for production and trading purposes. The MTI has been constructing SME parks and other trading facilities countrywide to provide better trading facilities for our local businesses," explained the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Tjekero Tweya, while promoting SMEs at Oranjemund over the weekend.

The MTI has also put in place an Equipment Aid Scheme through which existing and aspiring entrepreneurs are provided with equipment on a cost-free lease basis.

"The other business support services that we provide include assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs to translate their raw business ideas into bankable business plans, as well as mentoring services to established businesses that are facing operational constraints and/or want to grow," said Tweya.

The MTI also provides financial assistance to enable Namibian entrepreneurs to exhibit their products at home and in foreign markets.

"The provisions of 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 their businesses.

"I therefore urge the private sector, especially the financial institutions, to welcome our SMEs in their banks for financial assistance in terms of easy access to loans and other services that can bring improvement to the SME sector," said Tweya.

He also advised SMEs to focus on quality, saying this would determine the success of their businesses. "The Namibian community has been complaining that the products and services of our local SMEs do not meet expected quality standards and as a result the products of our local SMEs struggle to gain dominant access in the local and international markets," he said.

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