Namibia: Sowing the Seeds of Entrepreneurial Growth

18 December 2019

Windhoek — The Start-up Namibia 2019/2020 Accelerator programme, led by GIZ on behalf of the German government, is a nine-month programme that recently commenced. Through the programme, exceptional early-stage Namibian companies were selected to develop their products, sharpen their business models, connect with other start-ups and grow their networks.

The five start-ups went through a rigorous judging process and were chosen based on their performance at the Seedstars Windhoek Boot camp and Pitching event in November 2019. Start-up Namibia is a Namibian-German technical cooperation project. It works together with Namibians to support them in realizing their dream of becoming entrepreneurs and business owners.

The five start-ups that will be receiving support are; Derenas Investment, a tyre recycling plant in Rundu producing crumb rubber to be transformed into pavers, astros, tar roads, etc; Tasked, an app that helps you save time (to focus on important stuff) and money (setting the price) by empowering others (through delegation); Ohunguriva Investment, a poultry farm in Okakarara; EstApp, which brings your happy home to your fingertips through three easy steps connecting buyers with sellers, match roommates; and Ngishe Biotech, producing biogas from organic waste; target group: informal settlements.

Namibia is facing strong economic headwinds and jobs are scarce, especially for young people, even if they are skilled and have a university degree. Entrepreneurship is one way to break the cycle of unemployment, economic hardship and other societal challenges. However, people need to be stimulated, motivated, empowered and supported in taking concepts and ideas for businesses to the next level. GIZ believes that start-ups have the potential to drive the creation of new jobs in Namibia, as well as have a fundamental impact on overall economic productivity. Start-up entrepreneurs bring new ideas to the table and are a catalyst for innovation. The companies may be small, the entrepreneurs may be young, but their ideas are valid and they can play a significant role in economic growth. Their concepts, ideas once turned into reality and into a working business will create more jobs which means more employment opportunities and in turn an improved economy. Which greatly improves society for all within and that is why GIZ supports these activities.

Starting a business is incredibly challenging and support is needed to make a success of any business, big or small. The assistance given comes in many forms, but are all focused on practically guiding the entrepreneurs through the minefield of being a start-up. This support ranges from; mentorship, in-kind support like media and public relations work, legal advice, practical training and pro-bono support on bookkeeping, accounting and financial management. The concept, product or service of these start-ups may be excellent, but if the foundation upon the business is built isn't solid, it will not succeed. That is why this support is vital and mentorship and assistance from professionals in the various fields is worth a lot more than just throwing money at the start-ups.

The start-ups that made it through the very discerning boot camp will have access to a dedicated team of experts that will assist in accelerating their businesses. Allowing the entrepreneurs to avoid pitfalls and speed up the growth of their business. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child...well, it's really not different when it comes to a business. Successful people with their own businesses and expertise will work as a community with the new businesses to make the next generation of start-ups a success, right here in Namibia.

This includes creating visibility with relevant stakeholders such as corporates and investors as well paving the way for access to new market segments and customers in Namibia and beyond. The opportunities are there for the start-ups providing they know and realize it's an opportunity to grasp with both hands and they will be spoon fed. They will still need to do all the hard work and pioneering themselves... albeit with a lot of support.

Anna Vambe of GIZ said when asked what sets these five start-ups apart; "The five selected start-ups in the 2019/2020 Accelerator have one thing in common: they are hard-working, they have grit and a desire to learn. We believe in their business ideas and can't wait to take them to the next stage."

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