By William J. Mbangula ONDANGWA The northern regions will soon benefit from a pool of expertise from the Hague-based business consultancy, the Programme Uitsending Managers (PUM), with the envisaged opening of its office here. This emerged during a consultative meeting between PUM representatives and local business people at Ondangwa a week ago. Welcoming the cooperation agreement between PUM and the local business people, the Chairman of the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Northern Branch, Phillip Amwele, termed the new cooperation an eye-opener for all members of the business community who are unable to afford exorbitant commercial consultation fees. “I wish to thank PUM for having come to our rescue by providing its services to our members who have been struggling to expand their businesses and who do not know how to go about it. Through the assistance of PUM, Namibian business people will soon be brought to the same level as other businesspeople in the world,” said Amwele. He urged every businessperson to use PUM services since they are more affordable than the commercial consultancies in the country. As a result of the friendly business environment that would be created through PUM co-operation, Amwele noted that the NCCI would ensure that all relevant information would reach every businessperson across the country. “I am therefore recommending the utilisation of PUM services by all our members given the fact that its services are affordable and PUM has a pool of experts in most sectors of the economy,” he said. The NCCI branch chairman noted that he would be the first person to set an example by utilising the PUM services since he has also been struggling to expand his business but had no one to advise him. Amwele is the owner of an electrical repairing company, which goes by the name (Eletro Amwele). Businessman and former mayor of Ondangwa Dr Otto Kapia told the gathering that the volunteers of PUM are selfless people who have decided to share their vast knowledge with others. “Please go out and tell others that these are the people to do business with. Let all of us be representatives of PUM. These are people with talent, wisdom who are prepared to share their knowledge and expertise with us. Now is the time for us to start doing things for ourselves,” said the former mayor. Its European-based Country Coordinator KO Joosse and the Namibian representative Dr Eline van der Linden represented PUM at the meeting. Joosse has been working for Phillips Electronics company for 25 years and is now retired, but shares his expertise with other people in the world. PUM is an independent organisation which was founded in The Hague in 1978. It promotes cooperation between employers and government, gives free advice and voluntary service and is active in Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Its financial resources are derived from funding from the Netherlands government as well as the largest employers organisation the VNO-NCW. Joosse explained that his organisation has expertise in practically all fields of business. Its experts are aged between 50-70 years and are experienced. The experts deal with various projects in a short, targeted and cost-effective manner. Besides, they provide direct one-to-one advice through personal contact. PUM’s aims and objectives as outlined by Joosse are as follows: – Improving the position of the SMEprivate sector in developing countries; – Development of a social market economy; – Improving employment; – Encouraging environmentally friendly production processes; and, – Improving international co-operation. Its capacity, according to Joosse, include around 4 000 senior experts, 2 000 projects per annum, worldwide representatives of up to 225 in more than 80 countries, a turnover of 33 000 man days (assigned experts) worth about Euro 45 million. Its total budget is about Euro 11 million. In the year 2005, its ten top projects were in agriculture production, accountancymanagement, agro-industryfood processing, hotels, catering and tourism, the metal industry, chemical industry, timber processing industry, retail industry, clothing industry, and the energy sector. Since PUM’s services have become popular in the world, especially in developing countries, Joosse noted, the intake criteria has put up limiting factors to potential beneficiaries such as that the host beneficiary should pay for the local costs which include transport from the airport to hisher business as well as accommodation. For a beneficiary to qualify for assistance, such business should have at least between 10 and 1 000 employees, a maximum balance sheet totalling Euro 43 million, a turnover of less than Euro 50 million per annum, foreign ownership may not exceed 49 per cent, and the company should be at least two years old. In addition to the above, PUM would always provide follow-up service for any project it has assisted and offer traineeships, provide a business link programme with international business partners and facilitate small-scale investments through the Hans Blankert Fund. Asked about her impression on the attendance and participation of the consultative meeting, the Namibian PUM representative who is based in Windhoek, Line van der Linden, expressed her joy that the event was overwhelming in terms of participation and attendance. Nathanael Haukongo, the officer in charge of Unam Northern Campus SMEs, expressed satisfaction with the attendance and described it as outstanding.
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