By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Since the introduction of the BEE policy in the country, some people have argued that the system has only benefited those that do not fall in the category of “disadvantaged”. Whether true or false, this week saw the signing of an agreement between an organization that focuses on rural women empowerment and one of the business world’s giants, Old Mutual Namibia. On Monday, Women’s Action for Development (WAD) signed a BEE partnership with Old Mutual Namibia, Nedbank Namibia Limited and Mutual $ Federal. WAD Executive Director, Veronica de Klerk, disclosed that after months of negotiations to iron out the finer details of the agreement that will be worth several millions of Namibian Dollars over a period of time, an agreement was reached in the spirit of establishing a powerful synergy through which lucrative benefits will be established for both the marginalized members of WAD and the Old Mutual Group of Companies. “Through the financial benefits that will be accrued from this BEE partnership, WAD will be enabled to assist an increasing number of rural people to overcome poverty,” stated De Klerk. Although WAD has succeeded in securing the agreement, De Klerk encourages the rural poor to take centre stage in the process of solving their own poverty problems as the organization does not give out money but only assists in equipping the unemployed with knowledge, skills, entrepreneurship and confidence to ensure that they become self-sustained in the shortest possible period of time. “The virtues of that route leave the individual with lasting skills and knowledge, which by far outweigh the value of social grants,” she said. It is a well-known fact that poverty has a vicious cycle-effect on a community, added De Klerk. Poor parents have a slim chance to give their children proper schooling. Children therefore start life hampered by the inhibitions of a poor educational background, which can hardly secure good employment for them. Under the new partnership, rural communities will now be put in the favourable position to be more sensitized than in the past. Some of the benefits from such an undertaking, De Klerk added, involve securing the future of young students through the acquisition of more study policies by enabling a higher number of students to advance to higher learning institutions. Securing more tailor-made life insurance policies for the poor, more funeral benefits for family members and sensitizing rural communities of the importance of opening more savings accounts and investing more forcefully for the future are other positive results. Business giants in the country can assist profoundly with this BEE partnership to establish a self-help culture in Namibia with the minimum reliance on government. This, according to De Klerk, will foster a sense of personal growth and dignity in individuals who will truly become masters of their own destiny. De Klerk expressed gratitude towards the Old Mutual Group for positively answering to the call of government to the private sector to become a stakeholder in the alleviation of poverty in the country. She added that this is proof that the company does not merely reap financial gains from the Namibian public, but that it also bountifully ploughs back into the community.
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