By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Entrepreneurs are the life and soul of Namibia’s development momentum because their ingenuities and capacities for combining ideas and enterprise are instrumental in the eventual achievement of industrial economic growth and development. So said the deputy minister of Trade and Industry, Bernard Esau, at the occasion of the Sam Nujoma Innovative Entrepreneurs Award ceremony on Friday evening. The Joint Consultative Council was established and registered as a Section 21 Company in 1997 and as the leading and dynamic national forum that promotes the strengthening of the flourishing SME sector in the country. “Conceptualizing and analyzing opportunities and challenges, readiness to take considered risks for opportunities, talents to put resources together and create systems of management, preparedness to go for changes and innovation and eventually setting the path for growth and development are entrepreneurs’ distinctive features,” said Esau of the emerging and potential members of the business community. Rebekka Hidulika of the SME Wanderzone Tours on Friday evening walked away with the coveted award as overall winner in four business development categories. “The financial contributions you pledge or commit today, and in time to come to reward young entrepreneurs who excel and to develop talents in others, who are grappling to position themselves as potential entrepreneurs, will be building blocks to the strengths of your and the entrepreneurs’ future performance in particular and that of the nation’s economy in general,” Esau said. A large number of invited guests as well as the patron of the JCC, dr Sam Nujoma, attended the event, one of the business highlights of the year. “It is imperative that you share these vital resources with our up-coming business initiators so that they eventually join the ranks of your suppliers and markets. Your continued success to a large degree hinges on the broader success of the wider business communities and of course the nation,” the deputy minister advised the established businesses in the country. He said the cardinal mission of the awards ceremony is a systematic reduction of the prevailing skewness of income and opportunities among the Namibian business people and the stemming of the urban-bound flow of the potential workforce, which flow leaves the country’s regions void of talented and productive people. “The continuing relevance and economic operations of our public institutions and parastatals are dependent on the progressive growth and development of the economy through the unrelenting efforts of our existing and potentially emerging business practitioners. Your continued contributions in financial terms and in services through simplified procedures are paramount for the qualitative and quantitative build-up of entrepreneurial talents,” he said. According to Esau, the annual awards instill the spirit of competitiveness in augmenting managerial talents for results which in the end will be for the collective good of all entrepreneurs and for the nation’s economic progress. “Our common purpose is to attain the growth and development of our industrial economy in particular and the total economy in general with fair distribution of the derived benefits among our people and regions. One major pathway to serving this cardinal purpose is building up the entrepreneurial capacity of our business and industrial promoters on a sustainable basis. Let us work in tandem and aspire to register success together. The outcomes of our isolated efforts will never add up to the outcomes we can achieve with togetherness,” the deputy minister stated. Business category winner and overall winner of the JCC Awards, Rebekka Hidulika, of Wanderzone Tours, formally thanked the Founding President and Founder of the award Dr Sam Nujoma for his tireless work in advocating for the unlocking of the entrepreneurial potential of Namibia’s young people. Said Hidulika: “Former President Nujoma’s work ranks highly among the most genuine of initiatives aimed at empowering young Namibians, whose potential is being inhibited by the bureaucracy and red-tape within the country’s financial services sector. Furthermore, the successes of these new and young entrepreneurs have rendered the perception of ‘Investing in SME’s is Highly Risky’ as baseless.” “While we as the new entrepreneurs accept the challenge of doing business in a free and competitive economy, we are being hampered by the unwillingness of those with the ‘means’ to create an environment that is conducive for the new entrepreneur.ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Our struggle to succeed is not compounded by our inability to do business, but instead by the lack of support either financially or business support through sponsorships,” she said to applause from the audience. Hidulika also expressed the hope that the success of the award winners will inspire a new generation of Namibian entrepreneurs to apply their minds to innovations that would fast-track Namibia towards greater prosperity. “The tourism industry in which I am involved is now regarded as one of the biggest earners of foreign currency for Namibia. It is an industry that is yet to fulfill its potential, but at the same time it is an industry where only the fittest will survive,” she said. In her view, the international traveller is now more knowledgeable than ever before and demands first class service wherever they go. “Failure to constantly meet and exceed these expectations would therefore spell disaster for any entrepreneur in this industry. Therefore, as tourism promoters we need your support and everyone involved, in terms of enabling us to make sure we bring more tourists to this country by means of sponsorship, for example to attend international tourism expos and trade fairs. One tourist alone can create jobs for more than five Namibians. From the check-in agent at the airport, to the driver who is transporting them, to the cook in a hotel, a housekeeper and even a clerk in a bank who is changing their currencies,” Hidulika said.
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