Businessman Turns to President for Help

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Because in his quest for start-up capital most doors of financial institutions have been summarily shut on him as a small business tour operator, he is desperately seeking the intervention of the Head of State. Frustrated Erastus Kambindu of Otjiwarongo has been running and scouting around for a small business loan of less than N$100 000 as start-up capital for the past six months without success. “The government is encouraging Namibians to enter the small business sector, but does not know the many problems we encounter to get such businesses off the ground when it comes to finding money. Thus far, I have invested almost N$40 000 of my own savings in trying to successfully set up my tour operating business in the hope that I would have by now secured enough capital via the existing financial channels, but to now avail,” said small business entrepreneur Kambindu. He claimed that he was speaking on behalf of many other small business people, who daily struggle to secure the necessary funding to set up their businesses. “I have the will and the know-how to start a successful tour business in my home town, but the money is lacking due to a lot of red-tape in the financial sector. I have tried a number of commercial banks for a loan. Some indicated they would be willing to assist, but people like myself just can’t fork out the collateral these banks require. In one case, I was asked to submit collateral of almost 40% of the amount I was applying for,” said a very disappointed Kambindu, who runs his company from a small office with one staff member. According to him, the business has a lot of potential, but without the necessary funding he cannot move forward. “Presently, I am stuck between the devil and the deep blue see in my quest to get a loan to continue with cultural tourism for which there is a great market country wide. I had a big struggle to obtain a ten-seat vehicle to transport possible tourists from abroad to become self-sustainable, but I lack money to cover the company’s overheads,” said the owner of the properly registered tour company with the Namibian Tourism Board, known as Otjitundu Travel Tours, registration number TS000274. “I have approached several commercial banks as well as the Namibian Tourism Board in my quest to secure a proper loan to buy office equipment and to set up a website to advertise my business in the tourism market. I have also approached existing tour companies who selfishly guard and protect their own interests rather than allowing us small business people to earn a piece of the tourism cake,” he said. Kambindu sees the solution to his present problem as a registered SME is to be upgraded to a BEE company. “The BEE sector does not struggle to secure funding in the way we SMEs do, an unfair system if one takes into consideration that we come from the previously disadvantaged part of the community. We just cannot compete with more established businesses in whatever field. Many companies like mine will go under even before they are set up. I am confident that President Hifikepunye in all his wisdom will come up with a solution to help us in the SME sector,” Kambindu said. He is presently anxiously awaiting an appointment with the Head of State.