By Petronella Sibeene
Nedbank and Old Mutual yesterday donated N$80 000 to the Women’s Action for Development (WAD), an organization that empowers the impoverished through training.
The funds will be used in the facilitation of five “field days”. A field day is a platform that brings together decision-makers and community members to discuss issues of concern and development.
WAD Executive Director Veronica de Klerk says her organization 10 years ago detected a vacuum in communication flow between decision-makers and community members in different regions.
An initiative was taken to host field days in different regions every year.
Field days, that have today become popular, allow decision-makers to state opportunities that exist for community members to get empowered to fight poverty.
It is at such platforms that students trained by WAD in different developmental areas receive their certificates.
Through the years, WAD has trained thousands and thousands of women and the organization’s training target for this year stands at 4 000 unemployed people in 11 of the 13 regions of the country. This year, the organization has trained 1 170.
“Field days also present excellent opportunities to showcase the growth and newly gained self-confidence, pride and self-worth for women who, for the first time in their lives, stand in front of a large audience to address them,” said De Klerk.
Field days, De Klerk said, have proved to be highly contagious and greatly encourage other women to move out of the shadows of poverty.
Already, one field day was held in the Karas region recently where a new training centre was opened. Next month, another field day will be held in Henties Bay in the Erongo region. Others will still be hosted in Oshana and Opuwo in the Kunene region, where the Ovahimba youth would undergo training.
The fifth field day will be held in the Khomas region where the organization recently graduated 24 former commercial sex workers known as the “King’s Daughters”.
Unemployment and poverty in Namibia are predominant. Statistics show that 31 percent of the 1.8 million people are unemployed and 63 percent of the age group 15-24 are affected.
Further, there are 40 000 school leavers each year and very few of them find employment. Namibia ranks 12th among the 50 countries in the world with the lowest life expectancies that stand at 44.3 years.
Nedbank Senior Manager of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Erastus Haihambo says Nedbank’s participation in empowerment projects is aimed at helping others to help themselves and at that which will fulfill the stated needs of communities.
“With the successful implementation of the Old Mutual Group BEE transaction, and specifically the involvement of a truly broad-based organization such as WAD, the opportunities for rural communities to be lifted into the formal economy and be confirmed to the periphery of economic activity in Namibia was enhanced significantly,” said Old Mutual Chief Executive for Corporate affairs, Andrew le Roux.
For a nation to prosper and develop, civil society needs people who are prepared, competent and enthusiastic enough to drive future economic development, said Haihambo.
“WAD’s approach to train women is commendable as it is women who head most households,” he said.
WAD and churches were selected as some of the partners to participate in the BEE transactions and acquire 0.02 percent of the share capital of the Nedbank Group.
Over the past eight years, Nedbank through its corporate social investment initiative has assisted Namibians who develop marketable skills from subsistence farming to tertiary education.