By Irene !Hoaes
The newly elected President of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) says the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) has transformed itself into a “commercial bank”.
John Akapandi Endjala said the DBN was created to fund entrepreneurs and not to fund corporates, parastatals and municipalities, as is the case now.
“I was involved when I was the president of the Indigenous People’s Council to lobby Government for the establishment of this entity,” Endjala remarked in an interview with New Era recently.
Endjala noted that entrepreneurs normally struggle to secure funds from commercial banks, as they cannot provide all the requirements that are set by these financial institutions.
“It’s because we were chased away by commercial banks that we went to Government. Commercial banks are very sensitive to entrepreneurs. They want 100 percent guarantee. Why on earth will I go to the bank if I have so much money?” Endjala asked.
The DBN only provides loans from three million and more, while loans smaller than that are handled by commercial banks.
“We have created DBN to take risks for entrepreneurs and if entrepreneurs do not have the capacity to carry out their business plans, then the bank must assist them by creating capacity, and appoint right managers, suitable personnel and boards for them, so that they can succeed,” Endjala said.
“It is called a development bank, not a commercial bank,” continued Endjala.
Endjala said small business people are being sent back to the same commercial banks that they ran away from, by the DBN.
He said the NCCI is lobbying Government, unions and even the ruling party to see how to pass laws that are favourable to entrepreneurs.
The NCCI president further bemoaned the loss of many jobs as a result of the Ramatex Textile Factory’s closure.
He is however certain that the closure of Ramatex now has provided another opportunity for the country and its business people.
Endjala is of the opinion that the young people left jobless by the Malaysian-owned company have the skills that can be utilised positively.
“We now have the skills and the capital, the DBN is there, why not come up with something?” asked Endjala.
He said instead of importing almost 90 percent of uniforms worn by government workers such as the police, health workers and soldiers, these products could be manufactured locally and even exported to other countries.
Endjala is certain that such an initiative will create at least 2 000 jobs for the thousands of unemployed Namibians.
More than 35 percent of Namibians are without jobs.
The figure is even higher now with the closure of Ramatex that at least employed about 3 000 young people.