WINDHOEK – According to an assessment carried out by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTE), thousands of small and medium size enterprises established in the last 15 years made a significant contribution to the economy, through tax payments and employment creation.
This was revealed by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein on Monday during the official review of the country’s SME policy and programme and the launch of a website for SMEs at the Nampower Convention Centre. “Through the programme a total of 41 industrial and business parks have been constructed since the inception of the programme and the 980 businesses that are operating from these facilities employ some 4 369 people on a permanent basis. The construction of the facilities has also created jobs for some 6 702 Namibians,” he said. Schlettwein further revealed that there are 44 related new infrastructure projects being implemented across the country in critical areas.
“Another intervention that has had a positive impact on start-up and emerging small businesses is our equipment aid scheme, which has enabled many small business operators to adopt technology and equipment to enhance their efficiency and ability to produce goods for the market and to supply large businesses,” he said. Schlettwein says to date there are a total of 2 445 SMEs, particularly those in manufacturing and value-addition that have secured appropriate production equipment through the scheme.
According to Schlettwein even the now defunct Small Business Credit Guarantee Scheme has helped a number of SMEs to secure start-up capital from commercial banks through its loan guarantee facility. “We have no doubt that once fully established, the successor SME bank will equally make a positive impact,” he said. He said the government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry has implemented other business support programmes in the areas of project conceptualisation and development, business management skills, product development and marketing. “Notwithstanding the positive impact of the existing programmes, you will agree that it is important to pause and to take stock of whether our policy and programmes are still adequately responsive and effective as tools for facilitation and the start-up and expansion of small businesses in the country under the current and future environment,” he said.
“This is necessary not only because of the 15 years that have passed since the current policy and programme were developed, but also given the dynamic environment in which SMEs operate, and above all because we continuously need to ensure that the environment in which SMEs operate [is supportive],” Schlettwein said.
By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa