Swartbooi authority avails mini loans to fight poverty

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Fransfontien

The Swartbooi Traditional Authority, based at the north-western settlement of Fransfontien, this week availed N$10 000 to be shared among 20 small business owners to help boost their enterprises.

The traditional authority said it availed the money as a response to government’s call for joint efforts towards poverty eradication.

Each beneficiary received N$500, which has to be paid off in four months.

Deputy Chief of the Swartbooi Traditional Authority, Essegiel /Uirab, said his authority heard President Hage Geingob’s call to unite against poverty, hence the availing of the mini loans to small business owners.

“Our president’s call that Namibians must unite towards poverty eradication is clearly heard by us. The loans are interest free,” /Uirab said this week.

According to /Uirab, about 70 small and medium enterprise owners met with the Swartbooi Traditional Authority in May this year to discuss the mini loans but only twenty were chosen since there were little funds available from the authority.

“We will like to help many people but due to lack of financial resources we are not able to, but for the few people we gave loans we (the traditional authority) believe there will be a change in their lives,” /Uirab said. In future the mini loans will be increased to N$1 000 depending on the beneficiaries paying back the money and if more financial donations are sourced.

Beneficiaries can borrow two or even more times as long as they pay back the mini loan, while those who default on their payment are sentenced to community service.

Of the twenty beneficiaries chosen four are men and the rest are women. The oldest recipient, a woman, is 72 years old and the youngest is 21.

/Uirab said the reason why more women were chosen was that more households are headed by women at Fransfontien settlement as men went in search of employment to commercial farms or Khorixas, leaving behind their families to fend for themselves.

Two years ago the Swartbooi Traditional Authority made up food parcels consisting of game meat and handed them to pensioners every second month, while the remaining game meat was handed to a soup kitchen.

/Uirab called upon those who used to donate in kind and money to start again so that more people can be given mini loans to fight poverty.

According to /Uirab about 70% of Fransfontien residents are unemployed, while the others are employed by government ministries based at the settlement.

“Poverty and unemployment are rearing its ugly head at Fransfontien and that will not be allowed. We will join our government to fight this problem,” /Uirab said.

Mini loans are given to anyone who resides in the Swartbooi Traditional Authority area and beneficiaries don’t need to belong to the traditional authority. Beneficiaries can be from different tribes or political organizations.

Ernestine /Goagoses, 72, the oldest beneficiary of the mini loan said: “I am grateful to the traditional authority who gives us such mini loans to pay back within four months so that I can borrow again as I want to grow my business.”

/Goagoses looks after six schoolchildren of whom three are not related to her but stay with her as their parents cannot feed them.

The 72-year-old started selling tea, sugar, tobacco and maize meal in 1994 after she retired from formal employment.

She sells a small plastic bag of maize meal for N$2. She is planning to send her son based in Windhoek the N$500 to buy her some stuff to repackage and sell it at Fransfontien. Mini loan beneficiaries were urged by /Goagoses to repay their loans on time so that others can also be assisted.

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