Query: What is the Equipment Aid Scheme?
Response: The Equipment Aid Scheme was initiated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 2009 (now Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development). This intervention is aimed at boosting the production capacity of the informal and formal SME sector by assisting SMEs to acquire production equipment and technologies.
This scheme is designed to create an environment for self-employment; strengthen capacities of SME entrepreneurs as well SME service providers; and develop entrepreneurial spirit and skills through technology acquisition. The scheme further targets SMEs in all 14 regions, primarily in the manufacturing sector. To support the graduation of SMEs and other small business into the economic mainstream, additional support is provided to established businesses that are already in operation at the level of producing goods and services that might need further product development diversification to improve the quality of their goods and services, as well as to increase their production and clientele.
Query: What is the procedure for applying for the Equipment Aid Scheme and what are the requirements?
Response: Anyone with a business is allowed to apply. The request in the form of a letter should be submitted to the regional office of the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development in your region. This letter has to be addressed to the chairperson of the Equipment Aid Scheme, briefly introducing yourself and your business idea. It is advised that you give as much information as possible such as the location of the business, the number of current and foreseen employees. Applicants should also provide valid reasons why they need assistance. The following relevant documents are to be attached and should accompany the request: the business owner’s ID as well as the company’s registration. Finally the applicants must attach three quotations from different suppliers quoting similar item(s).
Query: The Ministry of Trade and Industry through its Equipment Aid Scheme needs to speed up the process of assisting SMEs. We want to create employment for others and end poverty in Namibia.
Response: After receiving an equipment aid request, the ministry takes exactly a month to process the application and provide a response in writing to the applicant. However, a delay may be experienced due to a backlog dating as far as 2009 that our staff are still handling and the ministry is hard at work clearing this backlog. The ministry would like to assure the public that the problem is being attended to and a mechanism is being put in place to ensure timely responses to equipment aid application(s).
Query: Ministry of Industrialisation why do you give equipment aid to those who have equipment already? How about us the NIMT students who just finished our courses and want to start our businesses? You should consider the qualification of applicants and us as a criterion to qualify for equipment. We also want to start our businesses otherwise we will just end up in the streets again, especially tailors.
Response: The Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development gives assistance to all SMEs. Business owners need to know and understand that it is not easy to provide assistance to everyone in the same financial year.
Due to a large number of applicants, the ministry awards equipment aid guided by the budget allocated for the program. This is to say, if your application was unsuccessful in the last financial year, try again in the new financial year. It doesn’t mean when you submit your application it’s guaranteed. As a continued effort to enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to enter the mainstream economy of the country, the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development continues to award equipment to the country’s 14 regions through its equipment aid programme. The recipients of this aid are to fully utilize the equipment so that they can also apply for government tenders in the near future and not only for their own benefit but allow the country to move towards value addition while at the same time creating job opportunities.
SMEs play a crucial role in the development of economies all over the world and Namibia is no exception. The ministry is therefore set to empower various SMEs in every region. Our aim is to strengthen existing ties between the ministry and various SMEs in an effort to encourage an open dialogue between government institutions and the private sector to support the ministry’s “Growth at Home” Strategy. The government through the line ministry launched the Policy and Programme on Small Business Development outlining specific pro-active policy interventions and programmes in 1997. The aim was to address identified key constraints to the growth and development of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. However, low productivity came up as a key constraint and the lack of access to appropriate production machinery, technology and inputs was identified as the main cause. This, amongst others, was due to the high cost involved in sourcing or acquiring such technology, machinery and inputs, making it unaffordable for most budding SMEs. The ministry shall pursue the small business development policy and programme as this intervention is intended to help budding small entrepreneurs to improve and increase their productive capacities and product quality in particular, and to enhance business prospects, survival and growth in general.
• Mr Elijah Mukubonda, Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development, E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org