First Lady Monica Geingos has encouraged student entrepreneurs to distance themselves from corruption at the opening of the two-day Student Entrepreneurs Programme (SEP) organised by the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation at a resort in Windhoek.
The SEP is the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation’s Harambee Prosperity Plan initiative to identify, develop and nurture student leaders at tertiary institutions and to cultivate a strong sense of ethics among students.
It aims to establish, amongst others, networking opportunities for students with existing and successful entrepreneurs and contacts in the formal business sectors.
While speaking of maintaining a clean profile, Geingos made reference to a time when she was a student at the University of Namibia (Unam) and how the Student Represent Council (SRC) group at the time was fired for hiding cooldrinks and meat meant for the cultural festival under their beds.
She said the shocking part was that later in their careers the same group of SRC leaders ended up being fired for corruption. “One thing you should be conscious about is ethics. It’s not something you do here and don’t do there,” Geingos further said.
Geingos, who was a managing director of a private equity firm for over ten years, added that one needs to avoid corruption, because when you become someone in life there will be people who dig into your background to find out what you did or didn’t do before.
“The other thing is, when you climb up the ladder you make enemies. Now imagine, one of your enemies can see you didn’t pay tax or repay your study loan. They will expose you,” Geingos cautioned.
Further, she encouraged the students to finish their education, as then nobody would be able to take away their qualifications.
“Don’t give up on your education. Finish and have your qualification, even if you don’t use it. Nobody can take it away. Your business can collapse. Nobody can remove that paper that you have. Just because you did your entrepreneurs course, don’t think you no longer need the qualification you’re pursuing.”
Geingos said Namibia should not be judgmental of entrepreneurial failure. “We must allow people to fail. We must fund people who have failed before, because I see [more] value in them than people who had it easy. So don’t be afraid to fail,” she said.
She also encouraged aspiring female entrepreneurs to be confident and aggressive in business. She said no one will put capital into their enterprise if they doubt how the businesswomen will handle the risks.
Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi said the SEP programme seeks to create knowledge constellations and entrepreneurial ecosystems, in which companies and industries adopt innovative strategies and interact with educational institutions to enhance the quality of graduates, who are not only relevant to industry but also capable of creating jobs.
Kandjii-Murangi said in this context an entrepreneurial ecosystem is a cluster of interconnected individuals, entities and governance bodies in a given geographic area that collectively support entrepreneurial activity.
“The SEP therefore seeks to adopt a ‘matching skills’ approach during the life of students at higher education institutions and VTCs, providing the right entrepreneurial skills required to generate the necessary economic dynamism to create new jobs.
She further said universities have always been regarded as the bastions of new ideas and are in an exceptional position to develop students’ skills in entrepreneurship and foster innovation.
“Not only can universities create and package specific programmes to teach entrepreneurship, but they can integrate across all courses the development of important entrepreneurial skills. The trend of teaching students entrepreneurship skills is not just limited to universities, but in many countries is already filtering through to primary schools,” Kandjii-Murangi remarked.