SMEs also affected by economic downturn

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Strauss Lunyangwe

Windhoek-Dragon Djokic, popularly known as Antonio in the local music industry, had to let go of three employees this year as business has been very slow because of the prevailing economic situation that has affected all spheres of the economy.

This is another indication that the current economic downturn is affecting most industries and has not spared small and medium sized businesses.

Antonio has been operating his music and memorabilia trading business in Post Street Mall since early 2000 and now has to man both of stalls alone to keep the business running.

He explained while he has seen his profits plummet this fiscal cycle, he is now keeping the business afloat with savings he made in previous years. Antonio’s core business comprises of selling CDs, branded merchandise, posters, necklaces, etc, which mainly attracts students and young adults.

“The economic crunch is tight; students and young people get their money from their parents. If parents are tightening their belts that means they are not giving their children too much spending money,” he explained.
Antonio noted that he has had to resort to being innovative and to create “other” methods to keep money flowing in and not just concentrate on his core business. He was a bit secretive about what these other methods are though.

Recently, phase four of Wernhil Park Mall started in the central business district which will cost N$40 million after completion in 2019. The upgraded shopping centre will have more than 55,000m² of retail space.
Broll Namibia has informed Antonio that he will have to move his business inside, as the current space he is operating from will no longer be available for him to trade from.

This will mean he will have to fork out much more on rent, like the other major retail businesses inside the mall, which could run into tens of thousands every month.

Jose Tomaz, who has traded in Post Street Mall since 1992, also lamented the fact that business has been bad since mid-last year. He mostly sells bucket hats, wallets, key chains and cigarettes.

“When we started things ran smoothly for us small business owners, but now your competitors are selling the same things as you, which was not a problem before, but customers have dried up and we all struggling now,” he said.
Antonio suggested government should resuscitate the economy, as not only does he suffer as a business person but he is not able to employee anybody.

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