Entrepreneurship development is a known counter strategy to the growing problem of unemployment in any developing society, and this holds particularly true for Namibia. As can be seen, there is saturation in the formal sector to accommodate the labour force. Entreprenuership will therefore remain the only viable avenue out of poverty for many Namibians.
According to National Statistics Agency of Namibia (NSA), broad unemployment stands at 34%, with youth unemployment estimated at 37%. The Namibian labour force survey of 2016 found 246 262 youth are jobless in Namibia. In the light of the on-going economic reforms, the informal sector has thus become a very important source of employment. It continues to absorb most of the job losses in the formal sector. Therefore, the significance of the informal sector in the short to medium term is bound to grow rather than diminish. But there also numerous obstacles facing the informal sector which need urgent attention.
Given the gravity of the economic situation facing Namibia and the labour force trends, it is evident that we have to change our thinking on the issue of employment. Employment in Namibia can no longer be thought of as denoting employer – employee relationship. The definition is inadequate in view of the significant numbers of people working in the informal sector.
Employment today is a process of generating wealth, provision of services and creation of wealth. It is the capability of people to exercise their economic citizenship. If we understand employment in this broader sense we can readily see that it is a problem Namibia suffers from is that of insufficient Entrepreneurship. Entreprenuership is that spirit which motivates people to seize opportunities to create wealth. It is a skill that can be acquired and accumulated. In Namibia today, Entreprenuership must become the basis of employment.
Entreprenuership or the spirit of enterprise is in line with the government economic policy which is designed to disengage the State from directly participating in the economy. The government’s aim is to create an enabling environment in which the people themselves are the main actors in the economic arena as owners and operators of enterprises.
The potential of Entreprenuership as a source of livelihood for workers has now come to be widely appreciated. In the informal sector, Entreprenuership has been recognised to possess many advantages over large scale enterprises in the formal sector. It does not require huge amount of Start-up capital. It is mainly based on the use of local raw materials and technologies. It is labour intensive and does not demand highly specialised skills. More importantly in the current economic situation, it is less dependent in the vagaries of the international economic system.
The above characteristics of informal sector Entreprenuership makes it a natural solution to Namibia’s unemployment current problem.
Nevertheless, Entreprenuership development in Namibia is still faced with plethora of problems. The informal sectors suffer from problems such as lack of venue/ base from which they can operate. Many budding entrepreneurs lack vocational and technical skills. Access to bank credit is difficult due to high requirements set by the Banks. In general, Entreprenuership development has lacking institutional support from stakeholders.
Firstly, the ambiguous attitude to the informal sector has tended to retard the growth of Entreprenuership. To in encourage Entreprenuership development in Namibia, it is important therefore to put in place a number of supportive measures. This would include sound training programmes. Most of the training programs must prepare them for employment. Government ministries, such as Youth, Gender, Education, Labour and Science & Technology should work together to come up with training programs or upgrade present programs which prepare young people for self-employment.
Secondly, counselling centres should be created to increase the awareness of prospective entrepreneurs, particularly young people, of available self-employment opportunities. Thirdly, youth and women’s accessibility to land should be made available and improved. For Entreprenuership to grow there is a need for land where young people can operate from without fear.
Fourth, Entreprenuership development programs should be expanded to impart business skills to people wishing to work for themselves. In this regard courses must be designed in such a way that they can take advantage of sectors with the highest growth prospects.
Fifth, one of the major handicaps facing small entrepreneurs is lack of credit. At the moment, credit offered by commercial banks is very expensive in terms of interest rates for repayment. There must be an encouragement of the establishments of credit associations which would offer loans at affordable rate. A number of such facilities are already in place, but their scale of operations is still insignificant relative to demand
Sixth and most critically, entrepreneurs should strive to be innovative. They should ensure they are aware of present trends so as to stand out in the crowd. Many aspiring youth recycle old ideas, copying their immediate neighbours’ activities instead of discovering new ones. This causes saturation, which prevents the business from growing and reduces investment appetite from would-be financiers.
In conclusion, there should be a concerted effort from both government and aspiring entrepreneurs to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurship, so as to ensure the attainment of National Development goals and the eradication of poverty.
*Jan Scholtz is chairperson of the
//Kharas Regional Council and councillor of !Nami-#Nus Constituency.