Windhoek – In line with stimulating youth entrepreneurship and addressing the constraint of access to finance, a skills-based lending facility has been introduced at Development Bank of Namibia (DBN). This is according to the Harambee Prosperity Plan progress report dated April 2019.
The facility relaxes loan conditions such as collateral and owner’s equity contribution requirements. Beneficiaries of this facility will be provided with coaching and mentorship to enhance business sustainability, according to the report.
Furthermore, it is indicated that 101 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) obtained funding to the value of N$165 million from the DBN and collectively created 850 permanent jobs and 682 temporary employment opportunities, between 2016 and 2019.
Additionally, in light of the closure of SME Bank and the HPP target to establish a Youth Enterprise Development Fund, the government directed DBN to establish a Small-and-Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Centre.
Youth Enterprise Development Fund is a state corporation mandated to provide financial and business development support services to youth-owned enterprises.
According to the report, the SME Centre aims to respond to MSMEs funding needs, with capital commitment from government.
“In tackling challenges such as access to finances which are facing MSMEs, financial sector reform initiatives have been undertaken during the period under review,” according to the report.
The SME Financing Strategy, consisting of Venture Capital Fund, Credit Guarantee Scheme and a Training and Mentorship Programme, has been approved by Cabinet and operationalised under DBN.
It was reported that the Fund has been capitalised with a N$20 million contribution from DBN and N$110 million from central government.
The DBN has been working on implementation modalities to have these instruments operational from April 2019.
In addition to SME training reported under the Industry Growth Strategies, the Student Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) was launched in July 2017 to identify, train and facilitate the establishment of 14 youth owned enterprises.
To date, 140 young Namibians have been trained and organised into regional enterprises of 10 per group and equipped with bankable business plans, according to the report.
Furthermore, in terms of the proposal for regional businesses, 121 rural youth enterprises have been identified, selected across all constituencies and registered with Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa).
Nine enterprises were piloted in the first year of Harambee and 121 youth owned rural enterprises have been established and are in the process of developing bankable business proposals for funding and operationalisation, before the end of the Harambee period. – New Era