The Namibia Trade Forum (NTF) and Development Bank recently launched an agreement in terms of which NTF will assist export-oriented enterprises and start-ups to apply for DBN finance. The agreement will also cover enterprises engaged in internal trade.
Delivering the keynote address at the launch, deputy director for International Trade and Commerce in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Ndiitah Nghipondoka-Robiati said at a time when Namibia and Africa are working towards greater integration, this agreement aims to improve and strengthen the SMEs and allow Namibia to accelerate its industrialisation agenda and diversify its export market.
Robiati reiterated that SMEs are the backbone of most economies and a key source of economic growth dynamism and flexibility, so SMEs must engage in programmes that foster entrepreneurial thinking and enhance entrepreneurship.
Robiati concluded collaboration such as the NTF-DBN agreement, as well as commitment and consistency, are the three factors, which will enable SMEs to become highly independent and increase their survival rate.
Stacey Pinto, CEO of NTF, said the collaboration is geared to strengthen applications for DBN by SMEs.
NTF, she said, should be the first stop for SMEs intending to export goods or services to AfCTFA (African Free Trade Agreement) countries.
Among advice to strengthen DBN applications that NTF will provide, Pinto highlighted certain standards that will allow SMEs to compete in AfCFTA, elements such as packaging, labelling, barcodes, production capacity and quality assurance.
These elements, she emphasised, are the basis for SMEs to invest in products and services.
DBN CEO Martin Inkumbi highlighted the Namibian paradox of a highly developed enterprise financing and support ecosystem yet inefficient enterprise formation.
This inefficiency is characterised by the substandard performance of new and existing enterprises, as well as their failure.
According to Inkumbi, the inefficiency is due to the lack of entrepreneurial skills, limited demand for local goods and services, as well a lack of coordination in the enterprise financing and support ecosystem.
The agreement, he said, should be a model for coordination with the ability to assist finance for manufacturing, food processing, and agriculture infrastructure with the goal of local and AfCFTA trade.
He cautioned that although AfCFTA represents a potential boom for Namibian exporters, it also opens Namibia to imports, so it is important for Namibian SMEs and manufacturers to be competitive in local and export markets.
Inkumbi concluded by expressing hope that the partnership would be energetic and effective.