Adequate policies crucial for youth entrepreneurship

WHILE Namibia feels the pain of economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is time to widen economic horizons and look into the possibility of uplifting youth entrepreneurship as a catalyst for development.

It is widely accepted that increased youth entrepreneurship is imperative when it comes to alleviating Namibia’s unemployment challenges, as well as driving the country’s over-arching socio-economic goals.

Digitisation has already led to a discernible shift towards more entrepreneurial ventures by the youth, and the current global pandemic is further catalysing this process. While it is true that the youth themselves recognise the need to consider and actively pursue an entrepreneurial path, their success, however, relies heavily on the regulatory environment they operate within.

Governmental policies, business regulations and other infrastructural concerns play an immensely influential role when it comes to youth entrepreneurship, both in positive and negative terms. For example, complicated or expensive business registration processes are barriers to entry, while incentives to private companies, on the other hand, help boost partnership opportunities for young entrepreneurs.

With the global crisis having a detrimental effect on the already fragile economic climate in Namibia, government can no longer take a lackadaisical approach to entrepreneurship. African leaders and policymakers need to take swift and result-driven steps to review current rules and regulations, and begin driving robust policy reforms.

When developing national policies and regulations, and building supportive youth entrepreneurship ecosystems, it is important to take into account the economic goals of the country, and the role that youth entrepreneurship can play in helping achieve these.

Entrepreneurship is not an isolated business activity sector, but a valuable component of forward-driven economic systems. Therefore, entrepreneurial growth should be built into national strategies instead of being viewed as a stand-alone business sector

Further, there is need for the involvement of both public and private sector working together to develop solutions as well as the building of institutional capacity in terms of education and skills development that encourages youth entrepreneurship.

It’s not just about ‘creating policies’ but also having actionable and practical mechanisms in place for young African entrepreneurs. Organisations and initiatives, both private and governmental, dedicated to policy reform and support of youth entrepreneurship are fundamental to shifting the needle forward.

From an African perspective, it is clear that African and global bodies are actively working towards revolutionising the African youth entrepreneurship sector but this should also inspire Namibian authorities to move toward policy frameworks that support the growth of youth entrepreneurship. These are also not detached from a need to create funding opportunities that identify viable businesses among the youth and help make these active businesses.

However, such efforts will require the support and commitment of decision-makers and leaders at national level in order for aspirational goals to become reality. Timing is of the essence, particularly due to the extreme economic difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis. We urge our leaders who are in decision-making positions of our society to take action and tap into the potential that lies with young entrepreneurs as a means to overcome socio-economic struggles and stimulate future growth.