DBN supports Omboga spinach soup

By Business Reporter

DEVELOPMENT Bank of Namibia (DBN) has celebrated the launch of fledgling food company, VNA Foods production facility in Windhoek. VNA Foods is the 2018 DBN Innovation Award winner which won the award for a proposal to manufacture packet soup, ‘Omboga’, from spinach.

DBN provided an extensive range of support activities that included recipe development, testing and refinement as well as barcode acquisition to enable the company to gain shelf space in local retailers. VNA also received grant funding which enabled it to begin operations.

Speaking at the launch of the production facility, DBN head of business strategy, Heike Scholtz said the bank views innovation as a set of transformative activities which can take place in various sectors. She pointed to utilisation of local resources, developing efficiency and economies of scale as particularly important.

The impact of innovation, Scholtz said, is that Namibia will become less dependent on imports and potentially create a basis for export trade. She added that developing efficiency makes Namibia more competitive as a national economy.

Talking about VNA, Scholtz said the product improves self-sufficiency as well as food security in Namibia. She noted that the ability of VNA to source its raw material locally strengthens agricultural livelihoods and adds to the growing ecosystem of agri-enterprises.

She also pointed out that VNA will add to the stock of enterprises in manufacturing and reiterated that growth of manufacturing is one of Namibia’s goals for the future economy.

She said it was significant that VNA is led by young entrepreneurs. DBN has assigned a high degree of importance on supporting and financing young entrepreneurs as a resource for the future of the economy.

On the topic of the risk of innovation, she said innovative enterprises need support to manage and absorb their risks if they are to become sustainable. She called on enterprises to adopt finance for innovation, based on the principle that a project which is made bankable through derisking becomes a potential financing resource for the future.

She urged local distributors and retailers to add the product to their selection and promote it saying that the wholesale and retail sector can only become fully sustainable if it incorporates Namibian products in its offerings.

Talking about prospects for the company, Valde Leonard of VNA said the company has identified the commercial value of Namibian cuisines. He said VNA will embark on a contract harvesting/supply programme with locals and focus on growing its product line in the short-term.

Leonard concluded by advising innovators to see the positive and make a lasting change which empowers both innovators and the world around them.