MIT to consult on informal economy policy

By Hilary Mare

WIDE consultations will be carried out to draft the National Informal Economy and Entrepreneurship Development Policy which will develop the informal and start-ups’ economy and its participants into commercially viable businesses which could contribute to the economic growth of the country and its inhabitants in a sustainable manner.
This was said this week by Minister of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT), Lucia Iipumbu at a stakeholder’s consultation with the business community in Otjozondjupa region.
Iipumbu highlighted that the informal economy provides means of survival to majority of citizens am therefore the ministry had embarked to implement appropriate policies and programmes with a view to enhance businesses growth.

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“This policy will further address various challenges such as operating facilities, access to finance, training and skills development to mention but a few,” said Iipumbu.
She further stated that her ministry had taken note of the challenge faced by both local and foreign investors willing to invest in the country and as such, the Namibia Investment Promotion Act was due for finalisation in the next few months.

“I am glad to mention that there is a component of sector reservation for local businesses.

This is important, as at times it is very evident that our past efforts of attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment has yielded outcomes that at times substitute and displace Namibians in various sectors such as those prevalent in our informal economy,” Iipumbu stated.

Iipumbu also noted that MIT and government is fully aware of the difficulties that Micro-Small-Medium Enterprises and start-ups face in accessing financial support from various funding institutions.
Traditional financial institutions are often reluctant to fund MSMEs, because of the perceived risk associated with MSMEs, lack of, or sometimes limited enterprise development experience, the long-term expectation of profitability as well as risks inherent in financing relatively small business propositions with few assets.
“Turning a business idea into a profitable business venture therefore remains a distant dream for too many young entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas out there.

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“To address some of the above challenges that impede the growth of MSMEs sector, the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade has embarked on targeted MSMEs support interventions with development partners such as United Nation Development Programme (UNDP Namibia), SADC – TRF, European Union, UK High Commission to Namibia and GIZ. The different support services offered by MIT and development partners’ forms part of our ‘Growth at Home’ strategy that aims to de-risk the investment environment and offer more opportunities to MSMEs to unlock local entrepreneurship potentials,” explained Iipumbu adding that MSMEs have proven to be key drivers of industrialisation and structural transformation around the globe, and the same can be said in Namibia.
Last year, despite various economic challenges and due to the budgetary fiscal consolidation, the ministry forged considerable collaborative efforts with other stakeholders to support entrepreneurs hard hit by the pandemic.
This includes: Provision of Covid-19 grant to businesses that lost income during Covid-19 lockdown, facilitation of the local production and distribution of facial masks to vulnerable people such as pensioners, children and people living with disabilities, provision of funding grants IUMP programme (SADC – TRF), Sustainable Development Goal Impact Facility (SDGIF) grants and entrepreneurial and skills development under the empretec programme including the charcoal training.