SMEs key to fighting unemployment and economic growth

Josef Kefas Sheehama

SMEs play a crucial role in Namibia’s economic growth and development, especially when creating jobs, which remains a significant problem nationwide.

The significance of the SME sectors in Namibia cannot be ignored as they provide livelihoods and incomes for a large country population, most of whom are self-employed, and more than half are women.

The SME sector is the means of survival for many fellow Namibians. The unemployment situation in Namibia has deteriorated markedly over the years.

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It should be noted that this very high figure of unemployment probably includes a large part of underemployment in rural areas. Small businesses and self-employed workers are crucial to the growth and development of economies.

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If adequately supported, SMEs can effectively contribute to the structural transformation of economies and drive inclusive, sustained, and equitable economic growth and jobs. SMEs can transform the economies and the country as a dynamic force in the international arena.

Furthermore, if policymakers can draft excellent policies, this will help businessmen and businesswomen to ensure that their business flows without challenges. As we know, 60% to 70% of women are involved in business and the cross-strait area.

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Therefore, if the laws are well-drafted and favour women, they could do their business well. The private sector plays a critical role in the development of Namibia, and hence, the strategy ensures firms across the country have access to tools and partnerships; they will be able to play a crucial area in creating a resilient environment in the future.

Research carried out by economists revealed that SMEs provide some form of employment and income to 160,000 people, representing approximately one-third of the nation’s workforce. In terms of full-time jobs, this sector currently employs about 60,000 people. In Namibia, most SMEs are mainly found in the retailing sector, selling foodstuffs and household products with no actual value-addition activities in most cases. Therefore, small businesses’ contribution to the national economy and wealth creation must be recognized by the government from the beginning and considered part and parcel of the economic development process. The need for a simplified business registration process that can increase the number of businesses registered in Namibia cannot be over-emphasized.