WINDHOEK: Namibia is rapidly becoming the leading light of the Empretec Programme, a capacity building initiative specially designed to encourage entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

The Empretec Namibia Programme was first launched in 2019 as a partnership between the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The programme aims to promote entrepreneurship as an essential component of economic growth and development in Namibia. Empretec has been proving its positive impact for over 30 years since it was first launched in Argentina by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Since it was first piloted in Namibia in 2019, close to 2 000 entrepreneurs have graduated from the programme. Last year, 1 400 entrepreneurs completed the training, while 90 were the first to graduate in 2019.

Henry Kisting, one of Empretec Namibia’s alumni, said the programme gave him special skills that allowed him to run his upholstery business
in Windhoek.

‘I can say the programme really helped me a lot in the sense that it opened my eyes to things like how to plan, aggressive marketing, and how to look for business opportunities. To be honest, I was lacking in many areas of running a business,’ Kisting said, while encouraging other aspiring entrepreneurs to take part in the programme.

Elina Emvula, who operates a decoration business at Grootfontein, also had good things to say about the programme. She said her participation in the programme in 2019 gave her a boost to run her small business, which manufactures a range of wood furniture, kitchenware, and wall decor.

‘It really boosted my skills to run my business. When I started, I did not really know what I was doing. Even up to now, I still have my notes from the workshop, and at times when I get stuck, I still go back to my notes to boost myself,’ said Emvula, who also recently opened a restaurant in Grootfontein.

The 2024 edition of the Empretec programme was launched in Windhoek recently,
and the launch coincided with the first entrepreneurial training that began on 04 March and was attended by 30 entrepreneurs.

During the six-day workshop, participants were exposed to behavioural entrepreneurial competencies that are associated with successful entrepreneurs worldwide.

The CEO of Empretec Ghana Foundation, Dunwell Eku, who also conducted the workshop, noted that the programmes are unique from other entrepreneurial training programmes.

Eku emphasised that the programme takes a behavioural approach to entrepreneurship, and that it is more practical, interactive, and experience-based.

‘Over the years, I am aware that governments have invested in a number of funded training programmes that focus on learning some financial and management skills, and I am aware that in some countries, government funding is as much as 90 per cent of start-up capital, and it did not work,’ Eku said.

‘So this workshop is about getting entrepreneurs to understand that there is something within them, and if they bri
ng it out and practice it, it can become a part of them. They can apply it in all situations that confront them.’

Romanus Haironga, one of the 30 participants who finished training last week, expressed gratitude to the Empretec Programme for helping him gain new insights into managing a business. The aspiring entrepreneur from Kavango West said he is venturing into small and medium businesses training and coaching in his region.

He said the workshop was about changing the mindset of entrepreneurs, which he said is the biggest challenge for business owners.

‘The biggest challenge is our mindset, and we need to change that. For example, I learned that you can start a business without money, but our mindset is that you need a lot of money to start a business, that the government is not giving us capital, and so forth. Therefore, the approach of the Empretec programme is changing that mindset, that entrepreneurs can even start with little money,’ Muronga said.

Industrialisation and Trade Minister, Lucia Iipum
bu, who launched this year’s programme, said that Empretec Namibia seeks to train local micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and larger enterprises into appropriate entrepreneurial behaviour, to ensure that they can create sustainable businesses.

In partnership with Empretec Ghana, the minister said they aim to train up to 180 trainees this year.

‘We also aim to work with both UNDP and UNCTAD to ensure that Empretec Namibia is certified as a global centre by the end of this year. In addition, we aim to create a pool of trainers who will become the resource for Namibian trainers to carry out these trainings themselves. Further, we are working with the Ministry of Higher Education and its agencies to initiate work to accredit our training,’ Iipumbu said.

Speaking at the launch, UNDP Resident Representative, Alka Bhatia, said Empretec Namibia intends to build resilience and boost confidence in MSMEs.

With rising unemployment in Namibia, Bhatia said the programme aims to empower small business o
wners with the skills necessary to become productive in the national economy.

She also commended the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade for its idea to set up a blended financing programme that will provide grants and loans to MSME at a nominal interest rate.

In support of SMEs, the Ministry of Finance has increased the ministry’s budget by 31.7 per cent to N.dollars 365.5 million in 2024/25 financial year and a total of N.dollars 1.2 billion over the medium-term expenditure framework.

Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi has said that funding has been allocated to the equipment aid scheme, Start-Up Namibia and Empretec Namibia to facilitate domestic trade activities and build domestic entrepreneurship capacity.

Source: Namibia Press Agency