By Kakunawe Shinana
THE Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) as a flagship of collective business identity has come a long way in advocating the interests of the various businesses in the northern regions of the country. The NCCI’s s Northern branch chairperson, Thomas Koneka Iindji is calling on NCCI members to take innovation and entrepreneurship seriously while calling on youth mentorship throughout the country. Iindji said the northern chamber has noted with dismay that Namibians have a habit of enjoying debates and talk shops, but slow in making real changes that would have a noticeable impact. Iindji said the NCCI northern branch has lobbied government in finding solutions to common challenges facing entrepreneurs in Namibia – solutions that are practical and achievable, and now seek to include the broader public in this debate. He said youth mentorship needs to become a common theme throughout the country as Namibian business owners are unwilling to share their knowledge and wisdom to upcoming entrepreneurs for fear that their ideas will be stolen. “NCCI has attempted to spearhead such a mentorship network with very little success. But the desire for an open sharing culture where the elders of the business community that have overcome challenges and become successful can mentor the SMEs trying to find their way in a competitive marketplace is thin. NCCI will continue its mentorship efforts through such initiatives with the Enterprise Development Program (EDP), although more resources are needed in order for this to be effective. There is zero chance of success if industry leaders continue to operate in isolation and are unwilling to share their wealth of knowledge so that our economy may grow,’’ said Iindji. Namibia faces many economic challenges need for development. The Namibian unemployment rate is hovering near 30%, while the unemployment rate among youth is a staggering 43.4%. A further analysis of this number reveals a gender gap with the number of female youths employed falling well short of the number of male youths employed. Due to a variety of factors, the growth rate of the national gross domestic product (GDP) slowed from 6.4% in 2014 to 4.5% in 2015.Government programs of the past have been somewhat successful in lifting many Namibian’s out of poverty, but income distribution is still unevenly skewed toward urban areas with few wealthy families having access to land and other assets. While many jobs have been created, there are still masses of previously disadvantaged Namibians that can’t get ahead of the curve. ‘’Young entrepreneurs and SME owners often require mentorship and skills development in order to be successful. Therefore, we want to advocate for the following proposals to be taken seriously as viable tools to boost the success rate and growth. We are now advocating for the Government to get behind NCCI’s EDP program by allocating additional resources so that it becomes a stalwart programme driving business development,’’ said IIndji.
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