Business struggles to recover from Covid-19

SMEs are fighting to survive in an economy haunted by recession and the impact of Covid-19.

12 April 2021 | Business

It has been a struggle to sell locally, and much more difficult to export the products to neighbouring countries. - Moses Helao, Owner: Karakulia Weavers

Ndalimpinga Iita - Despite economic revival efforts in Namibia, businesses operating in the country continue to struggle following disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For years, Moses Helao, owner of Karakulia Weavers, embraced business prosperity producing hand-made wall hangings, rugs and carpets at his venture based in a coastal town.

However, within a year, the Covid-19 outbreak in the country and subsequent stringent measures, including business restrictions and lockdown, interrupted business operations. These included the initially established supply value chain, both locally and regionally.

According to Helao, he lockdown resulted in border closures, which disrupted existing markets, clientele and export, which subsequently affected the demand.

As a result, he struggled to sustain a livelihood. He faces eviction from the business premises where he operates.

"It has been a struggle to sell locally, and much more difficult to export the products to neighbouring countries," he said.

STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE

In the Kunene region, Opuwo Processing Facility, which produced cosmetic products and fragrance under the brand Scents of Namibia, has also been pushed to the limits by Covid-19.

The venture, established about 11 years ago through cooperation between various nature conservancies in the region, heavily relied on international travellers and exports regionally and internationally.

"The tourists are not coming to Namibia, at least not in big numbers as before. And local clients are few, so income generated is minimal," said Ueriira Tjiveze, manager at the enterprise.

According to Tjiveze, the project played a significant role in improving many locals' livelihoods, who would harvest the local mopane seeds and other ingredients sold at buying points.

For other sectors, those who lost their jobs diverted to other trades.

David Johannes, who worked in construction, diverted to his part-time hobby, photography, to sustain his livelihood.

"It is not easy, but we are trying to see how things go with time," Johannes said.

RECOVERY PLAN

A survey of Covid-19 effects on selected businesses conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) in 2020 showed that the manufacturing sector reported the highest number of businesses adversely affected by Covid-19, followed by the hotels and restaurants and construction.

"In addition, reduction in international customer demand was highlighted as the second most current effects experienced by the businesses," according to the report.

In the interim, to curate a recovery plan for business and trade in Namibia, the government is working on interventions to aid business revival across various sectors.

The ministry of industrialisation and trade embarked on an outreach programme to collectively model the recovery path with business stakeholders amid the Covid-19 pandemic, minister Lucia Iipumbu said recently recently.

"There is a need to transform the Namibian economy to increase industrial capacity and output to use local resources," Iipumbu said. – Nampa/Xinhua

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