Thousands of local SME registrations

A total of 1 719 registered SMEs closed down during 2015 to 2016.

14 November 2017 | Business

Staff reporter - More than 15 000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were recorded by the ministry of trade and industry between 2000 and 2016.

Of these, 605 were financed by commercial banks, Bank Windhoek said in a statement.

Current statistics reveal that a total number of 1 719 registered SMEs closed down during 2015 to 2016.

“This necessitated debates among various scholars,” said Joseph Sheehama, manager of Bank Windhoek’s Katutura Branch.

Sheehama presented the findings on his study, titled “Exploring Sustainable Economic Challenges and Opportunities Experienced by the Funded Small and Medium Enterprises at a Selected Commercial Bank in Namibia”, at the recently concluded Sustainable Economic Growth and Social Development Conference.

Overall findings revealed that SMEs were experiencing challenges that impeded their operation - access to finance, employee turnover and availability of affordable business premises.

The study’s findings on the socio-economic demographic data had a 100% response rate – 40% female and 60% male. The majority operated from the SME Incubator Centre in Windhoek. Forty participants out of a total of 70 specialised in the manufacturing and construction sector. Only eight conducted business in the education and training sector.

Opportunities available

There are various sustainable opportunities available to SME owners. “Major employers of unskilled or semi-skilled workforce need to be supported in order to recruit citizens, especially the youth,” said Sheehama.

There is also an essential need for monetary assistance from financial institutions.

The study provides recommendations that can serve as guidelines. Firstly, training programmes need to be strengthened in SME divisions. Topics such as managing work diversity, stress management and integration of technologies in businesses for improved performance need to be prioritised.

Secondly, stakeholders need to introduce leadership and management programmes.

Conclusions

The study concluded that the majority of SMEs are in the manufacturing, construction and agricultural sector. Most of them are experiencing major economic challenges, such as access to finance, high employees turn over, lack of start-up capital and management skills deficiency.

Sheehama said that in order to achieve sustainability, these issues should be addressed. He also pointed out that the education and training sector needs to be explored as they can contribute to the country’s economy.

Sheehama was part of a group of MBA students selected by economic professors from the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).

His study will soon be published on the website of the International Journal on Current Research (IJCR).

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