SMALL and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of any economy as they provide much-needed employment and create livelihoods.
This was stated by Oshikoto governor Penda ya Ndakolo during his State of the Region Address (SORA) on Wednesday.
Ya Ndakolo said most specifically, agricultural-based enterprises and start-ups provide not only jobs but also food for the community.
He said during the financial year 2021/22 a number of activities were carried out to assist and capacitate SMEs in the region to bring about economic advancement.
Over N$4.7 million was committed by various stakeholders to uplift SMEs in the region.
“The Okashana Rural Development Center, which focuses on assisting rural SMEs, has worked hard during the period under review to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of the region’s farmers and SMEs,” he said.
He indicated that the Center has conducted different community outreach services, which include training 228 farmers in various areas to contribute to food security, income generation and employment creation.
In addition, the Centre also manufactured and sold appropriate technology products at an affordable price to boost the economic activity of the region.
Ya Ndakolo stated that the Income Generating Activity (IGA) program under the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare provided materials worth N$96 602 to four rural projects.
The beneficiaries are in tailoring, brickmaking, and milling businesses respectively.
He said the program was established to contribute to the socio-economic empowerment of the less privileged by encouraging community members, particularly women, to create self-employment and employment for others.
During the year under review, the National Youth Council provided six entrepreneurs from the Oshikoto Region with a total of N$150 000 in Equipment Aid Grants, intended to assist youth in business to expand their businesses and generate additional employment opportunities.
As part of improving the business environment for hawkers, the Oniipa Town Council has constructed a hawking shelter valued at N$200 000 at the Onandjokwe open market.
The shelter will allow former street vendors to sell their products in a safe and clean environment.
Furthermore, the Omuthiya Town Council has set aside N$3 million for the construction of phase 2 of the Open Market, which will commence this financial year.
Ya Ndakolo said the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade, and SME Development is busy building the Tsumeb Industrial Park, which will be used for light industrial activities including joinery, carpentry and tailoring, and 12 units for SMEs will be available.
A total of N$19 million was spent so far.