“A country without entrepreneurs is like an army without soldiers”: Shiimi

Martin Endjala

The Minister of Finance and Public Enterprise, Iipumbu Shiimi, delivered a powerful message during the Good Business Awards held by the Development Bank of Namibia in Windhoek on Tuesday.

He emphasized the critical role entrepreneurs play in a country’s development, likening them to soldiers in an army.

Shiimi stated, “Any country that does not have entrepreneurs is like an army without soldiers, and you can never win a war if you don’t have soldiers.”

He highlighted the significance of entrepreneurs in wealth creation, job opportunities, and providing livelihoods for others. He added that those who venture into the business sector are vital to society and should be celebrated, nurtured, supported, and encouraged.

Drawing from his previous role as the Governor of the Bank of Namibia, Shiimi discussed the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in accessing finance.

He mentioned the need for more than just financial assistance, citing the importance of mentorship, capital participation, loans, and access to markets for SMEs. This led to the establishment of the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme, with the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) as the central hub for supporting SMEs.

Shiimi acknowledged that entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted, as it requires facing challenges head-on.

He encouraged entrepreneurs to view themselves as soldiers of the country and to persevere, inspire others, and work for the economic advancement of the nation.

However, Shiimi noted that the research indicates a preference among the majority of young people, especially graduates, for government or private sector employment over entrepreneurship.

He recognized the need to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture among the youth and highlighted the importance of events like the Good Business Awards in fostering entrepreneurship.

Meanwhile, John Steytler, CEO of DBN, shared that 46 percent of DBN’s SME loan portfolio contributes to job creation, accounting for 30 percent of job creation in the country over the past two decades.

He also pledged to digitalize the SME loan application process, currently done manually.

Jerome Mutumba, Head of Marketing and Communications at DBN, called on SMEs to honour their loan agreements by repaying their loans promptly.

Doing so ensures that DBN can continue supporting emerging SMEs and those in need of financial assistance, further contributing to job creation and economic growth.

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