Prioritise funding entrepreneurship over social grants: Sheehama

Martin Endjala

INDEPENDENT bank researcher and economist, Josef Sheehama says one way to alleviate teenage unemployment is to foster entrepreneurship rather than focusing solely on social grants, as some people advocate.

Sheehama told Windhoek Observer that entrepreneurial support appears to be a successful approach because it can lead to enhanced economic inclusion, less assistance dependency, and stronger social cohesion of forcibly displaced people throughout their displacement cycle.

“Despite increased coverage of social grants and well-developed social security, poverty in Namibia has historically been high. Monthly grants can greatly improve conditions; nevertheless, they will not provide the same level of support as a more comprehensive program. Given the circumstances, entrepreneurial support appears to be a viable solution because it can contribute to enhanced economic inclusion, reduced reliance on charity, and stronger social cohesiveness among forcibly displaced people throughout their displacement cycle,” he said.

Instead of offering social grants, he stated that government might help fund initiatives for individuals who are capable of working, which will result in additional job prospects.

“Furthermore, given today’s economic climate, better conditional grants to families or communities would be a more efficient way of giving assistance. However, several difficulties must still be addressed, such as identifying those in need of assistance and ensuring that monies are not wasted. Even with government support, most families struggle to meet their basic necessities.

“Additionally, our economy is going through a rough patch, and vulnerable people are suffering as a result. The price of gasoline has risen. Food and other prices have followed suit, and individuals and companies are suffering as a result. Things appear to be anxious and unsure. Our leaders should focus on what SMEs and smallholder farmers desire, rather than on social grants. Social grants are not a terrible thing, but establishing entrepreneurial prospects with adequate funding would help reduce financial burdens.

“Government’s efforts to ameliorate the plight of disadvantaged individuals did not stop there. To ensure that food prices stay low, the government should work with various farmers’ associations and agricultural value chain operators,” said Sheehama.

He further highlighted that while encouraging entrepreneurship and providing social grants can be costly to the government’s budget, it is doable. Also, existing poverty reduction initiatives should be revised to address the issue of street homelessness.

“As a result, adequate safety nets will be even more important in safeguarding the poor, allowing them to pursue the opportunities and services they require, and avoiding long-term development setbacks,” he said.

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