Wednesday, 18 October 2023, Windhoek
According to the 2022 Digital Financing for Sustainable Development: An Assessment and Strategy for Namibia commissioned by Government of the Republic of Namibia, with support from the United Nations (UN) in Namibia under the technical assistance of the UN Development Programme, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Namibia, though crucial, grapple with the need for digital adaptation, sustainable innovation and consistent growth. In light of these challenges, the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB) has entered into a strategic partnership with the Estonian Centre for International Development (EstDev), a government-funded foundation responsible for managing and implementing Estonia’s international development cooperation and humanitarian assistance projects. The partnership will, amongst others, culminate in the development of a digital capacity and skills development strategy for Namibian MSMEs, which will define and outline support measures for their benefit.
“We are very pleased to embark on our collaboration with the NIPDB. EstDev and NIPDB share the same motivation to deliver change. We also share the same vision to support Namibian MSMEs and start-up ecosystems. For Estonia, Namibia has a special meaning. We both gained independence at the same time, we are both small and agile, and share similar values on human rights and democratic governance. Thus, it is no wonder that Namibia is one of the African countries Estonia has prioritised for its development cooperation” Ms. Nelli Timm, Regional Advisor for Africa for EstDev.
With a combined investment of EUR 146,000 (close to N$3 million), the partnership between NIPDB and EstDev is a determined step to enhance and elevate the capabilities of the MSME sector in Namibia in areas such as online banking and eCommerce, the use of
mobile apps to streamline their activities and online market research.
The partnership, which has its roots in strategic meetings held between EstDev and NIPDB in Estonia in May 2023, will materialise in three key projects, the first of which will kick off in November 2023, in Swakopmund:
Tallinn University of Technology – This initiative aims to introduce Estonian methodologies and online tools to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Namibia, with an emphasis on sustainable growth through green technology and a circular economy.
BCS Digital Skills Academy – This initiative, led by the NIPDB, will respond to the demand for digital proficiency in Namibia, outlining strategies for the forthcoming 3-5 years, encompassing action points and an introductory training segment.
Foundation Tallinn Science Park TEHNOPOL – Aiming to consolidate economic relationships between Estonia and Namibia, this endeavour will focus on building a sustainable start-up environment, prioritising green technology, elevating entrepreneurial awareness and underpinning environmental advancement.
Speaking during the official announcement of the partnership, Executive Director: MSME Development, Innovation and Acceleration from NIPDB, Mr Dino Ballotti remarked, “The NIPDB’s mission to Estonia earlier this year offered a comprehensive view of a dynamic tech and innovation ecosystem. The insights gained and connections forged during this visit are now yielding positive results as we’ll see Namibian MSMEs benefiting from Estonia’s experiences and learnings.”
The rationale for this alliance is further strengthened by EstDev’s ongoing work to assist nations in realising their developmental targets. Their African Regional Strategy 2020-2030 positions Namibia as a key collaborator for Estonia. Moreover, Estonia’s investment in pioneering a digital transformation and fostering entrepreneurship resonates with Namibia’s strategic vision, especially when considered alongside the European Union’s green hydrogen initiative.
A call for application will be issued to invite Namibian MSMEs to take advantage of this opportunity.
Monday, 3 April, Windhoek
Twelve (12) Namibian MSMEs will have an opportunity to showcase their products at the upcoming Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) on the sidelines of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) in Cote d’Ivoire this November following their successful win at the 2023 Technovation Social which took place in Windhoek, on Friday 31 March 2023. An initiative of the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB), the 2023 TechNovation Social is a biennial event, established to support and draw inspiration from Namibia’s Culture and Creative Industry (CCI) with the aim to unlock enterprise opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The CCI in Namibia continues to be relatively under-supported and under-recognised. This was particularly apparent during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many MSMEs within the industry found themselves without an income. Conversely, this sector offers some of the most dynamic business and career opportunities worldwide. In other countries, the pandemic underscored the importance of the CCI as a catalyst for the creation of new platforms, infrastructure, and facilities, capturing the attention of the world. The NIPDB, thus, believes that an empowered CCI can carry the Namibia brand to the world through its timeless creations.
“The NIPDB is mandated to be the lead coordinator of MSME activities in Namibia and unlock enterprise opportunities that support the development and growth of MSMEs. We achieve this by fostering trust relationships between various stakeholders with the goal to bridge the gap between those who have access to capital and markets and those who need access to those resources. We believe that this is key to empowering MSMEs across industries including, but not limited to, CCI,” stated Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the NIPDB, Nangula Uaandja.
TechNovationSocial, thus, exists to rejuvenate Namibia’s CCI sector by offering MSMEs in this industry access to international markets, funding, and revenue-generating prospects, as well as a platform to carry the Namibian brand and showcase their talents on an expansive stage. MSMEs in the CCI were invited to participate in and exhibit at TechNovationSocial. The MSMEs represented various subsectors, including new media and graphic design, fashion design, architecture, technology, software development, game development, pottery, textile manufacturing, music and performing arts, cosmetology, and filmmaking, among others.
Twelve (12) MSMEs were chosen to participate in a seven-month enterprise development journey which will culminate in a participation at the CANEX Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The CANEX Summit unites creatives from across the continent and beyond, offering a platform for industry visionaries to display their work, collaborate, and forge connections with key decision-makers, influential investors, financial experts, and fellow creative professionals. With a stellar lineup of leading brands, artists, musicians, producers, and distributors, CANEX is poised to become the biggest assembly of creative talent in Africa for the year.
The winners of 2023 TechNovation Social, who represent various regions and sub-sectors are:
This is what two of the winners had to say:
As part of the journey, the 12 MSMEs will participate in a training programme to gain the most value from their experience and participation. Amongst others, the programs will focus on brand development, capacity building, pitching for television and brand visibility through the partner and sponsor organisations – Coca Cola Beverages Africa, FNB Namibia, City of Windhoek, Multichoice Namibia, Turipamwe, Redflag, Creative Culture Investments, Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) at the Intra-African Trade Forum (IATF), Business Box and the MTC Windhoek Fashion Week.
Private sector collaboration is a crucial driver of MSME growth and development in Namibia, and we are grateful for the unwavering support of our key sponsor for the TechNovation Social event, FNB Namibia, a demonstration of their commitment. “Technovation creates a platform for FNB Namibia’s clients within the cultural and creative industry to grow their businesses, meet like minded individuals as well as engage potential investors while also inspiring the next generation of business owners to chase their dreams and make tangible contributions to our nation,” stated Communication Specialist at FNB Namibia, Hileni Amadhila.
“While creatives work from a place of passion, it is equally crucial to prioritise the business and financial aspects of their ventures. If they are unable to handle these matters themselves, investing in a knowledgeable and trustworthy support team can be the difference between success and failure. Talent alone is not always sufficient to achieve success. To take the business to the next level, one needs to leverage new tools and resources. We at the NIPDB, along with our partners, want to support them on that journey,” shared Executive Director: MSME Development Innovation and Acceleration at the NIPDB, Dino Ballotti.
Global triumphs in the CCI have propelled economic growth in numerous countries. The Philippines has capitalised on pageant participation, utilising events like Miss Universe and Miss World to enhance its global presence, attract tourists, and showcase its cultural heritage. Similarly, the fashion industries in France and Italy have significantly contributed to their economic growth, with Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks positioning them at the vanguard of the global fashion industry, catalysing job creation, innovation, and exports of luxury goods and textiles.
Therefore, through TechNovation Social, we aim to leverage the potential of the creative economy to drive economic transformation, job creation, and sustainable human development. By placing MSMEs with their talents and skills at the centre of the development process and fostering cooperation across all levers of the economy, we can create a more inclusive and socially cohesive society. Our goal is to unlock the full potential of the creative industry and use it to leapfrog our economy into the much-touted knowledge economy.