Small business support in Namibia's Erongo region
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In Namibia the small business sector is seen to play a very important role in the creation of jobs and the growth of the economy. At the same time small enterprises face a wide range of problems, which keep the failure rates of new ventures high and often prevent dynamic business growth. To address these challenges it is insufficient to have a national strategy for small businesses or to just rely on national government and other national bodies. This is particularly important in a country like Namibia which has a small population, stretched over a vast territory, with huge differences in the resources and development patterns of the various regions. Against that background this study focuses on a particular area of Namibia, viz the Erongo Region along the coastal belt. It is Namibia’s best developed region after the central Windhoek/Khomes area, with the two towns, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, the harbor of Walvis Bay, the Uranium mines and tourism being the foundation for business growth. After reviewing the spectrum of small business support bodies available in Namibia the study looked at a sample of 100 small enterprises in the Erongo area. They were asked about their business engagement, business prospects, main problems experienced and their awareness and utilization of support programmes. These needs profiles were then compared to the set of actual service suppliers found in the Erongo region. This showed that in practice very few of the problems are addressed, largely due to a lack of awareness, pro-activity and cooperation on both sides: local small enterprises and local support suppliers. The study ends with a range of proposals which should, if tackled on a partnership basis and in closer cooperation between the head offices in Windhoek and local bodies, lead to a steady improvement of the SME support process.