Corona challenges motivate
Creative Entrepreneurship Programme
A group of creative entrepreneurs in various disciplines have since May 2020 engaged with each other and advisors on how to make the best of their business ideas, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The Creative Entrepreneurship Programme (CEP) that the 14 businesses are beneficiaries of, is a partnership between the Goethe-Institut Namibia and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
“Adapting the CEP and its components of workshops and peer-to-peer sessions to the limitations of social distancing has been a challenge but indeed one that we have overcome,” said Goethe-Institut Namibia Director, Daniel Stoevesandt. He explained how the unprecedented situation encouraged the involvement of another local partner, Dololo, for the facilitation of some online programme components. “The 14 businesses have all had the opportunity to attend digital workshops and access materials online, which I think is a step in the right direction as technology becomes more important in business operations,” he said.
The CEP is for creative start-ups and is supported by the GIZ Start-Up Namibia Programme, to the tune of N$780,000. GIZ Project Manager, Anna Vambe explained the rationale behind the Start-Up Namibia initiative that has been in operation since 2019. “The environment for establishing and upscaling the operations of start-ups in Namibia is inadequate in terms of supporting the small and medium enterprises for them to develop a sustainable business model that amongst many creates employment, offers competition in the markets and spurs innovation,” she said. The CEP thus offers creative entrepreneurs access to information and practices concerning business development, entrepreneurial self-understanding, design thinking, marketing, customer research, branding, sales, legal principles, establishing partnerships, insurance, finances management, health and other aspects important for a business to grow.
Dololo is a privately-owned service provider that facilitates workshops, advises businesses on their development and specializes in the development of an entrepreneurial culture in Namibia. “Dololo is excited to be part of the CEP and has developed the first online component of the programme in the light of business development, entrepreneurship skills, and insights to creatives for them to build sustainable businesses around their talent and skill,” said Dololo Co-Founder & Head of Operations, Chantal Claasen. Apart from the online resources, beneficiaries also have access to the DoBox – a co-working space in the central of Windhoek that offers a reliable Internet connection, the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and complete any online components of the CEP.
One of the beneficiaries, Fallone Tambwe and Chante Bock from FC Textiles and Crafts, said the understanding of their business and how it operates has changed. “Apart from the social distancing rules making interaction with each other difficult and sealing the deals with clients uncertain, the Corona pandemic and CEP have forced us to grow and become more tech savvy, which is a good thing,” they said. Tambwe and Bock explained that having some of the CEP online has included some technical difficulties that delayed their involvement but in the end, had them learn something new. All beneficiaries agreed that adapting the programme and going digital has made access to course materials easier and spurred growth towards better self-management using digital technologies. “CEP is preparing us for the fourth industrial revolution that includes the digitization of business operations said Johannes Hangula and Erastus Hangula from Hekami Audio Namibia. Rosalia Neshuku from Namutse African Fabrics and Designs said the CEP’s digitization has enabled her online participation, as she lives along the Namibian coast in Swakopmund.
The elimination and final process of selecting the beneficiaries from the over 50 applications included three judges – each with their own experience in starting a business and having it grow. One of the judges was David Mbeha, a TV host and communications specialist. He said one of the most important aspects of a business is an outstanding profile and portfolio because exposure is important. “When selecting the final beneficiaries, I focused on two aspects: innovation and feasibility. I was looking for new and exciting business ideas that would truly impact the Namibian economy in a positive, sustainable and progressive manner. Those ideas must be communicated effectively by your profile and portfolio,” he said.
Following budget developments and another investment in the programme from the GIZ, beneficiaries also receive a monthly stipend in response to the interruption of creative’s operations. “The creative industry, globally, has been hit hard by the pandemic that at first glance hit tourism the hardest. Creatives in Namibia and those around the world who depend on staging performances or selling their products and skills directly have not been able to make ends meet. The stipend is granted in solidarity with the beneficiaries and other creatives in Namibia” said Stoevesandt. All beneficiaries expressed gratitude for the stipend and intend to spend it on product development and the retention of employees.