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One Economy Foundations builds the resilience of youth entrepreneurs

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

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On 25 July 2020, the One Economy Foundation hosted the first part of the COVID-19 Survival Kit for Youth Entrepreneurs. Sem Mandela Uutoni, Chief Executive Officer Designate said, “The forum is provided a space to discuss the most pressing challenges that youth entrepreneurs are facing during COVID-19, and to brainstorm practical and actionable ways to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on their businesses and mental health.”

A critical outcome from the forum was to build the resilience of entrepreneurs which is a prerequisite in building strong businesses. Therefore, the wellness of entrepreneurs beyond the balance sheet is a priority to ensure the longevity of a business and avoid burn-out. Verona du Preez, Operations Manager at Bel-Esprit Clinic, reiterated that “Mental health issues have no boundaries. They do not discriminate - they affect people of all ages, races, social and economic backgrounds, and standards. Do not isolate yourself; remain connected to entrepreneurs who can relate.”

The forum also addressed the issues that contribute to mental strain specifically debt and limited understanding of financial management. Crises can have unprecedented effects on small and medium enterprises due to limited resources. This may force entrepreneurs to seek additional financial resources to keep their businesses afloat. A key result is that entrepreneurs have to pivot both their business and value proposition to respond to the new reality. Afra Schimming-Chase emphasized that “Debt is both an obligation and a responsibility, one that is sometimes necessary.” She encouraged entrepreneurs to assess their business models, to be strategic about their debt, and to understand why they undertook their specific venture, to decide whether acquiring debt to finance their business would be essential.

James Mnyupe, Managing Director at Allan Gray Namibia, also underlined that “as much as risk scares people, it also hypes people. As asset managers, we try to instill humility in valuing your business by applying a stress test that will illustrate the growth potential of the business model.” He further highlighted the significance of being concise when pitching your business, to relay your value proposition to the audience of investors.

Technology is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to address emerging mental health challenges in an innovative, responsive, and timely manner. The Youth Forum explored the intersections of mental health and technology by incorporating numerous tech-enabled simulations. These engagements allowed entrepreneurs to interact with apps and group games centered on mental health, its effects, and tech-enabled coping mechanisms. The interactive session was achieved through a smart partnership between the Collaborative and Innovation Tech Hub (NUST) and the One Economy Foundation.

The forum reinforced the importance of holistic response to the needs of youth entrepreneurs and critical opportunities that youth can leverage to future proof their business and accelerate their growth and in new markets and industries. The second part of the COVID-19 Survival Toolkit is scheduled to take place on 08 August 2020 and will zoom in on the changing business landscape and how youth entrepreneurs can innovate businesses to remain competitive.

One Economy Foundation thanked the Embassy of Ireland in Lusaka, Coca Cola Namibia, and Start-Up Namibia for their support and making the event possible.

For more information, contact Hilma Petrus, Executive Assistant on 061 270 7806 / .

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