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Launch of One Economy Foundation COVID-19 Survival Kit For Youth Entrepreneurs

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

The Embassy of Ireland, Lusaka and the One Economy Foundation (ONE) are pleased to announce a new grant partnership of N$292,000 to convene a forum to address the most pressing challenges that youth entrepreneurs are facing during COVID-19 and to brainstorm pragmatic and actionable ways to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on their businesses. The forum specifically focuses on mental health and innovation.

Following a visit to Namibia by the Minister of Children and Youth Affairs of Ireland, cooperation and partnership in addressing the challenges faced by adolescents and young adults have been explored between Namibia and Ireland. The visit included participation at a #BeFree Dialogue hosted by the One Economy Foundation and helped build the platform for continued cooperation and support.

While countries across the world have come together to overcome the health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to also recognise and address the associated social and economic challenges faced by young entrepreneurs. The impact of COVID-19 to businesses, industry and the economy is receiving increasing and needed attention and focus in Namibia. However, an equally important impact which is mostly overlooked, is the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of entrepreneurs, especially young entrepreneurs.

In response, the One Economy Foundation, with the support of the Embassy of Ireland, will convene an event to explore the impact of COVID-19 on young entrepreneurs and to provide a space for peer-to-peer learning.

“Ireland is pleased to contribute to the One Economy Foundation in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we are supportive of its work in assisting young entrepreneurs deal with the challenges resulting from COVID-19 in the area of mental health. The pandemic has impacted on how we all work and presents new stresses and demands on everybody. It is important that young entrepreneurs are assisted in dealing with the stress resulting from COVID-19 and learn appropriate coping skills. We are very impressed with the work of One Economy Foundation and its innovative approaches to addressing issues affecting young people in Namibia and we hope that our support will help the Foundation with its important work,” H.E. Ambassador Séamus O’Grady, Ambassador of the Embassy of Ireland to Zambia and Namibia.

Mrs. Monica Geingos, First Lady of the Republic of Namibia and Founder of the One Economy Foundation emphasized that the forum recognises the importance of young entrepreneurs as a vital backbone for the reinvigoration of the Namibian economy as the country emerges from this health emergency. She further expressed that during these difficult times, the One Economy Foundation, with the support of the Embassy of Ireland, will work to ensure that Namibian youth are given the support and tools to overcome and endure during the current exceptional circumstances and emerge well prepared to build on new opportunities.

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 project achieved the following strategic objectives:

1. Built resilience of young entrepreneurs;

2. The Up-skilling of young entrepreneurs with critical business skills;

3. Provided financial support through business funding;

4. Facilitated peer to peer learning and experience sharing;

5. Equipped young entrepreneurs with practical coping mechanisms; and

6. Developed a database on youth entrepreneurs operating across various sectors

The first part of the survival toolkit was held on 25 July 2020 focused on mental health and the second part which focused on innovation was held on 08 August 2020.

The forum focused on equipping youth entrepreneurs with relevant information pertaining to financing, trade and collaboration opportunities. Ms. Mahevo Kadhepa, Strategic Investments Analyst at Development Bank of Namibia, highlighted the numerous youth-specific funding opportunities offered by DBN. Mrs. Stacey Susa Pinto, Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Trade Forum, provided insight on how youth can access trade opportunities existing in Namibia and beyond. She advised youth entrepreneurs to collaborate and form partnerships with individuals and organisations to increase production capacity for greater impact, and to make use of channels such as Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Namibia Trade Forum for advice and guidance. Ms. Anna Vambe, Project Manager at Start-up Namibia, shared the work of the organisation while highlighting the opportunities available for entrepreneurs.

The Collaborative and Inclusive Tech Hub from NUST facilitated a session on innovation, mapping how entrepreneurs can innovate and collaborate to achieve common objectives while optimizing the resources at their disposal. During one of the exercises, the attendees paired up and they shared how COVID-19 affected their businesses and exchanged ideas on how to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic and adapt to change.

To promote peer to peer experience sharing, Mr. Jerobeam Mwedihanga, founder of Tambula Online Shop, shared his experience on starting a business during a time of crisis. He expanded on the work of Tambula Online Shop, which facilitates the sale of street vendors’ fresh produce by linking them to their market through an online delivery platform. In doing so, it emphasises the need to find innovative ways to tackle the challenges presented by crises i.e. COVID-19 pandemic.

The highlight of the Forum was the Pitching Competition, which had youth entrepreneurs vying for the coveted first and second prizes. The judges were on the lookout for feasible and innovative business ideas. The judging panel consisted of Tom Shilongo, founder of Launch Namibia, Anna Vambe, Project Manager at Start-Up Namibia and Honourable Emma Kantema-Gaomas, the Deputy Minister: Sports, Youth and National Service.

The youth entrepreneurs pitched both physically and virtually to accommodate countrywide participation. The competition was tough and the entrepreneurs did not make it easy for the judges. In the end, two participants emerged victorious, Elivi Shinedima from Ndjuluwa97 Academy and Andreas Elifas from Jumper Namibia, won N$30,000 and N$20,000 respectively towards the growth of their businesses.In addition to anchor sponsorThe Embassy of Ireland, Lusaka, the forum was also made possible by the valued sponsorship of Coca-Cola Namibia Bottling Company and Start-Up Namibia Incubation Centre.

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