Nampro Fund extends helping hand to SME

Windhoek-The Namibia Procurement Fund (Nampro Fund) last week donated N$24,277 to an Okahandja-based small business called TR Embrace Namibia Enterprise cc, to assist the business to reach its goals of being the first Namibian manufacturer and distributer of locally produced school chalk products.

My research indicated that all the chalk used in Namibian classrooms are imported from South Africa, Germany and even as far as Vietnam, China and India, said the young innovator and entrepreneur Maria Nikodemus.

Nampro Fund is a bridging finance solution for SMEs that are experiencing high growth but need short-term finance to meet their contract obligations.

However, through its Enterprise Development Programme the Fund also comes to the aid of upcoming small businesses that demonstrate the skill, strategy and potential to embark on a lucrative business venture but lack the financial resources to do so.

According to Nikodemus, Embrace Namibia Enterprise was born to fill a void in the country's education and manufacturing sector.

Investigations revealed that our country has all the raw materials required to manufacture chalk in ample supply. I then looked into the actual production process and found that it was rather simple. At first I wondered why nobody else had taken this opportunity yet. And then I decided that I would, said Nikodemus.

Today, TR Embrace Namibia Enterprise cc is emerging as the first Namibian manufacturer of locally produced, high quality chalk products that are environmentally friendly, non-toxic and produce zero waste. Yet securing the finances to keep production, packaging and subsequent marketing initiatives going has proved a challenge. Retailers indicated they would only be interested in the chalk products if they were properly packaged, and as a start-up TR Embrace Namibia Enterprise cc lacked the financial resources for such packaging.

Thanks to the Harambee Plan, the Office of the First Lady referred TR Embrace Namibia Enterprises cc to Nampro Fund, which saw the SME's potential and decided to donate the funds required to package the chalk products for distribution in the market.

Nampro Fund is in the business of uplifting SMEs, explains Josephine Shikongo, head of finance and administration at Nampro Fund.

We were particularly impressed with this proposal, seeing that it impacts education and aims to replace a product that is currently being imported from outside the country with a product manufactured on Namibian soil. As our goal is to have proudly Namibian products available for Namibian use, we knew that this was an initiative that we wanted to support, said Shikongo.

Derek Wright, the Nampro Fund's chairperson, congratulated Nikodemus on her innovation and tenacity in pursuing an initiative that aims to address some of the biggest challenges Namibia faces.

Young entrepreneurs like yourself have the drive to get things done. It is wonderful to see that you have taken the initiative to identify a need in the market that is associated with education, which is one of our greatest needs. You have come up with an idea that has touched on what we as Nampro Fund like to do to assist young entrepreneurs. It is thus with great pleasure that we hand over this donation that will smooth the road ahead for your business so that you can achieve the goals you have set, said Wright.

Nampro Fund's Enterprise Development Programme is geared specifically towards promoting SME development in the country. Through this programme it funds viable business initiatives that lack the necessary financial capital to get the business off the ground, events aimed at promoting SME development in Namibia and initiatives aimed at promoting entrepreneurship in schools and vocational centres.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia