ITS ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR SDGIIF WINDOW 2
The United Nations Development Programme in Namibia (UNDP Namibia), Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT), Standard Bank Namibia (SBN) and the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) have jointly established the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Investment Facility (SDGIIF). The EIF serves as the SDGIIF Project Manager. The facility was launched on the 2nd November 2020.
The SDGIIF is used to provide grant match financing to women and youths in business, social enterprises and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to address the challenges of the financing gap to MSMEs. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2017 estimated the annual financing gap to MSMEs in Namibia to be $1.8 billion. SDGIIF is a blended investment vehicle to improve sustainable financing mechanisms to local challenges and accelerate the achievement of SDGs. The SDGIIF offers the Namibian economy and private sector opportunities to broaden the economic participation of its population by unlocking financial investments to enhance economic growth, reducing unemployment and stimulate social innovations to address pressing socio-economic challenges. The impact investment facility platform is aimed at accelerating the implementation of SDGs with the support of the private sector. Through dynamic partnerships the programme intends to encourage the private sector to transform their traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) into modern corporate social investments (CSI) that have a greater and standardize measurable impact. This partnership will allow corporates to invest in social impact micro and small enterprises with the aim of turning them into potential suppliers for local and regional value chains. At local value chain level, such investments are expected to result in enhanced technical capacities for the commercialization of social innovations. Namibia recognizes the importance of attaining the SDGs. This is reflected by the country’s contribution in the SDGs formulation processes and serving as a member of the High-Level Committee representing the African sub-region on SDGs. The country’s commitment to SDGs is further reflected by the integration of the SDGs into the Namibia’s Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5). This is enough evidence that Namibia is committed towards the Global Goals. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that the approaches and methodologies applied in implementing SDGs leads to the desired results.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused a global health emergency and created new challenges, but also aggravated the youth unemployment situation in Namibia. The country’s efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19, while commendable, have not only resulted in disruption of economic activity but also threatened the survival of many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The stringent limitations on business operations occasioned by the lockdown disproportionately affected trade in goods and services especially for SMEs. Jobs and livelihood opportunities have been lost following SMEs’ temporary closures due to business and liquidity drying up.
The calls for proposals during the respective earmarked windows will provide micro business stimulus grants as well as competitive matching grant awards along with mentoring, capacity building and entrepreneurship development training to MSME owners with businesses that are legally recognised under the Laws of the Namibia, operating in any of the targeted sectors of agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, renewable energy, information technology; with a product or service on the market.
The recipients of the funding also receive tailored business development services and enterprise development training from the MIT EMPRETEC Business Development and mentorship from UNDP Accelerator lab to foster the nexus between business development services and development solutions.
It is worth highlighting that the Namibian SME contribution to the GDP and employment is one of the lowest in Sub-Sharan Africa. It is estimated that Namibian SME’s only responsible for 20% of employment and 12% of GDP. According to the Namibia’s SMEs policy, there an estimated 33 700 SMEs (of which around 15 000 are formally registered) providing some form of employment and income to 160 000 Namibian citizens, accounting for approximately one third of the nation’s workforce.
The Facility has three funding window periods. The first window call saw a total of 35 fledging and aspiring entrepreneurs receive support to the tune of N$ 2.5 Million in grant funding. The first window financing of the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Facility (SDGIF) handover ceremony was held on the 8 November 2020. The first window saw focused on companies in agriculture, nutraceuticals and artisans receive funding. The EIF as the facility manager has seen great impact from the first window so far; having funded 35 businesses of which eighteen (18) are owned by women. Nine (9) businesses were funded under tier one and 26 were funded under tier two. These funds were disbursed across the following regions: Khomas, Oshana, Erongo, Otjozondjupa, //Kharas, Zambezi and Kavango West. The Fund remains hopeful that it will be able to touch every corner of the country, and thus encourage women and youth to apply during the second window.
The SDGIF is also used to provide mentorship grants and debt financing to women and youths in business, social enterprises and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to address the challenges of the financing gap to MSMEs. And in terms of providing mentorship to women and youth in business, the Impact of the SDGIIF is already making visible marks on the ground. On, Saturday, 27 February, the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia joined Rapote Investments CC for a day which saw the mentorship of women crop farmers in the Kunene Region. The women’s crop farmer’s sensitization day was hosted under the theme of “crop farming to mitigate the effects of climate change and Covid-19”. This one-day event saw the gathering of 45 women, of which some were existing farmers and others aspiring farmers. According to the founder and organizer, Ratonda Katjivikua, Rapote Investment CC is a newly established farm venturing into crop / vegetable production, operating in the Omaheke Region, at farm Waldhohe (Okounduve). Rapote Investments CC is a recipient of the UNDP SDG Impact Facility first window.
The expected development impact across the components of the initiative is the creation of new decent jobs in Namibia; retooling and skilling MSME owners to increase their entrepreneurial success rate and have a multiplier effect through the creation of indirect jobs and improved livelihood opportunities. Collectively, the successful entrepreneurs and MSME owners in these funding windows will contribute to reducing poverty; promote gender equality and empower women; promote sustainable economic growth and decent work; foster inclusive and green business models; ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; and improve the ecosystem for successful entrepreneurship.
Having seen the first window being concluded, window 2 will embody sustainable Tourism, Hospitality and Manufacturing sectors and call for proposals commenced March 2021 and Window 3 is all about Renewable energy and Information Technology and is ear-marked for July 2021. The call for proposals for Window 2 runs from the 1st March 2021 and close on 5 April 2021.
More information on the SDGIIF can be obtained on https://www.eif.org.na/sdgif
Jointly written by:
South-South North Young Professional
Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia.
Head: Communications & Corporate Services
Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia.