WINDHOEK, SEPT. 5 – Erastus Amenya, based in Rosh Pinah, is one of numerous entrepreneurs who have routinely received business growth support from SMEs Compete and the FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust. From humble beginnings as a vehicle washing business, Amenya has grown his firm, Ondje Trading Enterprises cc, into a significant employer in that southern mining town and today has a staff complement of 24 employees.
Over the past decade, Amenya has diversified his operations. Not only does he clean vehicles and mining equipment, including conveyor belts on-site at Skorpion Zinc Mine, but also operates a laundry, provides transport service, manages waste water, runs a car wash facility in the town’s centre, a fish shop in the high-density suburb of Tutungeni, develops and manages property and even has a farming operation in the northern town of Omuthiya.
Erastus says: “None of this would have been possible without the unwavering support of my banker. FNB Namibia has stood by me through thick and thin, and the routine mentorship and guidance I regularly receive from SMEs Compete has also helped.” Asked about his management style, Amenya says he emulates his role model, Namibian business icon, Aupa Frans Indongo. “When it comes to growth and diversification, I work alongside my staff, keep my eye on the ball at all times, and maintain a solid working relationship with my bank and suppliers,” he adds: “When I don’t know, I ask, and I listen to the advice of SMEs Compete, as they just like FNB, are always there for me.”
FNB Namibia established an SME Business Unit in 2005 to specifically service the needs of budding and novice entrepreneurs and added tailored products and services over the years to meet the needs of Namibia’s small and medium enterprise sector. The bank, through its FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust, further decided to support SME sector development programmes of many organisations, tertiary educational institutions, governmental departments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that nurture entrepreneurship and foster an enterprise culture among young Namibians.
One of the organisations the FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust works with is SMEs Compete. Founded by Claudine Mouton, Collin Gaochab Kakuva and Danny Meyer under a partnership arrangement, FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust and the German Development Service DED now part of GIZ, SMEs Compete provides an array of business growth support services to SMEs across Namibia. This includes mentorship, skills development, book-keeping and administration system development and implementation, status regularisation and compliance assistance, as well as marketing support among others.
“Although other corporate firms and development institutions fund business and job creation programmes of SMEs Compete, the FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust remains a key supporter,” says SMEs Compete’s Claudine Mouton. “What we like about working with FNB is the constant development and introduction of services that make it easier for SMEs to access funding to start or grow business,” adds Mouton, referring to the bank’s SME Special Fund.
With FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust’s backing, SMEs Compete supports hundreds of other entrepreneurs like Erastus Amenya across the country. The number of SMEs helped with the FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust over the past decade tops the 2 000 mark.