Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation (MHETI) has officially launched the Students Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) which is expected to create a highly skilled and competitive as set out in the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) and Vision 2030. Speaking at the SEP launch this week, Higher Education Minister Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi said the programme was a Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) initiative which intends to “identify and nurture student leaders” at tertiary institutions. “SEP is thus the Ministry’s Harambee Prosperity Plan initiative that seeks to identify, develop and nurture student leaders at tertiary institutions to cultivate a strong culture of the idea amongst the student population,” “Vision 2030 and Harambee Prosperity should serve as impetus for skills development, job creation, poverty eradication and nation building. Those should further inspire both our tertiary institutions and industry to produce entrepreneurial, balanced and diverse graduates who are keen to participate in the economy as employers and employees,” noted Kandjii-Murangi.
SEP intends to establish networking opportunities between students and existing successful entrepreneurs while also establishing entrepreneurial “ecosystems” to nurture upcoming entrepreneurial minds, Kandjii-Murangi added. In addition, SEP is aimed at cultivating an entrepreneurial mind-set among tertiary students and helping them to acquire the skills for building their dream business. More than 200 participants from Namibia’s top universities and vocational training centres (VTCs) had the opportunity to share challenges, new developments and address policy-related matters with a diverse group of local and international entrepreneurial experts during the two-day conference. In order to achieve the goals laid out in the SEP programme, Kandjii-Murangi said: “Holding annual student entrepreneurial conferences for student population to communicate challenges, new developments, functional matters and to address policy related matters for improved entrepreneurial participation.”In the same way, the Higher education Ministry will introduce national and regional entrepreneurial awards to “motivate” prospective student entrepreneurs. Some of the notable personalities that attended the two-day conference include Northern based businessman Ben Zaaruka and First Lady Monica Geingos who is the founder and executive director of One Economy Foundation.
Speaking at the SEP conference, Geingos said in order to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship, students need to equip themselves with “capacity, confidence and capital”. Geingos said: “What I see this programme wants to achieve is the three Cs, confidence, capital and capacity. Confidence is something that comes from capacity. So, when I get into a private equity conference, I walk in confidence only because I have capacity because there’s nothing people can tell me about private equity. I have experience, I’ve worked and I know. So experience is important,” said Geingos. Similarly, Geingos urged aspiring entrepreneurs to build up their confidence levels because it is difficult to sell a product or service without “confidence”. “If you don’t have confidence, how do you sell a product or a service? If you come into my office and can’t sell (your product) to me, the financier, how the hell are you going sell it to people on the ground? “Confidence is not only knowing that what you are doing is the right thing, but it is confidence within yourself and I can see it (confidence) the moment you walk into my office and my shortcut to having confidence was first having capacity,” said the First Lady. Thirdly, Geingos said students should know the right people and institutions which can provide them with capital. “I do hope that there is going to be a moment where you speak to young people (and tell them) who the people (that provide capital are) because it’s not only banks and private equity firms,” Geingos suggested. The First Lady further said: “There are friends and family and there’s a lot of people in this country with a lot of money and are not sure what to do with it. So I think we need a conversation where we will discuss who are the capital providers, what are the requirements. Understanding the funding landscape in the country is important”.
On state procurement
Moreover, Geingos said she intentionally stayed away from benefiting from applying for state tenders because she never wanted be forced to be “nice” to anybody. “I have not made a “single cent” from state procurement in my 15 years of doing corporate business. In my entire CV (curriculum vitae), you will not see where I have made a single cent from state procurement, it is something that I intentionally stayed away from,” charged Geingos. “The reason why I stayed away from it (state procurement) is because I have a bit of an attitude. I never wanted to be forced to be nice to anybody (in order to secure a state tender). However, Geingos said she has nothing against ‘tenderpreneurs’, a term used in Namibia to describe a few politically well-connected individuals who have become overnight millionaires by greatly benefiting from government tenders. “I’ve got nothing against what is now called tenderpreneurship. As a matter of fact, I’m not entirely in agreement with that word (tenderpreneurship). So it’s really difficult to make it in business with absolutely without the provision of services or goods to government. So I am not condemning tenderpreneurship in any way. As a matter of fact, I see it as a necessity,” she said.