Otjozondjupa businesspeople want protective policies

03 Sep 2015 12:00pm
OTJIWARONGO, 03 SEP (NAMPA) – Several businesspeople in the Otjozondjupa Region have called on Government to formulate policies that protect their viable business ideas of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The businesspeople expressed their concerns at a one-day consultative meeting that was organised by the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development at Otjiwarongo on Wednesday.
Approximately 100 people attended the meeting at the Swanevelder Community Hall where they made suggestions and asked questions to members of a technical committee that is conducting regional consultative meetings on MSMEs around the country.
Development Planner in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Nafimane Shipanga said the regional consultative meetings are aimed at soliciting inputs and views on a proposed draft of a national policy that will guide operations of MSMEs in the country.
Shipanga said the regional consultative meetings are important, as the views of businesspeople around the country will form part of a new document that will replace the national policy of 1997 on which small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were founded on.
He said that the revised national policy on MSMEs will also re-align itself with the national objectives as expressed in Vision 2030, the National Development Plans (NDP) and the country’s Industrial Policy.
Shipanga explained that the 1997 SME policy was focused on encouraging citizens to start up small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing sector, but since then the document was never developed and updated to include new developments in the business dealings of SMEs. He said a new policy document is therefore expected to include and match with developments in the industry.
Contributing to discussions at the meeting, the owner of Raban Investment CC, Matias Raban asked why the MSMEs policy document ignores the security and safety of new business ideas often submitted to the ministry for approval.
He said the new policy document must include a clause that deals with the protection of viable and new business ideas.
Raban said he has experienced the theft of viable and new business ideas by some officials in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
He alleged that some officials would steal viable new business ideas for themselves, or give them to their close relatives who would then make them out to be their own.
Raban claimed that some businesspeople had secured funding from Government and banks after using these stolen business ideas with the assistance of officials in the ministry.
A successful businesswoman, Wilma Gaweses, who operates businesses in public transport and construction, supported Raban’s suggestion.
Gaweses said the new policy document must include a section that will protect the copyright and intellectual property of viable and new business ideas.
She suggested that the ministry must trademark new business ideas before they are registered in the system, as a way of protecting them from being stolen.
She also suggested the inclusion of a clause in the new policy that spells out how the ministry would nurture, grow MSMEs, upgrade and monitor them to become big businesses that no longer depend or ask support from the ministry.
On his part, Shipanga said all the contributions made at Otjiwarongo will be taken into consideration when formulating the new draft policy document that will guide the operations of MSMEs in the country.
Shipanga said some of the questions and concerns of the businesspeople will be turned into solutions for the challenges facing the majority of the MSMEs in the country.
Technical Advisor in the same ministry, Caroline Girard said the new policy document on MSMEs defines a micro business as an entity consisting of one to 10 employees, and with an annual turnover of N.dollars 300 000.
A small business is defined as consisting of 11 to 30 employees and has an annual turnover of N.dollars 3 million.
The new policy defines a medium enterprise as a business with 31 to 100 employees, and which is able to accumulate an annual turnover of N.dollars 10 million.
Girard had urged businesspeople who attended the meeting to ask questions, make contributions and even criticise her technical team, as long as their views were based on the MSMEs draft policy document that was distributed amongst participants.