13 Dec 2013 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 13 DEC (NAMPA) - The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) has given Omuriro Biomass' Ecologs a thumbs up for its innovative environmental product.
The company now employs 23 Namibians and cleared 300 hectares of bush since production commenced in September this year.
Aside from the benefit of reducing bush encroachment, the bank believes that this product has the ability to relieve the burden on households that are dependent on wood for cooking and heating water. Many households spend hours every week collecting or buying wood, and a product such as this has the ability to free those hours for productivity and education, the DBNs acting Head of Lending, John Mbango said in a media statement issued on Thursday.
DBN started financing Omuriro Biomass' Ecologs at the beginning of 2013.
Bush encroachment, the result of overgrazing, poses a problem for the local agriculture sector.
When cattle overgraze, they create perfect conditions for thorn bushes to shoot up. As more and more thorn bushes grow, the area available for grazing shrinks, creating difficult conditions for farmers. In addition, the thorn bushes are difficult and expensive to clear.
Innovative youth entrepreneur Heiko Meyer and established businessman Norbert Liebich saw an opportunity and business venture in these bushes.
By harvesting the invader bush they could clear land for farmers, provide a sustainable source of fuel for household fires, and reduce the incidence of cutting down protected trees such as the Camelthorn tree.
The two realised that the bush would have to be converted into the form of logs. This is how the idea of the Ecologs was born, something the bank said was a stand-out idea.
However, the process of establishing production of the Ecologs was not without its pitfalls. The manufacturing process takes place in four phases. Firstly the bush is harvested; then allowed to dry; turned into chips; and finally, the chips are formed into logs.
Unfortunately, the machine required to turn the bush into chips was damaged during transport, and the company had to delay the setup of the production chain while a new chipper was obtained.
The bank also realised that the delay in production was unavoidable, and extended the grace period on re-payment.
Ecologs are available in Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Okahandja and Oshikango. The company is also introducing the product into South Africa, the Middle East and several countries in the European Union.
Meanwhile, Mbango encouraged local entrepreneurs with ideas for consumer products to bring their business plans to DBN.
We see many ideas for services, but Namibia needs to focus on reducing its reliance on imported consumer goods, and support local products. The bank has experience in assisting manufacturers, and we would like to see more products which we have financed on the shelves of Namibian shops, he added.