Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) has unveiled Mekemo Trading, a mechanical and automotive services provider, as a recipient of skills-based finance for young artisans.
The Bank’s skills-based facility for young artisans and professionals is designed to enable aspirant entrepreneurs with professional or artisan qualifications, but with limited or no collateral, to embark on the course of entrepreneurship. It also enables young entrepreneurs with emerging businesses to expand.
The Bank defines young entrepreneurs as aged 36 and younger, but will, in exceptional circumstances, accept applicants aged up to 40.
Acting Head of SME Finance Hellen Amupolo said Mekemo is an excellent example of what DBN set out to achieve with skills-based finance for young entrepreneurs.
Operated by Rens Mekemo Shilongo, aged 33, Mekemo Trading provides automotive services including mechanical services, spray painting and panel beating for cars, trucks, buses, farm implements and mining and construction equipment. Located in Katutura, the company currently employs four mechanics and two panel beaters. Rens Shilongo has an NQF3 level qualification in automotive engineering.
Talking about the impact of Mekemo, Amupolo said the enterprise checks the boxes on an ideal skills-based youth enterprise. She noted the enterprise services a number of businesses. She explained, that with a shortage of vocational skills to drive industrialization, finance for young artisans is geared to make skills that are in short supply available to a spread of enterprises.
Amupolo added that Mekemo has a track record, which shows entrepreneurial maturity and this is the likely basis for long-term sustainability and growth. She also said, that with six employees, Mekemo fulfills the need for youth entrepreneurs to create employment.
Mekemo will use the finance to purchase tools and equipment, which will enable it to expand and strengthen operations, as well as for working capital.
Commenting on his experience with Development Bank of Namibia, Rens Shilongo said the experience was very good. He hopes that the company will grow to become a large enterprise and that it will have many employees.
Talking about the Mekemo, Amupolo said the company showed willingness to put in the work necessary to develop a successful application for finance, and has shown viability. She said that if young entrepreneurs apply, but business plans are not viable, the Bank cannot lend. The Bank is socially responsible, and will not lend if repaying the loan will impoverish the borrower and her / his family.
On the topic of collateral, she reiterated that DBN accommodates young entrepreneurs with lower levels of collateral or no collateral to offer. She went on to point out that assets financed by the Bank can also be used as collateral.
Amupolo called on potential youth borrowers to visit the Bank’s website (www.dbn.com.na) and familiarize themselves with the Bank’s requirements. Once applicants are familiar with the requirements and have downloaded the applications, contact the Bank to find out how the application can proceed, she concluded.
In closing, Amupolo said that although the Bank recognizes that many youth entrepreneurs have vision and ambition, it is the responsibility of the skills-based applicant to show through business planning and cash flow projections that the business will survive and be able to repay its loans.