Start-Up Namibia: improving the country’s start-up ecosystem

Project description

Title: Start-Up Namibia & Digital Center
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Namibia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade
Overall term: 2019 to 2022

Context

In Namibia, the current conditions for start-ups and for upscaling small businesses are inadequate. Support structures for start-ups are still in their very early stages, but do show promise for the future. Start-Up Namibia therefore aims to improve the conditions for the establishment and growth of start-ups in selected regions in Namibia. Start-ups can drive job creation in Namibia and positively impact overall economic productivity. They can also contribute to economic growth by spurring innovation and creating a competitive business environment.

Objective

Conditions for the establishment and growth of start-ups are improving in selected regions in Namibia.

Approach

Start-ups can boost economic growth by encouraging innovation and a competitive business ecosystem. They can also drive job creation and improve productivity. The project enables entrepreneurs to bring new ideas that can stir innovation and stimulate competition. In Namibia, combining innovation and digitalisation with traditional industries presents new opportunities. Digitalisation in particular could go towards solving many social and economic problems and thus significantly impact Namibia’s sustainable development.

Start-ups cluster and thrive in ecosystems with the necessary resources for success. These include good universities, incubators, public- and private-sector support, and access to expert services like legal, accounting and consulting services. This ecosystem has been inadequate or lacking in many regions of Namibia, leaving new start-ups and their growth potential below expectations.

Start-Up Namibia runs an incubation and innovation centre called “Basecamp”, with a co-working space, maker-space, community area and a small shop. It serves as a “one-stop shop” for all the needs that start-ups face during their ideation, establishment, incubation and growth phases. There are also mobile outreach units and pop-up camps in three regions in Namibia. Basecamp is independent, and its sustainable business model is run by a contractor selected as part of an international bid for tenders. Start-Up Namibia’s Digital Transformation Centre focuses on challenges for digital start-ups, enhancing digital skills and building a tech/IT ecosystem with pan-African networking.

The project also improves access to financial services for start-ups by making them investment-ready. The best-performing start-ups in Basecamp’s and Digital Center’s incubation and acceleration programmes have access to Start-Up Namibia’s “Slingshot Fund”, with milestone-based grants of up to 5,000 Euros. 

Cooperation with a wide range of partners has been set up to expand the Start-up Centre services, while building the foundation of a strong Namibian start-up ecosystem.

The Digital Centre also supports IT&Tech start-ups and aims to improve digital skills for businesses and vulnerable groups (girls, women, youth, people with disabilities). The project will also leverage potential for collaboration with local, regional and global private sector players in the area of digitalisation and the digital economy.

Results

  • In 2020, more than 430 clients (50 per cent female) used Basecamp’s services (programmes, workshops, bootcamps).
  • To date, 10 start-ups received seed funding of up to 5,000 Euros each from Start-Up Namibia’s Slingshot Fund.
  • Basecamp’s co-working spaces offer a total of 20 co-working desks.
  • Start-Up Namibia signed 16 cooperation agreements with stakeholders to improve start-up services, broaden regional reach and ensure Basecamp’s financial viability.
  • The Digital Transformation Centre was officially launched on 1 December 2020.
  • As part of the 2020 COVID-19 Relief Measures, Start-Up Namibia issued grants to more than 600 beneficiaries worth NAD 15,000 each to assist start-ups in offsetting the detrimental economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 1,600 small businesses received hygiene and PPE kits to make it easier for them to operate during the pandemic.

Last update: April 2021

StartUp Namibia Team at Basecamp - the Incubation and Innovation Centre

Further Information