Start-Up! Namibia

31.07.2018 - Article

A group of German learners from Martin Luther High School (MLHS) in Okombahe on April 16, 2018 won the START-UP! competition that after two workshops on entrepreneurship provided the platform to pitch business ideas and win a trip to a two-week conference in Berlin, Germany.

Participants of the workshops
Participants of the workshops© Goethe Institut/Christian Stiebahl

The conference in Europe will expose them to the start-up environment there and the opportunity to exchange skills with other entrepreneurs, while attending a German language course.

“We have achieved something through the hard work and gained experience to be moving forward to Berlin in August,” said winner Bradley Jodd, who with Alida Katuahupira and Vickson Goraseb presented the winning idea of Road Monitoring Drones. Motivated by the concern of carnage on Namibian roads, the Grade 11 learners presented the idea of having Namibian roads monitored by drones for better policing, real-time information and a prompt emergency response. “The workshops were great and I would like to thank the organisations involved. We are all grateful for the opportunity and excited about the trip to Berlin in August,” said Goraseb.

The Goethe-Institut Namibia in collaboration with four PASCH-Fit (Schools: Partners for the Future) earlier this year invited learners from Grades 9 to 12 for participation in the competition that is also open in 12 other African countries including Senegal, South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Burkina Faso. A total of 31 entries were received from Windhoek High School (WHS), MLHS, Otjiwarongo Secondary School (OSS) and Private School Swakopmund (PSS). In the end, six teams (two from WHS and MLHS, and one from OSS and PSS each) attended two workshops.

All learners agreed that they had learnt a lot about entrepreneurship and had made new friends. “The workshops were amazing as all participants grew as a family. Even though we lost, we still feel the winning team deserves it because they are our brothers and sisters,” said Ashwin Scott, who with Teddy Neumann and Cody van Wyk (Grades 8 and 11) presented the idea of a Quick Fix App that connects customers with the house-maintenance industry and craftsmen. Another team also from WHS (Grade 9) comprising of Stephanie van Wyk, Ngatangue Tjiueza and Eva Museta presented the idea of generating energy from waste. They competed with Grade 9 learners from MLHS, Tjavanga Jeomba, Klosn Ndume and Ronaldo Kauzuu, who presented the idea of a mobile app that connects German language teachers between Africa and Germany. The two other teams consisted of Schusmeither Uaisiua, Nkosinathi Hendricks and Thrive Mahua from OSS Grade 12, who presented the Jarokee Recreational Centre in their town that they say needs entertainment; and Ray Simasiku Mutwa, Fillemon Shihepo and Jakes Naoxab from PSS Grade 11 and 8, who presented the idea of providing affordable internet access through WiFi hot-spots in rural areas.

With material provided by the SEED initiative that promotes entrepreneurship and sustainable development, the 18 learners in early March 2018 attended the first workshop in Otjiwarongo and covered topics such as developing a business idea, understanding economic concepts and solving customer related problems with solutions that can be standardised. Kirstin Sheehama, founder of the Empower Entrepreneurs Academy conducted the workshops. She said the training was successful. “Learners were very active and willing to learn,” said Sheehama.

Participants explaining their ideas
Participants explaining their ideas© Goethe Institut/Christian Stiebahl

The second workshop, held on April 14 and 15, 2018, empowered the learners with skills on pitching their ideas to a panel of judges that amongst many evaluated their business ideas of sustainability, originality, having a problem solving approach and applying the concept of planning to produce a powerful strategy.

Start-Up! judge Uajo Akwenye of the One Economy Foundation that aims to include all Namibians in the formal economy commended the Goethe-Institut for targeting the youth, who she says is an underserved group in Namibia. “It was evident today that our innovation lies in the youth and giving them the opportunity and a platform to present their ideas and alternative opportunities on finding solutions to social problems. I hope we continue to see more of a level of commitment and innovation from organisations to giving back and reaping social investment returns instead of always thinking of the capital returns,” said Akwenye.

Another judge, Jerome Kisting (Managing Director of Baobab Capital that funds small and medium enterprises) said the fantastic and well-executed presentations says a lot about the learners’ training at the workshops. “I felt the combination of working with the youth and helping them develop their capacity in a series of workshops was really powerful in having us see the potential in these ideas because otherwise they would have remained just ideas. It was interesting to be part of this because I think we are seeing a different perspective of what the youth identify as challenges and opportunities in society,” said Kisting.
Other judges, all also from Namibia, included Marita Walther, Co-Founder of Sun-Cycles - an eco-friendly start-up that specialises in solar powered electric bicycles and solar recharge systems; Edwin Kavihuha, Entrepreneurship and Incubation Officer of the Namibia Business Innovation Institute at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST); and Kirstin Wiedow, Co-Founder and Director of the FABlab Design and Technology Centre that offers new skills training at NUST.

©Goethe-Institut Namibia


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