About 600 young people in the Omaheke, Khomas and the Kavango East regions have been empowered and mentored through a skills training programme called Upshift.
This was revealed at the programme’s awards ceremony when about 20 young people pitched their final innovative business ideas at the Rundu Vocational Training Centre (RVTC) last weekend.
The programme was implemented by the Ministry of Youth, Sport, and National Service, and was funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
It aims to support young people to contribute to a competitive labour force, sustained economic growth, improved governance, and vibrant civil societies.
Six out of 20 Upshifters walked away with cash prizes after their innovative ideas were selected as the best among the group.
Albertina Muremi, whose business idea was to create an agency for nannies, cleaners and caregivers, won the first prize.
She walked away with a cheque of N$18 000 to help her start her business.
In second place were Aggy Batoboha and Salom Musole, whose business idea was a care service targeting pregnant mothers.
The pair walked away with a cheque of N$13 000 to turn their idea into a reality.
Williams Sitwala’s homemade jam using tomatoes took third place, scoring iN$8 000, while Kristophine Katjire’s idea of producing affordable dishwashing liquid won fourth place, collecting N$6 000.
Ashanti Mubita’s poultry farming concept using organic chicken feed took fifth place.
She received N$5 000.
Unicef representative Aune Victor vigorously encouraged the participants for their resilience and dedication.
“Over the past 10 months, our youth have shown commendable resilience and determination in developing innovative solutions to mitigate some of the biggest challenges facing our communities, in this case the Kavango East community,” she said.
“We are about to witness great innovations aimed at effecting social change, and also to make your communities a better place and enhance the quality of life of yourselves and as well as that your communities through your innovations” said Victor.
She commended the youth ministry for its dedication to improving the status of the young people in Namibia, as well as the consistent involvement of deputy minister of sport, youth and national service Emma Kantema since 2021.
The Upshift programme was first rolled out in Windhoek, before it moved to the Omaheke amd Kavango East regions.
“I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to join the programme, which was the best decision I have made in my life. Before the programme, I always told my friends to inform me if they hear of opportunities such as Upshift, because I have always wanted to be a businesswoman but I didn’t know how to start,” Muremi says.
She says the programme has taught her the importance of coming up with a concept that can solve a problem in a community.
With the prize money, Muremi says she will register her business and try to grow it.
“As a government, we recognise what role our partners play in terms of establishing our development objectives.
“When it comes to youth development, we work with different partners and all progressive forces who wish to contribute to national development,” the director of youth development in the ministry, Nicolars Tembwe, said.
He thanked Unicef for its continuous financial and technical support of the programme.