The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with the Financial Literacy Initiative (FLI), Kongalend Financial Services and the Society of Family Health (SFH), has embarked on a mentorship programme and financial literacy training camp in the northern regions under the theme, ‘Empower Well’.
The mentorship programme targets women and youths of reproductive age in rural areas, as well as vulnerable and marginalised communities in Namibia. It encompasses sexual reproductive health services and rights, gender-based violence services and response, and crucially, access to financial services.
The programme and training camp kicked off at Omutsegwonime village at Omuthiya on 6 November and proceeded to the Omulonga constituency in the Ohangwena region until Saturday, where it attracted up to 80 participants.
UNFPA programme analyst Emma Mbekele says the objective of the mentorship programme and financial literacy training is to increase economic growth and development, narrow gender disparities and reduce poverty by creating empowerment opportunities.
“The project intends to create an investment facility that strengthens domestic, international and development finance resource mobilisation and leverages innovative finance towards the attainment of UNFPA transformative results,” says Mbekele.
She added that this is achieved by ultimately reducing government spending and diversifying the funding landscape of health, education and gender-related expenditures, as recognised by the Namibia Development Finance Assessment of 2019.
Okaonde village community member Claudia Nghishidimbwa says the provisions of the mobile clinic for their village were a great opportunity for the community, as many people have benefited from the health services provided by UNFPA and partners.
“Most people have been sick in their homestead and the distance to nearby health facilities discourages most community members from seeking health services,” says Nghishidimbwa.
During a one-week programme, a high demand was experienced in the uptake of modern family planning (implants) and HIV-AIDS services, increasing the demand for financial services and new subscribers.
Those who attended were able to enhance their financial literacy, access health services and were motivated to venture into business for income generation and to improve their livelihoods.
Tuhafeni Shiningwali (20), who makes and sells pizzas at Omutsegwonime village, received financial literacy training, which she says provides her with hope to grow her business.
Young mother and tuck shop owner, Indileni Erasmus (31), credits the mentorship programme and literacy training for giving her valuable account management skills that will help her save money and grow her business.
“I have learned how to save money, which will help me expand my merchandise and grow my business,” says Erasmus.
UNFPA Namibia strategic investment coordinator Sofia Nambahu says gender-based investment coupled with business or financial education and comprehensive health services creates financial autonomy, which serves as a shield, offering avenues for recourse and independence.
“It becomes a crucial tool in navigating and ultimately eradicating such societal scourges,” says Nambahu, adding that the impact of such empowerment goes beyond individuals and resonates within communities, fostering resilience and driving sustainable development.
Ndilimeke Taapopi, chairperson of the Mekololo Letu community project at Onailonga village, says she was grateful for the financial literacy training which has taught her to better handle the funds generated from her business for investment and expansion.
The programme will continue on Wednesday at Ompunda village in the Oshana region.
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