SADC workshop opens the eyes of participants – News

SADC workshop opens the eyes of participants – News

Participants at the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Fund workshop in Windhoek described it as a beneficial eye-opener.

Dumisani Siwinda, a Malawian engineer working in the solar-powered irrigation system industry, says he has learned a lot about managing people as a leader, advertising and branding.

“I haven’t been good in those areas and I hope to improve to improve my business,” says Siwinda, whose company employs 32 people permanently and about 70 on contract.

He says renewable energy is the future in the SADC region and, as an incentive for entrepreneurs, the Malawi government has waived charging value-added tax or import duties for solar energy components.

South African Nomfundo Nxazonke says the workshop was informative as she learned how to take her business, Port Elizabeth-based Wakile Energy, to the next level. Her company is dedicated to installing solar and wind energy systems and employs eight people.

Nxazonke says the main takeaways from the workshop are the importance of branding and marketing and the workshop highlighted the importance of understanding the target market.

Moira Kruse from Taatisolar Namibia says the workshop was interesting and worthwhile.

“The training was of a high standard and the information disseminated was top-notch,” he says, adding that networking with SADC peers was eye-opening and informative.

Kruse operates off-grid solar lighting systems, stand-alone solar home systems from 1 to 3 kilowatts, as well as solar cooling systems and employs eight people, including herself.

“In addition to networking, the workshop strengthened our leadership skills,” he says, adding that the Solar Revolving Fund administered by the Ministry of Mines and Energy has been a great help to his company.

The workshop, organized by the International Renewable Energy Agency and the SADC Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, is hosted by the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

A total of 11 entrepreneurs from different SADC countries participated in the workshop that took place from May 20 to 23.

Wency Ndjitaviua, spokesperson for the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School, says participants would also visit a solar panel installation in Otjomuise.

According to the program coordinator, Helena Shipanga, the workshop is a platform for technical support and mentoring to improve and strengthen the capacity of micro, small and medium entrepreneurs to evaluate the business potential of sustainable energy, develop viable business plans and applications financing, and manage and maintain their businesses successfully.

“Entrepreneurs are trained in areas of solar energy, biogas, engineering and other spheres and are here to gain more skills in digital marketing, online presence and learn about the strategic development of their businesses and improve their leadership skills,” says Shipanga .

Ndjitaviua says the aim of the masterclass is to improve soft skills including communication, leadership, decision making and problem solving to improve competitiveness and business practices of participants coming from Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Shipanga says the next session will focus on how to pitch ideas to investors as entrepreneurs face challenges accessing finance.

The SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Fund is being implemented in all 16 SADC member countries. – email: [email protected]

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