Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) Head of Marketing and Corporate Communication, Jerome Mutumba has announced that the winning project in the Bank’s annual Innovation Award will receive N$1 million in funding.
This, he says, is a twofold reflection of the reality of the financial requirement for establishing an enterprise based on innovation as well as the Bank’s serious commitment to innovation.
Talking about the financial requirement, Mutumba says that the Bank is seeking late-stage entrants who have refined their models and done initial planning with a view to launching their projects in the near future. He stresses that the Award recipient will not be in a speculative phase but will require funding for the operational requirements of final studies and investigation to refine feasibility, acquisition of technology and operating capital.
The entry form, available on the DBN website, reflects the nature of the ideal recipient. In addition to a detailed understanding of the innovation, it also requires the recipient to present a business plan, which includes a cash flow forecast and CVs of key individuals involved in the management of the enterprise.
The amount reflects the development return that the Bank expects on its investment, Mutumba says. We want the satisfaction of knowing that the yield to the Award is a highly functional addition to the economy, that does not just reflect blue sky thinking.
The concept of innovation, Mutumba elaborates, has taken root, and there is a stream of innovative ideas emerging in Namibia. Now it is time to up the game, and build the body of experience, knowledge and examples, of how to take the final leap from vision to operation. The 2018 Innovation Award is a significant step on this path.
Mutumba says that experience of the Bank has been that the final leap from plans to operational reality is costly and can be delayed by lack of access to capital. The amount of N$1 million, he explains, will significantly address challenges. He adds that the recipient of the Award may also be granted the ability to draw on the DBN Project Preparation Fund as well as capacity building through the Bank’s Client Support Function.
He goes on to say that entry to the 2018 Innovation Award is also open to enterprises that have already been established.
The closing date for entries is 28 September 2018, and entry forms with guidelines and rules are available at www.dbn.com.na/innovation
Previous winners have included Eenda Nawa, which provides travel insurance subscription by text message, Medi-Rad, a proposal to provide mobile mammography services in rural areas, and Kiyomisandz, a local manufacturer of cosmetics. Namibia Ceramics, the 2017 winner, was a proposal to manufacture ceramic tiles from locally mined clay.
Mutumba encourages entry, saying that all finalists can benefit from entry. Although there will only be one recipient of the Award, the work completed by finalists will be an investment in feasibility of the projects, enhancing their bankability. The Bank may extend invitations to apply for finance, and the plans may be the basis for applications to other sources of finance.
On the topic of DBN’s commitment to innovation, Mutumba says that it is an absolute prerequisite for growth of the economy. The Bank provides finance for a stream of similar projects which represent tested models that are adopted by enterprises of varying sizes. However, if innovation is not introduced into the national economic system, local competitiveness will degrade in the face of competitive elements imported from other countries.
Manufacturing and processing of local resources is of particular interest to the Bank, says Mutumba. This includes agri-processing and associated industries to improve productivity and efficiency in rural areas. The Bank also attaches value to strengthening the efficiency of existing use of resources. He points to the Bank’s ability to finance water saving technology in industrial processes, as well as pioneering finance for renewable energy. The Bank also provides finance for technology that improves efficiency in markets and sectors, and this can extend to finance for innovative services.
In the past the Bank has provided finance for Nampost’s biometic banking system, semi-potable water to alleviate pressure on potable water, Cell One and African Deli which innovated the food manufacturing sector with packaged matangara, a local delicacy.