20 August 2019
In Namibia, 44% of young people are unemployed and there is mounting pressure on Government institutions and departments to provide employment opportunities for them. Over the past few years, Namibia has produced record numbers of skilled graduates from local educational institutions, who then enter a non existent; or full job market.
Morale among youth graduates has reached an all time low, with few employment opportunities despite their holding distinct qualifications spanning various industries. Change is imminent – and the world of work has rapidly evolved, graduates no longer walk into entry- level jobs nor are they guaranteed secure employment after completing their studies. Post- degree time epitomises a new level of uncertainty about prospective employment and career growth. The future is unknown, delayed and fraught with frustration for parents and young people alike who often still have study debt to cover.
Unfortunately, these are the facts, and nothing is guaranteed to any graduate, no matter the field of study or expertise. Joseph Mukendwa, Regional Head of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation (The Foundation) believes that entrepreneurship is important in Namibia. “Entrepreneurship creates opportunities to participate in the economy,” he explains while elaborating on the importance of entrepreneurship in the Namibian context. Mukendwa continues to highlight that it is the most important vehicle in order to address employment creation. As research demonstrates, entrepreneur contributes a large proportion of new jobs through the establishment of their new enterprises; this is by and large the sector generating the largest portion of the total employment year on year, providing a crucial access point for entry-level jobs which allow for training and capacity building of unskilled or inexperienced workers.
In his position as Regional Head looking after Namibia and two of our neighbouring countries; Joseph Mukendwa spearheads the development and implementation of strategy for The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. Together with his dedicated team, he manages the entrepreneurial programmes of the three foundations, the financial and human resources and marketing, as well as engaging stakeholders within the organisations’ vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Mukendwa started in his position on 1 May 2018, and has been more than a year in the role; it has proven to be a year long of learning and understanding the importance of fostering a culture and spirit of entrepreneurship in Namibia. However, Mukendwa is not new to the game of managing such an important and extensive portfolio. Prior to this he spent 13 years at the Namibia Training Authority, where he achieved extensive experience and achieved a proven track record in the successful development and implementation of the National Training Fund and Training Levy; all of this speaks volumes about his successful career path and credible milestones.
He is particularly inspired to work with young people, whose talent and energy inspire him and remind him of the potential of our youth in Namibia. Mukwenda enjoys engaging with stakeholders who operate in the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem and who very often are the leading entrepreneurs in various fields.
The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation provides unique opportunities for young people in Namibia. It was established to develop high-impact responsible entrepreneurs who will create sustainable businesses that will contribute to a reduction in unemployment in the country. “We firmly believe that entrepreneurially minded individuals with ethical value systems and strong leadership skills hold the promise of change and improving the socioeconomic landscape of Namibia,” said Mukendwa, “through the Foundation we offer a unique value proposition to young people, a true game changer”. The Foundation identifies, educates and supports potential entrepreneurs and connects them to the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing them to share and exchange ideas. “The Foundation is uniquely positioned to bolster potential and celebrate the unique skills, drive and talent demonstrated by promising entrepreneurs.”
Namibia has a relatively small population, but the value of entrepreneurship cannot be emphasised enough, as it is through the activities of these engaged small and micro businesses where true socioeconomic value is created, with a knock-on effect in communities and families. The value of entrepreneurs in society is immediately felt—sustaining families, communities and creating more opportunity. “Entrepreneurs are a unique breed of people; they walk to the beat of their own drum, they are passionate problem solvers and long-term visionaries who exist to challenge the status quo; they exist to change the world by creating sustainable enterprises,” added Mukendwa.
Mukendwa holds a Master’s Degree, together with years of experience in the education sector. Walking in his shoes requires the utmost commitment, attention to detail and a strong desire for better results and success. Joseph’s passion for development is one of the key factors that allow him to excel in his job. His ability to work with and inspire youth has been instrumental in his personal and career success.
Often, young people are too discouraged to heed the call of the entrepreneurial vocation. Mukendwa shares that becoming an entrepreneur does not necessarily require one to study any specific fields. Acquiring the right mix of skills is essential for the success of the entrepreneur—these include technical skills, business management skills and personal entrepreneurial skills.
Since 2009 the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation has spent in excess of N$25 million on the implementation of the Foundation’s programmes. To date, a total of 97 students have benefited, 12 have since graduated and are set to embark on their entrepreneurial journey.
Mukendwa calls upon high school youth to take the time to determine where exactly their passion lies. “Conduct research on the fields of study within your area of interest and their requirements (subject choices) and perhaps the point of convergence with future trends. This should inform your career choice. Aim to study and work in an area you love. It is said “if you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”
This year high school learners and first-year students had a unique opportunity to apply for a Fellowship Opportunity at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. Successful candidates will be announced during the course of the year. The programme is open to young Namibians who meet the necessary academic requirements and are studying, or intending to study in the fields of: Commerce, Science, Engineering, Law, Humanities, Health Sciences (excluding medicine, veterinary science and dentistry), at the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg, Rhodes, Nelson Mandela University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of the Free State, University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town or Stellenbosch University. The call for applications is run annually.