By Victor Angula |

One small entrepreneur based in Oshakati expressed a view that entrepreneurs at her level feel left out of the formal bargaining power of businesses in the country due to the fact that they are not part of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI).

Ms Laina Shilongo, owner of Takatsu Trading Enterprises, said that in order to become a member of NCCI one has to pay an annual fee of N$578, and this amount is too much for them to afford.

“It’s so much discouraging to pay that money because we hardly make enough in our businesses,” Shilongo said. “A lot of us are small, if they could have made it N$350 at least, it would have been better for us.”

Shilongo, who is an employer of two people, also stated that most of them small entrepreneurs are skeptical of the benefits they could get out of being a member of NCCI.

“When you join them you are a newcomer and one who is small for that matter, nobody knows you and so it will take you years or at least a year to be known and gain the confidence of other members, yet you are asked to pay a membership of so much money.

“You also feel intimidated. Those colleagues speak about business activities involving a lot of money, and they discuss big ideas, so that as a small entrepreneur who is still crouching you feel you don’t belong there,” Shilongo stated.

“I have a friend who is a member of NCCI and she says she has no motivation to renew her annual membership because she has not seen any benefits.”

According to Shilongo it would be best if NCCI is divided into two: one for big and medium enterprises and then another for the small businesses. “At least in our own group we the small business people will feel that our interests are always the topic for discussion.”

When contacted for comment NCCI’s chief executive officer Ms Charity Mwiya said that reducing the membership fees for micro-enterprises (very small businesses) cannot be considered.

“This N$578 per year, for you to get information and for you to be sent whatever, is still too much? You want an organization to be run… we are not a charity organization. How do you say N$578 is too much? You are a business person? If you look at other sectors, like the construction industry membership for the small businesses is N$5000,” Mwiya said.

Mwiya stated that the organization needs money to be run, so that in fact there is need for the fees to be increased. “At the last Annual General Meeting the fees were not increased due to the current situation of Covid-19,” she said.

In the photo: Ms Laina Shilongo of Takatsu Trading Enterprises cc.