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Germany, Namibia collaborates to empower women in Agriculture

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GIZ, the German development and cooperation agency, launched an agribusiness Bootcamp in September in collaboration with StartUp Namibia, intending to benefit Namibian women in agriculture.

The program’s goal was to prepare all applicants for careers in business and agriculture.

According to Geoffroy Berson, one of the program’s organizers, training took place from September 27 to October 8.

According to Berson, all participants had the opportunity to present their final pitches last week and graduated on Thursday.

He says StartUp Namibia believes digital technology and entrepreneurship have the potential to help solve problems faced by the agriculture sector by creating new markets, designing new services for farmers, improving yields, and increasing income.

The organisation partnered with Women in Agriculture Namibia (Wian) due to its expertise in the agriculture industry, he says.

They aim to enable participants through training in business skills, digital competency, and urban farming methods, and to identify start-ups to support in the longer term.

Training sessions took place in Windhoek at StartUp Namibia’s Digital Transformation Centre in the capital’s northern industrial area, and at Bokamoso Entrepreneurial Centre at Katutura.

This was the first edition of the programme, which partially focused on urban agriculture.

Further editions would follow countrywide.

Berson says hundreds of individuals and businesses applied, which shows there is a demand for upskilling in entrepreneurship and digital technology.

He says the organisers had to select 10% of the most promising applications, and 12 entrepreneurs eventually graduated.

The programme was designed by StartUp Namibia and Wian, and all training was provided by the experts in the two organisations.

Many participants stood a chance to walk away with great prizes for further support from Wian, the City of Windhoek, and GIZ.

The City of Windhoek offered participants the opportunity to further discuss their project ideas, and to visit Okukuna Farm.

GIZ offered to support the participants with additional training on agricultural techniques and drip irrigation, while Wian offered the participants mentorship on hydroponics.

StartUp Namibia offered Linda McLeod, one of the participants, a free ticket to the agritech incubation programme set to start in mid-November, as well as N$10 000 to start implementing her business idea.

Wian’s founder, Helvi Shindume, encouraged the participants to be “people who bring things to life”.

The programme required a small participation fee, but most of the financing came from GIZ StartUp Namibia to support entrepreneurship and innovation across the country.