The graduates completed a series of free short courses in Events Planning, Social Innovation, Social Media, Entrepreneurship, Project Management and Photography.
The initiative strictly targets unemployed youths with the aim to address the challenges they face. The government of Finland supports the Namibian government in creating new opportunities for young people and encouraging entrepreneurship, through funding programmes such as RLabs.
Her Excellency, Ambassador Pirkko-Liisa Kyöstilä said: “Namibia’s Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), identifies youth empowerment as one of its targets. In 2014, the youth unemployment rate was at 39% and according to recent reports, it has increased to 43.4%. The NDP5 target is to decrease this to 33% by 2022. Therefore, the RLabs project capacitates underprivileged young people to benefit from economic opportunities.” Kyöstilä added that she was pleased that 70% of the graduates are female, saying this symbolises progress in terms of achieving gender equality.
The free courses are aimed at individuals between 18-35 years, who are eager to acquire new skills. Emilia Shikwamhanda, the RLabs Country Coordinator, highlighted that more than 1 000 young people have graduated at RLabs Namibia since its inception in 2012. Furthermore, under the same programme, the first crowdfunding platform in Namibia, known as Namstarter was launched. It is a platform where business ideas are shared with the purpose of raising small amounts of money from a large number of people.
The Sanlam Innovation Works Competition is public platform that offer start-up funding for projects at early-stage development that address key issues in innovation. The competition which is currently in its fourth cycle is a joint project between Sanlam Namibia and the Namibia Business Innovation Institute.