The NACSO Community Enterprise Support Project
What is CESP?
CESP is a four year project which is co-funded by the European Community (EC) and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), and implemented by the NACSO - CESP team in conjunction with other Namibian Non Government Organisations (NGOs). Work on the project started in April 2007 and the project will run officially until March 2011. The total funding is just over €1 million; 73% of this is provided by the EC with the balance coming from VSO. VSO is a UK based international charity specialising in rural and social development projects, and is currently operating in 73 countries throughout the world with over 4,000 volunteers.
CESP is currently (July 2010) staffed by a Project Coordinator, 3 international volunteers and 3 local enterprise support assistants, while the recruitment is underway for 4 additional volunteers and 2 enterprise support assistants. Officially it covers all regions of Namibia, except for the Khomas region. However, because of limited resources, the project concentrates its activities on:
The overall objective of the project is to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged rural populations in the communal areas of Namibia. This is achieved by supporting, developing, and improving the capacity for effective enterprise development in Conservancies, organised community groups (OCGs) and Namibian partner organisations.
Following a turnaround strategy workshop in the beginning of 2010, CESP is concentrating on:
A small amount of effort also goes into supporting Joint Venture tourism enterprises in the conservancies. In-service training to partner organisations and the internal management and reporting complete the activities.
Training includes business, management and financial skills to help enable conservancies and OCGs to manage their finances and administration and also institutional skills so that good governance and transparency of operations are developed.
Supporting small tourism related enterprises covers many activities, but could include the setting up of campsites, tour guiding, information centres or the production of craft products. Help can be provided in developing and refining business plans to ensure that projects are adequately funded and those involved have the skills to maximise the chances of success.
Joint venture partnerships between investors and conservancies are now the norm for tourism lodges and similar developments, so facilitation may require coaching a conservancy committee in making reasonable financial demands, whilst ensuring the investment is still attractive. Similarly, investors should offer real benefits in terms of lease fees and employment to the conservancy.
Marketing of tourism related businesses and craft products is essential for the sustainability of businesses and needs specific attention.
The Enterprise Support Fund has been set up with Project funding to provide easily accessible seed funding to get rural development products off the ground or add extra value to existing ones. Typically, sums disbursed are between N$5,000 and N$10,000 and are used to cover the purchase of small capital items or materials. Funding is a grant and not a loan, the application process is easy with the minimum of paperwork. The partner organisations play a central role in identifying, supporting and monitoring ESF supported projects.
Results and outputs
As the project document and plan were formulated more than 2 years before the project started, neither the results nor outputs are rigid. It is expected that some might not be achieved while others will be exceeded.
Community campsites in the Kunene North, Erongo, Hardap and Karas Region received training on management, finances and tourism related issues and will continue to receive training during the remaining period of the project. A leaflet on ‘The Kunene Camping Trail’ was developed for the Kunene Region and a similar one will be produced for the South of the country.
Conservancies were assisted in joint venture negotiations in the Kunene and North Central Regions.
The quality of the San craft in the Nyae Nyae conservancy improved and this will translate into higher household incomes. In addition, the Tsumkwe craft shop is functioning in a more professional way. The new cooperation with the Omba Arts Trust is expected to result in higher incomes for a variety of communities.
Through the Enterprise Support Fund, a variety of projects were supported to generate income and deliver better services. Beneficiaries were among others Baraka Beads in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, Vicky’s Coffee Shop and the Ugab River Campsite in Tsiseb Conservancy, the Kunene Campsites through the leaflet and a stand at the Windhoek Tourism Expo, a bakery and a leather project in Amper Bo in the Karas Region. The ESF will continue to support a variety of projects during the CESP lifespan.
While working alongside local colleagues and enterprise support assistants, the volunteer workers increased the capacity of staff of partner organisations to work on business related issues.
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