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Entrepreneurial empowerment through skills training: impact on business skills and income-generating activities in Namibia

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Empowerment can be characterized as the acquisition of knowledge, abilities, and self-assurance that enable individuals to take charge of their lives and make well-informed decisions (Busara, 2016). This article delves into the influence of skills development training on the empowerment of beneficiaries engaged in Income-Generating Activities (IGAs) with a particular emphasis on improving business acumen. The research examines how tailored training programs can endow individuals with the requisite skills and knowledge to thrive in the business sector. Data was amassed from 20 beneficiaries hailing from the Ohangwena region of Namibia, specifically those who received IGA grants between 2014-2017, through interviews and focus group discussions. The responses from the beneficiaries were classified into motivation, financial management, customer satisfaction, and self-reliance and scrutinized using Atilas.ti data analysis software. By zeroing in on the empowerment of beneficiaries via skills development, this article illuminates the transformative potential of training programs in cultivating entrepreneurship and economic expansion.

The global perception of empowerment is increasingly acknowledged as vital for personal and societal advancement. Skills training programs play a crucial role in empowering individuals by providing them with essential tools for setting up their own businesses. Recent studies, like Voegtlin, Boehm, and Bruch, (2015), demonstrate that training interventions can enhance collective empowerment perceptions in work environments, showing a positive link between training participation and increased empowerment levels. These findings emphasize the significance of skills training in empowering individuals globally, with a growing number benefiting from such programs to boost their confidence, independence, and overall empowerment. Data coded under the objective of training empowerment were categorized into four (4) themes as shown below:

1. Motivation

Motivating beneficiaries during training can empower them to take ownership of their learning and achieve their goals, this serves as a potent strategy to improve their skills and propel personal growth. Motivation serves as a catalyst for individuals to engage actively in training programs, stay committed to learning, and strive for continuous improvement. By fostering a motivational environment, trainers can inspire beneficiaries to set ambitious goals, overcome challenges, and unleash their full potential. Motivated beneficiaries are more likely to embrace new skills, take on challenges with confidence, and persist in their learning journey, ultimately leading to increased empowerment and success in both personal and professional endeavours (Bradberry, 2019).

Yes, the training was a success because I developed a high motivation of continuing with my career in beads making. (IGAb1)

Two more IGA beneficiaries (IGAb3 and IGAb9) confirmed by saying:

Yes, because I am now more motivated to concentrate on my business, unlike when I started and things started going down, I thought of quitting. Being able to grow my business building on the motivation I received. (IGAb3)
I acquired new skills and motivation that improved my production, increased my self-esteem and I learned how to seek for assistance whenever my business is struggling. I have learned how [to] control my anger which sometimes leads to depression and in most cases, this may cause maltreating of customers and poor customer services. (IGAb9)

2. Financial Management

It is crucial for the overall success and independence of training beneficiaries to empower them through financial management skills. By providing individuals with the knowledge and tools to effectively manage their finances, training programs can empower beneficiaries to make informed decisions, plan for the future, and achieve financial stability. Understanding concepts such as budgeting, saving, and investment enables beneficiaries to take control of their financial well-being, reduce financial stress, and work towards their financial goals. Empowering individuals through training in financial management not only enhances their economic empowerment but also instils a sense of confidence and control over their financial futures, leading to greater overall empowerment and resilience.

The training really helped me, especially with finance management because I managed to separate my business account from my personal account.’ (IGAb7)
The training intervention imparted beneficiaries with skills and abilities to successfully manage their finances. IGAb5
I am in the position to manage my financial resources to a significant degree. The community has gained self-reliance now that they can meet their own demands. (IGAb2)

3. Producing quality products and customer satisfaction

Customers happy about products, they are satisfied and there is now high demand on buying products. (IGAb1)

It also emerged from the findings that producing quality products and customer satisfaction in is regarded as an important factor in raising customers trust and satisfactory. Beneficiaries indicated that customers who are supplied with high quality products and services are always happy and willing to call back for more products and services. Consequences associated with poor quality products may range from poor customer retention. When customers are not happy with the quality of the products or services received, they will not buy your products again, neither will they refer customers.

Individually the training benefited me a lot especially how to treat my customers. (IGAb7)
More customers are coming to our products and praising us for the job well done in our business. (IGAb2)
Clients are happy with our products and business are doing well. (IGAb5)
I am now able to produce enough products of which my customers are happy with and very satisfied. (IGAb10)

4. Self-reliance

While beneficiaries highlighted the aforementioned aspects of empowerment, some lights were also shed on the aspect of self-reliance. Beneficiaries indicated that they were richly equipped with abilities to fully rely on themselves by utilising their own resources, and power without depending on another person around them:

Community gained self-reliance, now we can meet our own demands without outsiders’ assistance. (IGAb1)
I am in the position to manage my finance resources at quite significant degree, I can do my bookkeeping confidently. (IGAb2)
I gained a lot of business skills that I never had and I am able to apply them to the best of my abilities for the benefit of my business and personal growth. (IGAb4)
I know how to manage by business well. My sales are increasing and my costs have reduced. (IGAb7)

The quotes highlight the crucial role of business empowerment in business growth and personal development, emphasizing its importance as a key element of business training skills acquired through the program. Participants were motivated and gained knowledge about quality products leading to high turnout, how to manage finances independently and how to reduce reliance on external sources. This underscores the significance of skills training in sustaining businesses, with beneficiaries showing no dissatisfaction with the empowerment aspect of the training program.

Empowering beneficiaries through skills development training is a key strategy for promoting economic empowerment and fostering entrepreneurship. This article examines the role of skills development training in enhancing business skills among beneficiaries, highlighting the importance of equipping individuals with the tools they need to thrive in the competitive business environment. By focusing on the empowerment of beneficiaries through targeted training programs, this study aims to contribute to the understanding of how skill development can drive economic growth and create opportunities for sustainable development.

Skills development training plays a crucial role in enhancing business skills among beneficiaries. By providing individuals with the opportunity to acquire new skills, such as financial management, marketing, and strategic planning. Training programs can empower beneficiaries to start and grow their businesses successfully (Smith & Johnson, 2022). Through targeted training initiatives, individuals can develop the expertise and confidence needed to navigate the complexities of the business world, make informed decisions, and seize opportunities for growth and innovation. Empowering beneficiaries through skills development training is essential for promoting sustainable development and economic empowerment Anderson, (2023).

Conclusion

Empowering beneficiaries through skills development training is a powerful strategy for enhancing business skills, promoting entrepreneurship, and driving economic growth. This article underscores the transformative potential of targeted training initiatives in equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the business world. By focusing on the empowerment of beneficiaries through skill development, stakeholders can create opportunities for sustainable development, economic empowerment, and inclusive growth.

In forthcoming research endeavours, our intention is to delve into the perspectives of IGA beneficiaries regarding their comprehension of the expertise of master trainers in delivering high-quality training.

References

Anderson, K. (2023). The Influence of Entrepreneurial Skill Development on Female High School Students' Academic and Career Intentions, [Doctoral dissertation, Concordia University Chicago]. Busara, G. C. (2016). Impact of employees’ empowerment on organization performance: A case study of government procurement service agency. [Doctoral dissertation, The Open University of Tanzania].

Bradberry, L.A., & De Maio, J. (2019). Learning by doing: The long-term impact of experiential learning programs on student success. Journal of Political Science Education, 15(1), 94-111.

Brown, L., & White, S. (2023). Empowering Entrepreneurs: A Case Study on Skills Development Programs. Entrepreneurship Quarterly, 15(4), 112-125.

Smith, J., & Johnson, A. (2022). The Impact of Skills Development Training on Business Success. Journal of Business Development, 10(2), 45-60.

Voegtlin, C., Boehm, S. A., & Bruch, H. (2015). How to empower employees: using training to enhance work units’ collective empowerment. International Journal of Manpower, 36(3), 354-373.

Elizabeth Ndelitungapo Shafohamba is a holder of an Honours Degree in Adult Education and also Masters in Education (Adult Education) candidate in the Department of Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, School of Education, Faculty of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Namibia. She is passionate about training, especially in community, public and private sectors and organisations. Email: enshafohamba@gmail.com

Dr Sadrag Panduleni Shihomeka is a media and communication practitioner, specialised in social media and youth politics in the Global South. As a researcher, he presented, and published in digital human rights, gender studies, as well as conferences, projects and seminars associated with e-Mourning and Post-death Digital Presence, online violence, e-ethics, digital leadership, and marginalisation of women online areas. Dr Shihomeka serves an external moderator and theses examiner for Journalism and Media Technology at the Namibia University of Science and Technology amongst others. In 2021, Dr Shihomeka was a Research Sprint fellow on African Digital Sovereignty at The South African Research Chair in Industrial Development, University of Johannesburg in collaboration with the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin, Germany. He holds a PhD in Media and Communication from Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands, MBA, and a B. Ed (Secondary). Currently he is the Head of the Department for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning and a Senior Lecturer for Educational Media and Technologies at the University of Namibia. As an ICT4D researcher, Dr Shihomeka, collaborated with several NGOs, universities, and institutions to promote digital literacy, workplace learning and development, digital romance, e-democracy, e-addiction, e-deception and cyberbullying to empower citizens with digital skills. Email: sshihomeka@yahoo.com (Orcid: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-98...)

Organisation University of Namibia

Author Elizabeth Ndelitungapo Shafohamba and Dr Sadrag Panduleni Shihomeka

Publication Date 3 juin 2024

Topic Women's empowerment Skills training

Region Southern Africa

Country Namibia

Sector Academia

Type Thesis