Crossing fences

Amid growing competition from South African retailers and producers proliferating the Namibian market and the latest arrival of Wal-Mart, Team Namibia is still to find its footing in convincing locals to buy Namibian products.

Established about nine years ago to create visibility of locally produced products and services in the Namibian market and encourage locals to identify with the ‘local is lekker’ brand, Team Namibia is ready to make an impact.

Team Namibia would like to embark on a campaign that would enable Namibians to create their own economically sustainable future and educate consumers the benefits of supporting Namibian products and services. This would lead to a positive effect on economic sustainability in Namibia, including job-creation, improvement of skills while stimulating investment.

Amid the challenges, the organisation has appointed Lizette Foot as its general manager, to steer the ship to its targeted destination as well as to give the organisation a new face that is locally visible.

This month, Prime Focus caught up with Foot to get an understanding of the way forward for the organisation. She admits that although the future ahead looks bright, it will not be a rosy ride for her and the team.

“We need a 100% commitment from Namibians to support Namibian products, services and destinations to make an impact on this nation. We need to bring back the passion to what is ours. We want to encourage consumers to support Team Namibia members and members to support fellow members’ businesses; this way, we could become more sustainable,” she says.

Foot’s first move will be to re-brand the Team Namibia product and give it an attractive face that consumers in Namibia could identify with and fall in love with instantly.

While admitting that the country has what it takes to improve its product visibility on the local market, she reveals that the major setback remains the country’s under-capitalised industry, which produces a mere 14.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), making it herculean to compete with imported goods for market space.

“According to Vision 2030, as approved by the Namibian government, the Namibian manufacturing sector must attain growth of approximately 10% per annum to reach the goals of the Vision.

She notes that the country should push the “Be Namibian, Buy Namibian” agenda going forward and make it a living norm for the country’s citizens if any hope of living the ‘buy Namibia’ dream is to be achieved.

“Team Namibia is playing its part in making Vision 2030 a reality through its mandate to grow the country’s economy by developing a sustainable manufacturing, industrial and business sector and garnering support for local products, “she explained.

She stresses the dire need for a strong coherent brand that is communicated consistently in the marketplace, adding that strong leaders in Government, the private sector and NGO sectors, need to become co-operative in ‘supporting local’ to ensure sustainability in our country.

The 34-year-old holder of a degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of Stellenbosch who has worked in the United Kingdom and South Africa brings along a wealth of experience, which might prove vital in re-invigorating Team Namibia.

Foot emphasises that Team Namibia has to have a strong brand and operate within brand guidelines. She encourages Namibians to always be able to spot the Team Namibia logo and be aware of the impact that buying local products has on all aspects of sustainability.

A very memorable moment in her career was when she arrived back home in Namibia after many years abroad and became part of effecting change in the country through Team Namibia.

“Personally, I am excited to be back in Namibia and to give something back to my homeland. It feels like the right time and the right place. It is a great privilege to be able to be part of the sustainability drive that is taking place in our country,” she says.

Even though it is regrettable that some small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have pulled out in recent years, Foot acknowledges the joining of 15 new members since the beginning of the year and the appointment of strong representatives on the Team Namibia Board. PF