We hear a lot about unemployed university graduates in Namibia, however artisans equally affected, remain invisible and therefore ignored by the Government, by the media, even by consumers of their daily products. Outside the safety net of regular salaries or social security, they are helpless.
The unemployed artisans of Namibian have joined hands together in forming up a Telegram group that aims to tackle the issue of unemployment faced by artisans in the country. While “artisanal” has become an easy way to both attract millennials and tease their preferences, the shift towards reviving artisan supply chains is much more than a fleeting trend.
The 2020 Statistics by the Association of Unemployed artisans of Namibia show that Namibia has about 840 unemployed artisans, this is terrifying, especially that most of these trades are funded by NFAF and the graduates need to get jobs or business opportunities to enable them to pay back their study loans. In 2019, award-winning artist Lazarus Shiimi known by his stage name ‘Gazza’ paved ways for about 14 artisans to work in a car assembling plant in Dubai, thanks to him for this initiative.
Biashara newspaper talks to Elifas Uushona, who is currently on top of the Agenda for the said Association, as he explains that the aim of this Association is to mobilize opportunities for diesel mechanics, welders, fitting and turning and graduates from other vocational trades who are currently unemployed.
“We want to be incorporated in the existing government garages and become part and parcel of fixing government vehicles, trucks and tractors countrywide. This is already in the pipeline and discussions are ongoing with the stakeholders. Our expertise can also be used to renovate, weld and do any other projects that may require our knowledge” Uushona said.
He added that artisans are the backbones of this country’s economy as there is a demand for more hands-on skills in the job market, however, they are not recognized, with most of them sitting at home doing nothing. “Though it’s difficult to quantify the tremendous value artisans hold in both techniques and lore of this country’s production sector, we do know that once this skill that we acquired in school and through job attachments is lost it becomes very difficult to recover” Uushona added.
Despite the growing influence and impact of the artisan sector, access to capital remains one of the main barriers facing creative entrepreneurs. There are however many ways to help bridge this gap, like incorporating artisan in a certain ministry or acquiring loans from the development bank of Namibia.
By bringing together local artisans and partners like the Association of Unemployed Artisans, Uushona believes that this will give a voice to those common challenges and build innovative solutions that draw from those diverse viewpoints. Join their group on Telegram: #Unemployed Artisans Matter2021# https://t.me/joinchat/FEPPNN4iNfoHu764