Small Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development Volunteer

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

Peace Corps Namibia’s Community Economic Development (CED) project promotes small-scale economic development through the reinforcement of entrepreneurial and business management skills in Namibian communities. Current business development service providers are mainly limited to formal businesses in urban centers, neglecting thousands of potential and existing small enterprises across the country. In addition, significant income disparity, high and consistent unemployment, increasing urban movement, and the HIV epidemic contribute to an environment in which CED Volunteers hold great potential to lift the most disadvantaged from extreme economic hardship, or move a nascent business to new profitability, benefiting families and communities.

Despite Namibia’s classification as a ‘lower middle income’ economy, huge disparities still exist. Namibia is ranked as one of the lowest countries in terms of income/asset distribution in the world, and the Government of Namibia cites “high and persistent unemployment,” estimated to be as high as 34 percent of the population, as a “key weakness” in the Namibian economy. Limited job opportunities in the formal and/or government sectors coupled with inadequate skills training necessary for self-employment have contributed to a perpetually high—and even increasing—unemployment rate since 1970. Furthermore, an expanding urban population, driven by youth seeking improved economic opportunities, is expected to rise significantly from 43 percent in 2006 to 75 percent by 2030.. This places an incredible strain on resources and reinforces the importance of creating diversified economic activities and skills development, especially in rural areas.

Volunteer placements vary greatly, from very rural conservancies to urban Chambers of Commerce and municipalities. All CED Volunteers will facilitate and manage a learning environment - some in Vocational Training Center (VTC) classrooms teaching entrepreneurship and basic business skills, some in formal trainings and workshops for businesses, and some through one-on-one mentoring in business incubators, or similar environments. Depending on placement and community needs, Volunteers may work with farmers, youth, women’s groups, town council leaders, and/or business owners.

The CED program has been well received in Namibia; and stakeholders and beneficiaries of Volunteers' work, like Chambers of Commerce, town councils, small NGOs, and community members, have expressed strong interest in the program’s continued success.

Peace Corps Namibia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in your country and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and facilitate empowerment programs designed to ensure that both the girl and boy child learn the new paradigm together. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic, with a National prevalence rate of 33.3% (Sentinel Survey 2016), is exacerbated by and further contributes to poverty in Namibia. In the face of limited opportunity (both perceived and existing), individuals are often obliged to make decisions jeopardizing their health. Additionally, the epidemic is assumed to simultaneously increase expenses (related to medical care) and decrease household income (related to reduced labor capacity). You will have opportunities to play a role in helping to improve the quality of life of individuals living with HIV and AIDS through the establishment of income generation projects and promotion of HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• 5 years professional experience in business management or organizational development
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline

Desired Skills

The most qualified applicants for these positions will have practical experience in one or more of the following areas:
• At least 3 years professional experience in business management or organizational development;
• Small business development and/or development of income generation activities for Non-Profits or community groups;
• At least 2 years of professional experience in at least two of the following:
• Business management;
• Finance;
• Marketing;
• Accounting;
• Organizational development;
• Strategic plan formulation, implementation and monitoring
• Previous experience owning or managing a business is highly desired.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Though English is the official language of Namibia, the country has many different languages from an array of language families (Khoekhoe, Bantu, and Germanic). Most Volunteers encounter a variety of languages in their communities, either different dialects of the same language, or different languages entirely. Throughout Pre-service training, Volunteers will take intensive language classes and live with a local family to facilitate learning the language of their region in preparation for their service. However, self-study after arriving in their community is a must for any Volunteer wishing to be successful. It should come as no surprise that becoming highly proficient in a local language is directly linked to Volunteer success and satisfaction!

We find that those who have prior success in learning another language are able to more quickly pick up local languages in Namibia.

Living Conditions

Namibia's national anthem proclaims it as "beautiful contrasting Namibia," and this could not be more fitting. Namibia's 2 million citizens live in the second least densely populated country in the world. Still, urban centers like the four "O" regions of north central Namibia (population of 1 million), modern coastal cities of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, and the capital Windhoek buck the notion that this desert nation is sleepy. Namibia suffers from one of the world's highest income inequalities, giving CED Volunteers incredible opportunities to make an impact, and placing before them great need.

While CED Volunteers are commonly placed in urban or peri-urban centers, there are several CED Volunteers serving in very remote areas. Volunteer housing differs based on site placement. Some Volunteers live in their own apartments with modern amenities, while others live on their Vocational Training Center grounds in a single room, or a modest house. Most houses have indoor plumbing and electricity. CED Volunteers who serve in remote communities live in traditional housing with no indoor plumbing or electricity. Flexibility and adaptability are desired characteristics for any potential Volunteer.

Namibia's weather and climate vary greatly by season and region. Summers can be very hot, and winter evenings quite cool. Volunteers do a great deal of walking, sometimes several kilometers each day. However, it’s a wonderful opportunity to participate in the daily life of your town - to see your neighbors and (importantly) to be seen by them, or to get to trainings, visit clients, etc.

When traveling outside of site, Volunteers will use public taxis and mini-buses, sometimes for a full day or more, to get to their banking and shopping towns, the capital, or attend local and regional trainings and conferences. Peace Corps will provide you with a monthly living allowance with which you will live at the same level as many of your community members. This allowance will enable you to buy meals, clothing, travel, and will be used for miscellaneous expenses.

Volunteers who are of an American racial/ethnic/national minority, or whose religious/spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of Namibians may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked “where are you actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers turn these encounters into learning experiences, share American values, and deepen community members’ understanding of Americans.

Volunteers would do well to research Namibia’s history in advance of arriving in order to be better prepared to live and work in a ‘post-conflict’ area and the issues that come with its post-apartheid and colonial past. Namibia is an exceedingly diverse country with a complex history that continues to affect the country politically, economically, and socially. Living and working in Namibia means negotiating extreme economic disparity on a regular basis as well as navigating one’s own individual identities – especially around race and ethnicity - and how they may be perceived differently in Namibia because of its past. Volunteers must be aware of this and consider the stress and challenges of such. PC Namibia strives to educate Volunteers through training and dialogue, and is committed to supporting its Volunteers and staff around these complexities.

While Namibia is generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address these topics during PST, and identify support mechanisms for incoming Trainees.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Namibia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Namibia accepts couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position in Namibia:

- Community Health and HIV/AIDS Programs (CHHAP) Volunteer

Couples with one Volunteer in the Health sector and the other in the Community Economic Development sector will possibly live with different host families during Pre-Service Training (PST). If this is the case, Peace Corps staff will ensure the opportunity to visit with each other periodically. Couples should be prepared to spend much of their PST time apart.

Though conditions of housing and site will vary, couples will live together during service.

Medical Considerations in Namibia

Namibia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.

  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified. 
  • After arrival in Namibia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations. 

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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