Katutura's chef d' affaires
by Demilzar C. Gumbo
A former Woermann Brock employee is now running a successful catering business in Katutura at Soweto market.Johnson Uamunika resigned from his job in the late 90s after buying an ice cream making machine with money he had saved but today he says his catering business, All Nation Rest, is worth N$60 000. “I started off with an ice-cream machine in 1999 here in Katutura. I took a big step by quitting my job from Woermann Brock since the salary was peanuts. I didn’t want a life of poverty for my family and children,” he says.When he started, he explains, ice cream cost between 50 cents and N$2, “I had to advertise on bill boards and posters because people were not aware since it was shielded in one room.
“Marketing ice cream was a good strategy. Children and adults would come every day and buy ice-cream from my shop. Business was very good. Little did I know this was just a beginning for me,” he says. Uamunika has since relocated the machine to Herero Mall to clear space for the catering business.Although the machine is still functioning, he says, ice cream prices have gone down. In between this as well he was a tour guide in the city of Windhoek.“I decided to transform the ice cream machine room into a cooking area,” he further explains adding that he had to make room for customers who used to sit outside.
Uamunika says when he officially opened the restaurant in 2002, he had one employee but now there are three. “It was difficult in the early days because I had a few customers. I wasn’t making any profits. I didn’t want to be bankrupt so I sought new ideas to keep my business flowing. I then started packing food and selling it at Herero Mall but competition became stiff and I stopped,” says Uamunika. Uamunika is a chef in his own right. He trained in hospitality at Witwatersrand Business School. Today he gets pleasure from training young people to cook. He says he bought two cars and a house from the money he earned from the catering business. “People should stay focused and open minded to ideas if they want to succeed in life. Nothing comes easy in life and as a man, I am very proud of myself because if put into such a position of cooking some men believe it’s a woman’s job,” he says.
The food is unique and very affordable with prices ranging from N$10 to N$25. Most of his customers are travellers who use the Soweto market bus terminus.