The “Small Business Talk” had a walk with many entrepreneurs in the country trying to improve their life through entrepreneurship, alleviating poverty and creating jobs.
This year, there was a mushrooming of younger entrepreneurs as well as women.
The Villager came across diverse types of small businesses ranging from sectors such as construction, fashion designing, artists, information technology, design of original furniture, interior decoration just to name but a few.
All the entrepreneurs stood out in their innovative thinking, perseverance and determination of making it on the top of the game. One can safely say that Namibians are gradually trying to move away from the mind of always waiting on the government to help.
Collateral for a sound loan and finances to strengthen their businesses is still an issue for many entrepreneurs, but it does not stop them from achieving their dreams.
Some of the entrepreneurs who stood out are Kennedy Shindondi, who realised the gap in the local food industry. By founding Brain Child Technology, Shindondi had the mission to spearhead the commercialisation of locally found native food products by connecting farmers to supermarkets. His vision is of introducing dry and city farming.
This kind of initiative is vital to the development of the economy as agriculture as fast becoming the country’s economic mainstay.
We also came across a courageous Katutura entrepreneur Mary Shikukutu, owner of the NT Oshini Mahangu Suppliers CC, who went against the odds; start a milling business which for four year struggled to find its feat and it needed a biblical Saul-Jesus encounter to see the light of her business.
Today the business employs more than five women in Katutura and she has been able to expand her services.
Dorkambo co-operative, is a weaving business based in Ondangwa led by a former arts teacher Samuel Sheyanena, who has brought the community together into weaving.
The business which was started in the ‘60s by Volker Berner, was given to nine serving employees, 40 years later as a sign of empowering them. Sheyanena has taken it to another level, expanding it from not only focusing on weaving to embroidery and sewing of suits. Their products are sold in Europe and now employees over 30 people, from the nine people who were there 40 years ago.
There were also other SMEs that operated with an added philanthropic idea where they used some of their proceeds for charity. The Erundu project, run by Hilja Ipumbu used its profit from the sewing business for orphans.
This year was proof of the increase of business minded Namibians ready to empower the economy.
Thankfully, the SME Bank was opened with the aim of increasing access to loans by aspiring entrepreneurs who lack collateral to secure loans.
The Villager’s Best Entrepreneur of the year 2012 is Kennedy Shindondi for venturing into developing the local agriculture.
Namibia is a net food importer; hence inventions like his at a time when labour unrest in South Africa put Namibia in a corner are noble.