In an effort to elevate herself and her family to a better financial status, Magdalena Ambata started a sewing business called Etameko Tailor.
Based in Green Well Matongo in Sasha Street, Katutura, Etameko Tailor has been offering sewing services and designing garments either in modern, casual or traditional styles. It also designs and makes graduation and wedding gowns, as well as school uniforms. Etameko Tailor also runs its own sewing school.
Established in 2000 when Ambata’s brother gave her a sewing machine and a relative gave her N$50 in cash, the business took off. Ambata says she derived motivation to start the business from the difficult life she and her family led then.
“It all started at Single Quarters. Life was so hard then, as it was so difficult to find employment, yet I had to feed my babies. I knew I could not just sit home and wait for opportunities to come my way. I decided to stop at nothing in search for opportunities,” she recalls.
Although she has been disabled since she was 10 years old due to polio, which left her left leg immobile, Ambata did not let that deter her from making something out of her life. She used the N$50 a relative had given her to buy few second-hand materials, to get her business off the ground.
“Before I knew it, I was already making a lot of garments on order and that’s when I decided to move to the Horse Shoe Market at Single Quarters, as I was operating from home then and it wasn’t easy to maintain professionalism with my kids all over the place.”
Ambata (49) would eventually move from Single Quarters to Green Well for more business space. After years of existence, the business gave birth to the Etameko Tailor Sewing School two years ago. The school now has 17 students who pay N$250 for registration and N$150 per month, as school fees.
“I have partitioned the building into two; one side is for the business and the other is for the school. Currently, I have one permanent employee, as I don’t really need many, because with my students, it feels like employing 18 people as it is.”
One of the tailoring business’ clients include the Oloph Palme Primary School, which has roped in its services to make the school uniforms.
The mother of two only has a Grade 10 certificate to her name but says in future, she hopes to own a big business building, compared to where she operates now.
“I might be disabled on my leg but mentally, I am good. My hands can help me achieve a lot. I don’t need to go to the streets to beg when I can make a living. Being disabled should not be the end of the world. If you can make an honest living, go out there and do so for yourself and family. That is what I do,” she concludes.