Bennet Bessinger, owner of Reho Sign Factory injured himself in a diving accident, which left him paralysed waist down. But despite his inability to walk around and perform the typical handyman jobs, he has managed to wheel himself to success.
The former electrical intern at Windhoek Electric has created a printing business using just his feeble personal savings. He currently runs his business in the Khomasdal suburb from the Catholic Church premises where he rents a workshop and has four employees, including his wife.
The rent payment for this place is just one of the many expenses he pays with the little income he gets from his printing business.
“My circumstances were difficult, so I decided to start the signage business, because I do not need to walk around to work. I saw the need for this business venture and decided to start it with my own money and slowly built it up to where it is today,” says Bessinger.
Even though he is surrounded by an aura of contentment and humility, Bessinger laments that he encounters severe discrimination from prospective clients because of his disability, adding that clients often want him to prove his ability to deliver before placing orders with him.
“People want me to make samples first in order for them to be convinced that I can actually do the job. My biggest challenge is to convince people that I am well capable of doing the job but they just dont want to take my word for it; they always want me to prove it to them first,” he notes.
He further expresses his desire to create work opportunities for himself and his peers, because as he says, disabled people usually have difficulty in getting job opportunities.
In the 2011 SNIEDA awards held in Windhoek recently, Bessinger walked away with the Business Leader award. He also received the award for the best Small, Medium Enterprise (SME) at the 2009 Ongwediva Trade Fair.
He says he plans on opening a centre for disabled people where they can be trained to create employment for themselves in an effort to contribute to the Vision 2030.
He further notes that he is working hard towards this goal, because disabled people are still severely overlooked when it comes to employment and he wishes to change this both in creating jobs as well as changing the mindset of people by providing quality work .
Currently, Bessinger takes in disabled workers on a casual basis depending on the client orders he receives, because he does not want to create any ‘false hopes’ for the workers, especially if there is no money to pay them as fulltime employees.