Risk-taking is, most of the time, the first step to the realisation of one’s dreams.
And risk is what Mary Shikukutu took when she ventured into her business; NT Oshini Mahangu Suppliers cc as her friends believed that it would not last long.
“Initially, I wanted to start the business as a joint venture with other friends. However, they argued that a business in mahangu milling would not be successful in the capital, as mahangu is mostly consumed in the rural areas,” Shikukutu recalls.
That argument did not stop her from going solo with the venture in 2008 using her personal savings as start-up capital. At first, it dealt only with mahangu milling.
“I started up the business with one small hammer machine that processed the mahangu milling,” she points out.
But to her surprise, her business got quite an impressive clientele-base that she realised that her small machine could no longer manage the heavy production it was subjected to.
At that time, she worked with only two ladies who did all the work including maintenance and repair of the machine but they were lucky to receive assistance from her husband time and again who is an engineer by profession.
Currently, Shikukutu’s business employs four people and uses six heavy machines.
Her workforce is entirely composed of only ladies and ironically, as she points out, most of her customers are men while the general perception is that women are the ones who buy or request for her services - another indication that maybe gender equality is improving in Namibia.
Her business has grown and in addition to the milling service, she does packaging as well as dehulling, which refers to the removing the mahangu grain skins.
However, currently, she is facing the challenge of storage space as hers has become smaller compared to the quantity of grains she gets from the North, especially during harvest time. Additionally, she has been experiencing a transport problem as she relies mostly on people to bring her the grains.
Shikukutu intends to solve all these obstacles with time as she is eying possibilities and capital from potential investors to buy her own plot from where she can operate her fledging business.
She makes the bulk of her business profits at 60% from the milling service while the rest come from the packaging and other services.
Her fees vary according to the services rendered with the milling of a 25-litre container costing N$20 per litres whilst dehulling of skins goes for N$10. Packaging of a five-kilogram bag costs N$48 and a 12.5kg is charged at N$135.
“I’m happy with the pace at which my business is moving and I see a bright future for it. I recommend to everybody else to always try out realising their dreams, otherwise, they would not know if it would work out or not,” Shikukutu beams.