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A business with a philanthropic hand

by Honorine Kaze



While others start up business ventures for their own economic empowerment, Hilja Ipumbu’s story is different.
Ipumbu runs Erundu Kindergarten Sewing Project to assist orphans and vulnerable children.
Being a student at Unam studying for a diploma in Community Development, she realised that education is the most important tool for every child’s foundation, yet there are so many who cannot have it due to varying reasons.
“In a settlement where most people live in kambashus and do not understand the necessity of education, some blame it on the lack of resources but others do not just care about it enough as they spend their money on alcohol,” she explains.
So she started assisting children in her community, especially orphans, in 2009 by offering them lessons either after school or during the day.
Soon, she realised that other kids who cannot afford school fees also needed her help. However, she needed monetary assistance in order to buy the necessary books and other necessities to offer more to the children.
After realising that need, Ipumbu started a sewing project in 2011. She applied for financial assistance to buy two sewing machines, which were donated by the Association of Diplomatic Spouses of Namibia (ADSN).
With the machines, she and three other ladies started the sewing business mostly Oshiwambo clothing, which she says have a stable clientele-base.
“We do get a number of demands; even from people in the North. However, our small business is still at an early stage, so we are sometimes short on material. However, some of our clients come with their own materials,” she says.
She adds that she has recently had talks with some schools for which she will be able to make school uniforms.
While she started giving lessons to the orphans from her room, she has since managed to build an extra room with corrugated iron sheets using the money she gets from her sales. “I have furnished the room with a couple of mattresses for the comfort of the small children or babies who I care for,” she enthuses.
She has also managed to get some chairs from a church and she sometimes gets food from a life changing centre based in Windhoek North. She currently offers lessons to about 25 children.
“It makes me happy knowing that the first children I started helping have managed to enrol in schools and are now in Grade 5,” she beams.
Although it is not proving easy, she is pushing to make her business venture go further to be able to help more children.
“Even though I face financial problems, it is my will to keep helping those children. So, my hope is that the sewing project gets bigger and more profitable,” Ipumbu concludes.