With the desire to be the best in his field and equiped with lots of accumulated knowledge, Erastus Ndatoolewe Ikela started a consulting firm; ENI Consulting Engineers, to offer civil engineering services to those who needed it.
Civil engineering is the branch of the engineering discipline that specialises in the design and construction of structures such as bridges, roads or dams.
Armed with a degree in engineering and a masters degree in Business Administration and with years’ worth of experience in his field, he has been the managing director (MD) of his consulting firm for two years.
Prior to starting his own business, Ikela worked in various organisation, some being as senior engineer at NamWater and as a deputy director and then as the director in the department of transport in the Ministry of Works and Transport. He was also the chief executive officer at Road’s Authority from 2007 to 2010.
“The motivation behind opening up my own business was of joining the community of indigenous consultancy firms currently present in the country,” Ikela says.
Not only has the firm been growing steadily, with an increase in its income but it has also seen growth in terms of human resources. It employs seven people including three engineers and three technicians.
As the need to expand his business grew, so did the need for a bigger infrastructure to accommodate the changes that occurred within the firm including a larger human capital.
In order to strengthen the business, he heeded a friend’s piece of advice to approach Namibian Procurement Fund (NamPro Fund) for the financial services he needed to expand his business, from where he received invoice discount facilities.
These services look into the fact that SMEs supplying bigger buyers or exporters and who extend credit terms to their buyers might just put a strain on the SMEs’ cash flow.
Therefore, funding ought to be done by way of discounting invoices against goods delivered with invoice payments, with deadlines not exceeding 90 days and with discounts for not more than 85% of invoice values.
Invoice discount services are some of the many services offered by NamPro Fund in a bid to empower small businesses in their endeavours.
No business prospers without having undergone any challenge, nor do the challenges ever really disappear throughout the journey; one just learns to manage them better.
Because of this principle, ENI Consulting Engineers still have some thorns in their path. Nevertheless, Ikela says these will not stop their progress.
“One of the challenges we still face is the competition from the most established engineering companies in the country. Furthermore, the engineering consulting firm has to work hard to maintain its positive cash flow balance,” he says.
In the past two years, his consulting firm has provided services for organisations such as the Ministry of Works and Transport in the Department of Works; the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the Mariental Municipality, the Gochas Village Council, the Aranos Town Council, just to name a few.
He realises that one way to keep his business developing is by skill empowerment, hence he plans on improving his workers’ level of knowledge.
“In order to combat competition, the company shall continue to innovate new ways of doing things and invest in the training of the human capital by training the employees,” he says.
After that, he will expect his employees to deliver the best services, which will maintain his engineering business on the map for more years to come.