Caprivi’s momprenuer in charge

Event management is an exciting and growing industry, as well as a unique career opportunity for most people with a passion for planning and organising events.

In its holistic nature, event management is the application of project management to the creation and development of festivals, events and conferences.

Judith Mwilima has broken new ground braving a patriarchal philosophy in this business which many regard as very unique but exhilarating.

Paying a deaf ear to the mysteries surrounding the profession, where women in the trade are often to regarded as ‘loose’ or ‘wild’, Judith Mwilima has engaged into this lucrative but unique industry, becoming the first and only person in Katima Mulilo to run an event management company.

She is the owner and founder of Fresh Functions and Events Organisers, a sole proprietor business, eastern Namibia’s largest event management company. Her company provides decoration services, card designing, event planning and organising, video filming for social andbusiness gatherings.

A journey that took a lot of determination, consistency and hard work for a mother of three.

Born in Katima Mulilo, in October 1981, Judith Mwilima always had a passion for décor and modelling.

She went to Ngwezi Primary and then Caprivi Senior Secondary school. After completing her secondary education, she worked for Legal Shield as a Telemarketer from 2003 to 2004.

Upon her resignation in the same year, Mwilima started a beauty salon and a modelling school in Ongwediva, to nurture a passion and a dream born a decade before when she became the first ‘Miss Katima Mulilo’ in 1994 whilst she was still doing Grade 9.

“I encourage fellow women to start their own businesses and stop complaining about unemployment. The nation needs women who are job creators and not seekers in order to fight unemployment,” says Mwilima.

Today, she does not hide the fact that she has enjoyed a monopoly in eastern Namibia, which has allowed her business to flourish.

Mwilima has since organised events such as the Miss Ongwediva Trade fair, Miss Caprivi 2007 and 2008, and the 2006 Miss Kavango Beauty Pageants shows respectively.

To appreciate the support from the community, Mwilima started a fund meant to pay school fees for five vulnerable kids from five different schools in Caprivi region. In addition, from August this year onwards, a number of schools in Caprivi and Kavango regions will have their matric farewell functions sponsored by Fresh Functions and Events Organisers.

“In business, you need to start small; dream big and gradually you will be there. Perseverance and hard work are remedies for successful entrepreneur. It becomes easy to give back to society, because you know the fruits of your labour are also partly because of their support. It takes approximately five years in business to have a solid income, which is where patience comes,” she says.

Currently, she is working on a project in the Caprivi region to help flood victims with accommodation and come up with a sustainable plan in case there might be another similar anomaly in future.

She says, “The flood victims in the Caprivi who are willing to relocate permanently from the affected areas once land is availed to them and those who at present had voluntarily relocated already to higher ground will be getting permanent structures. This project is meant to assist more people in relocating permanently from the flooded areas which will also be cost effective for the Government and stakeholders who will be spared the from the expenses incurred in relocating people from the affected areas and feeding them as well as rebuilding the destructed structures.”

The project will see a dinner on the 25th of this month (June) organised with the backing of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Disaster Management Unit in raising money for the flood victims in Caprivi region.

Inspired by her father, she finds it very disturbing that event management is painted black by most people in the African community, who liken and link it with prostitution.

“Some even say beauty pageant is not proper and is promoting prostitution, but you have to look at it closer to understand it.”

Despite being a momprenuer, Mwilima is a third year student studying towards a degree in Business Administration and is set to receive a Certificate in Business from the Polytechnic Centre for Entrepreneurial, an Old Mutual programme that target women in business.

Interestingly, her eldest daughter, 13 year old Mirror, has already taken up after her mother and is into modelling.

“I gave her that name (Mirror) because she resembles me. She has already won several beauty titles, despite her tender age.”

Mwilima is married to Martin Sanjahi and her other kids are Paddy and Denzel.

Concludes Mwalema, “I have over the years grown from organising school events to bigger events. This has enabled me to interact with different people from different levels. But I am still looking forward to achieving more and going as far as planning national events.” PF