A passion and drive for food production has saved Erikson Malwa from the merciless claws of unemployment and a gloomy future, a fate most young Namibians face including those holding tertiary qualifications.
Without wasting time, Erikson started a food producing company called Talamo Foods with personal savings complimented by financial assistance from his family.
He is now on cloud nine, thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit. He now calls the shots in his venture as the producer of his own line of sauces; Erikson’s Sauces, which have so far become household names in their own leagues. His venture has enabled him to cross the Atlantic for the first time in his life.
A food technologist by profession, he graduated from Unam some few years back with a Bsc in Agriculture, specialising in Food Science and Technology. Currently, he has a workforce of five people who are directly involved in all aspects of promoting the business.
Born and bred in the northern part of Namibia, this young entrepreneur, in his late 20’s, decided to pursue his passion and nurture it into a success, hence the birth of Erikson’s Sauces brand.
“It all started in 2008 at my first job in Walvis Bay while I was still getting the grasps of playing around with product development. I then developed an interest in specialty sauces and condiments. So I started trying out recipes and their processes,” explains Erikson.
He perfected his trial and error procedures over the years having noticed the absence of locally produced sauces on the Namibian shelves, which were mostly dominated by imported sauces.
In a bid to be amongst those who intend to industrialise Namibia by 2030, Erikson sees his business venture as an opportunity to act as a catalyst and to become a major driver in the Namibian economy, providing jobs and improving livelihoods of the masses.
“We have the best of the best; best beef, Kapana, biltong, the best beer, the best fish, the best hormone-free milk, the best tourism attractions, vast best minerals and now we have the best sauces to compliment the best list,” beams Erikson.
“Talamo Foods is still young and at an infant stage of making its foot mark in food manufacturing. Our level of operation currently is not profitable but it serves its purpose of awareness and promotion of the Erikson’s Sauces brand,” explains Erikson.
Erikson feels that the next step is to go full swing into commercial food production and distribution and the national promotion of Erikson’s Sauces brand is based on a profitable model.
Earlier this year, he attended an innovation summit in the USA organised by the United States Department. The summit brought 65 young African leaders from 42 countries together to promote positive changes in their communities from both social and business aspects. The summit was meant to give them a platform for networking, sharing of ideas and opportunities for growth.
“The summit also exposed Americans to the business challenges and economic opportunities in Africa. Topics we discussed included utilising technology, gaining access to capital, promoting foreign investment, messaging and branding, building public-private partnerships, financial management tools for SMEs and expanding networks as well as cultivating talent,” explains Erikson as he highlights the many weaknesses associated with the Namibian society.
Erikson also had an opportunity to attend one of the AGOA Summit sessions in Washington DC while in the States.
His business venture enabled him to be selected as one of the many candidates for the Washington DC event. He was ecstatic to attend it soon after the Namibian embassy in Washington notified him that he had made the cut at the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Programme with Young African Leaders (MPYAL).
“Self and money–discipline, passion, persistence, innovative, optimism, honesty (with ones-self and others), excellent communicator and leading by example has got me where I am today,” states Erikson.
Insufficient capital has been a problem that seems to hamper productivity in terms of volumes to produce, distribute and market his product but he is not giving in as yet.
“It’s not an easy thing creating a brand, especially for a new product,” stresses Erikson.
He feels the market is flooded with foreign brands and local products are suffocated and not given the same leverage.
Talamo Foods provides locally-made affordable sauces to enable Namibians to enjoy their own locally-made sauces as well as give low income groups a chance to enjoy good food. Talamo Foods also strives to reduce the overwhelming rate of unemployment.
With set goals and targets, he makes sure and tries not to leave stones unturned when he monitors his products, “I am satisfied with the progress I have made thus far, although I still believe there is a lot to do in order to achieve my ultimate goal of making Erikson’s Sauces part of every Namibian’s dish.”
Erikson sees himself among the significant drivers of the Namibian economy in the next five years. In addition to aspiring that his may be a success story, he would also like to be a role model and mentor to younger entrepreneurs across Namibia. PF