Entrepreneur urges financial institutions to support emerging forces

By Farai Diza
February 2013
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Entrepreneurship is no longer a term solely reserved for former business executives and seasoned employees. Gone are the days where young adults followed traditional career paths. Instead, today’s trailblazers are creating their own opportunities.

In today’s fast paced Namibian business sector, a wave of young entrepreneurs are carving a niche for themselves in the technology, social media and fashion and beauty industries, to name a few. However, the lack of financial backing is hindering their existence.

Given the high rate of unemployment in the country - which–currently stands at 52% - a significant number of Namibians are now venturing into their own businesses.

Ethics Group Holdings Managing Director, Elia Haufiku, 24, is urging financial institutions to make resources available to young entrepreneurs as they are the emerging force behind economic growth.

“There are a lot of young entrepreneurs who are coming up, but most of them end up throwing in the towel due to a lack of loans from financial institutions. We cannot run away from the fact that the Namibian unemployment rate is growing ,hence the need for young people to be creative and use their skills to start their own businesses,” says the Polytechnic of Namibia graduate.

Ethics Group Holdings specialises in the freelance filming of events, conferences and corporate functions. It also produces educational and music videos in addition to an online student newspaper that was recently added to the company’s portfolio. The company has never received any form of financial support since they started operations.

“I have never received any financial assistance from any institution; I use my own resources to inject into the business so that it continues running. Finance is always a challenge for me because banks take long to respond to loan applications. That has often led to the abandonment of promising business ventures by young Namibians,” professes Haufiku.

In addition to sustaining his business at a relatively young age, the soft spoken Haufiku employs seven youths, with the eldest aged 26 - a testimony to his zeal for eradicating the high unemployment rate that mostly affects school leavers and tertiary level graduates.

“I am giving opportunities to youngsters and I get so many requests; some offer to work for free so that they can gain experience. There is so much I can offer to give employment to these young people. My hope is to get a loan one day and put my exciting concepts into action, which will be of benefit to more young people. I am taking it one step at a time by implementing my projects every year,” he states.

The ambitious Haufiku is gearing himself to reach the same heights as his role models. “I want to become the next Frans Indongo. I am really inspired by people who have created wealth and I will do just that, because I have put my entire mind into it. Each time I walk into town, I am inspired by the tall buildings that I see, knowing that someone built them from scratch. People who own these structures breathe the same air that I do and I can do it. I also read inspirational books written by people who have done well in life. The future has no limits,” says Haufiku.

Born on April Fools Day – 1 April 1988 – Haufiku would have felt fooled if someone had told him that he would be running his own business by the age of 22. Raised by his grandmother, he completed his primary school education at Eemboo Primary School in Ruakana before enrolling at Elakabalwa Junior Secondary School. The 10km walk to school did not prevent him from scooping the 29 points that led him to Iipumbu Secondary School in Oshakati.

In 2007, he enrolled at the Polytechnic of Namibia to study for a Degree in Public Management. There Haufiku formed the Polytech Entrepreneurship Society and the Public Management Society that had former Prime Minister Nahas Angula as its patron.

In 2009, he participated in a business simulation workshop and the opportunity presented him with business ideas that took him to the 2010 Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC) business competition. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

“I came out second in the business competition and received N$2 500 as my prize. I bought myself a second hand computer with N$2 000 and I used the other N$500 for transport and other general expenses. I was then assisted by the NBIC with my company registration and I was the first tenant at the NBIC incubator. I was guided by the notion that if you believe in yourself and in what you do, there are no limits and I managed to come this far,” explains Haufiku who has seen his company moving to the CBD.

Haufiku has wise words for young people who hope to venture into business one day.

“The first thing to do is to have the right attitude. Young people must be discouraged from running away from their cultures because the advice that we get from our parents is the foundation that builds opportunities. Those that failed grade 12 must pick themselves up by surrounding themselves with positive minded people and believe in themselves. The future is in our hands,” he concludes. PF