Investment plans proves fruitful for Nam workers

By Theresia Tjihenuna
April 2013
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Since its inception, Labour Investment Holdings (LIH) has been seeking to make a positive impact on the development of workers nationally by creating wealth for them through various investment plans.

The company, which is the business leg of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), has so far benefited workers from respective companies through its share distributions in various industries. Such sectors include fishing, mining and financial service companies, including Epango Fishing Company, Bidvest, Craft Holdings and various others that directly impact members of the unions like the funeral company, Avbob.

The chief executive officer (CEO) Jacqueline Prince explains, “The LIH helps drive projects that are intended to have a positive outcome for the country and its workers. For example, a union member can go to Avbob and have their funeral costs subsidised. When Avbob performs well, LIH gets very good dividends that are in turn used for workers’ benefits. This works perfectly for all the parties involved because as a shareholder in Avbob, the LIH has negotiated a deal for the union members who use Avbob services.”

Prince says that they are also part of the joint venture fishing company, Epango, which in 2011, received fishing rights for Horse Makerely. They are also partners to Kraft Holdings, which was awarded the tender to transport copper and iron ore for Weatherly mining (owned by previously disadvantaged Namibians).

According to her, one of the major benefits of the company is the provision of annual dividends to the NUNW members. The company also sponsors educational programmes of industrial unions, congresses and conferences as well as labour court cases to defend workers’ interests.

“While the company makes decisions according to its business principles, it must also be cognisant of its role in uplifting local workers and by paying special attention to the development goals of the nation. LIH’s vision and mission is to uplift workers by adding real value to their lives while positively impacting Namibia,” she says.

One of the projects of this labour investment company, which has been well implemented and is already yielding fruit is the bursary scheme.

“LIH has a bursary programme for the children of union members. It includes a development programme administered by Niro Consulting,” Prince submits.

The company’s student development programme (SDP) is structured along effective, hands-on approach, which ensures that students get the best support structure to complete their studies.

Prince confirms that since the beginning of March 2011, Niro Consulting Services cc has managed to facilitate the first two phases of the SDP including the submission of a bi-monthly evaluation report on their activities. It has also introduced methods of interaction with students including activities and intervention programmes. “These include one-on-one sessions with students, empowerment meetings and assertive retreats, which is the third phase of the programme,” Prince highlights.

During these periods, each of the LIH bursary students are usually scheduled for consultation sessions in which each of them are guided and advised by a life skills and career guidance consultant.

“It is very easy for these students to drop out of the school if they do not receive regular mentoring and counseling. Thus, we guide them until they complete their studies,” she says, adding that all the LIH bursary holders are students from previously disadvantaged families whose members are of the unions they represent.

As a woman of power, Prince says her upbringing played a vital role in her career; “My mother was my mentor. She never accepted the notion that women are inferior to men.”

Prince studied business management at Damelin College as well as marketing and human resource management at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She would later take up marketing studies through Dameline College and then obtained a Masters’ degree in business administration through the Management School of Southern Africa. Thereafter, she worked at the Legal Assistant Centre (LAC) as a legal secretary between 1991 and 1992.

In her early years, she received training on counselling rape victims and survivors as well as physically abused women. During that time, she learnt a great deal about what women endure on a daily basis, as is evident with the brutal killings as well as mental and physical abuse women undergo so often.

“I also worked in Parliament for 10 years as a special assistant to the Chairman of the National Council, Asser Kapere,” she reveals.

In December 2010, the former LIH board member, Cleophas Mutjavikua, approached her to fill in the position of CEO at the company.

She is of the opinion that the biggest challenge LIH currently faces is reminding Namibians about the significant role the LIH plays in the lives of its beneficiaries (NUNW and affiliate members). As such, it is working on how best to approach the challenge to acquire the necessary support at national level.

One of the most important components of her position, she says, is time management; “With so many engagements possible in a day, it is difficult to squeeze in everything. Typically, I begin my days by responding to emails and text messages. I also often have outside meetings and board duties that must be attended to but it is the satisfaction I get from my work that keeps me going.”

“What really makes my job worthwhile is knowing that this company has the means to have a positive impact on the overall growth and development of this country,” she enthuses. PF