Whether it is for biltong, chilli bites, sausages or just meat, it can be hard to choose where to go, especially in a town that does not give its residents many a choices.
In Tsumeb, Inge Araes-Nekongo’s meat market is setting the stage as it captures a significant market share through quality products and service delivery.
Being the only woman in the business [in that area], Araes-Nekongo describes her butchery as a one-stop for all meat lovers. Apart from raw take-away meat, the butchery also serves ready-made meals including barbequed meat (braai) with side dishes.
The married mother of five once earned a mere N$150 as a monthly salary from her first job at the only butchery in Tsumeb at that time, working as a cashier. That’s when her inquisition on how the meat is processed, from the time an animal is slaughtered to the time the meat is sold to consumers, started.
Araes-Nekongo would spend most of her free time in the butchery to observe the workers turn the meat into different products.
Ten years into her job, she tried landing a position that would allow her to work directly in meat production but her boss would not let her, citing inexperience. So she applied for a butchery supervisor at a local supermarket (Alpha Koop Supermarket) and was hired.
“When my previous boss found out about my new position, he regretted letting me go. He even asked me why I never told him that I could do the job,” she relates.
Five years later, she left Alpha Koop for Kierie Spar Supermarket for the same position, which she held for another five years. Before long, she was promoted to being a floor supervisor.
“My superiors set targets for me to meet, which I would surpass. I would make up to N$300 000 for the supermarket but as you can imagine, I would only get a small percentage of that. That is when I realised I was robbing myself. I figured, it was me who knew how to do the job, so why couldn’t I do it on my own?” she says.
Hoping that the customers from her previous workplaces would follow her wherever her work took her given the good service she always gave them, she decided to spend her entire life-savings to start her own butchery. “It had always been my dream to be my own boss by the time I turned 50, so I quit my job at the age of 48 to start my own business. Two weeks after I resigned, I embarked on a hunt for a building to start my business. All I had at that time was the N$140 000 I had saved and my 27 years of experience,” she recounts.
Being the only one in her family to own a medium scale business, Araes-Nekongo’s motivation came from local businessman Frans Indongo’s success.
Although starting a butchery was her ultimate dream, she plans to open a supermarket, yet keep the butchery as one of its sections.
Without the community and the clients who support her, her business would not have existed even for a year. Hence, she lives by the slogan: ‘We need each other’.
As many entrepreneurs would testify, she tried her hand in other businesses like sewing, to no avail.
“It was God’s will that I start this business. That is why I believe it will prosper,” she submits adding: “Part of the little profit I make, I give back to the community.”
Since she started her business in 2010, Araes-Nekongo has been attending entrepreneurial courses because she believes one can never know it all at, learning continues in business ownership.
Being that Tsumeb is a small town and hers is the second stand-alone butchery, Araes-Nekongo’s main challenge remains her competitor, which she believes is just what she needs to always deliver the best to her customers.
“I deliver exactly what I know my customers expect from me and my prices are affordable. My business environment is also welcoming and that is what makes me stand-out,” she beams.
Although Araes-Nekongo’s main clients are regular households, her three employees help her cater at events.
The 51-year-old’s marketing strategies include old and new media like posters, flyers, Tsumeb’s newsletters, as well as social network advertisements.
She urges her fellow business owners to value their clients equally because, “money does not have a mark to show whether it has come from a poor or a rich person.”
“Smile at all your customers because what they bring into your business is what makes you happy at the end of the day. You must know their preferences, that way, you are able to cater to everyone’s needs with the same urgency,” she adds.
She plans to expand her business to six or seven branches countrywide, including the neighbouring town - Grootfontein - where she was born.
Even though she gets some of her products from the Hartlief Corporation, her main suppliers are local farm owners.
But all isn’t flesh and blood, Araes-Nekongo also hosts annual talent shows, as well as beauty pageants, which occur every second year. However, her main project is preparing meals for the Tsumeb Old Age home once a year.
“Let married women take it from me; being a wife should not stop you from doing anything worthwhile for yourself,” she says, adding in conclusion; “As long as you are not disabled, you can do it for yourself.” PF