CLOCKNET, ahead of times
CLOCKNET Technology Centre is Namibia’s young and dynamic IT company that is fast growing and making inroads within the Information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
The company is among the more enterprising black-woman led IT companies in the country.
Owned by Regina Shikongo, Clocknet provides services such as computer sales and training, computer repairs and other accessories accessories.
While other “children of the struggle” where busy demonstrating, camping and demanding jobs from the government, Shikongo, also a ‘child of the struggle’ was busy growing her business and creating jobs in the process.
Born in Kwanza Zul, Angola, the 29 year-old says the success of Clocknet Technology Centre did not come on a silver platter.
“There are many well established IT companies in the country and the competition is quite higher, however at Clocknet we are not afraid of competition as we strive to always be ahead of the psck.”
Recently, the company became the second recipient of the Development Bank of Namibia Innovation Fund, when it was given a N$ 50 000 non refundable loan. The Fund provides financial support to entrepreneurs with original business concepts which have the potential to deliver new or improved products and services to the market.
“At first we were four in this business, however the rest had to quit as the business was taking too long to take shape and there were many other setbacks,” says Shikongo.
After graduating with a Diploma in PC Engineering at the Institute of Information Technology, Shikongo like many other new graduates struggled to find a job and that was when the idea to set up a business and be her own boss struck.
Together with three other partners, they registered the company in 2005 but operations did not take off until mid 2008. This was due to the fact that they could not raise enough funds among themselves and the banks could not offer them a Loan as they did not have the required collateral.
However, they managed to raise funds among themselves and bought a few computers that were used for mainly training purposes.
“When we bought the computers with the money we collected among ourselves we started our first operations in 2007 in Wanaheda, Katutura.”
However, luck was not on their side as burglars broke into their premises and stole the computers.
“This was a major setback to us as we did not have the funds to replace the stolen equipment.”
This incident was demoralizing and led to the other three partners quitting.
The following year in April, Clocknet managed to get financial assistance from Bank Windhoek through the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) support programme.
The funds helped Clocknet move to its new premises in town in the Old Breweries, Garten Street and in buying office equipments.
The company has since been growing and its owner has been on a roll, winning awards. She entered the 2009 Business Woman of the Year award and came third as the youngest business Woman of the year and at the Enterprise Competition 2009, she came third as the most innovative entrepreneur.
Clocknet main clients are the government ministries and other public institutions, but also private sector customers and individuals.
“We offer training mainly to government employees, particularly those working within the IT departments”.
The institution trains about ten clients per month and offers individual attention to its students. The company has two up to date classrooms where students can enjoy the maximum attention of an instructor during their training and helping them to acquire the necessary skills.
“My biggest achievement is the fact that Clocknet is still in business, despite many challenges. I have to compete with big IT companies of which many are male-led; however I take these challenges as opportunities which helped me in marketing the company as the first woman led IT enterprise in the country.”
Apart from training, the company also specializes in Office Network Setups, Internet Setup, Virus Cleaning, Data Recovery, as well as Graphics and web design technology.
These services are offered to both public and private institutions.
Commenting on IT literacy levels in Namibia, Shikongo points to the fact that virtually everything in the world is becoming computerized. “Basically everybody should become IT literate regardless of age or gender, although particular emphasis should be given to children and the youths. Namibians must brace themselves for growth in the IT sector,” she notes.
“IT has revolutionalised the way we conduct our everyday activities, be it at work, home or schools. It is, therefore, important that the government ensures that learners and the youth are adequately skilled in IT to be able to compete with other youths from around the world”.
She said while the government policy on IT is good, the country is still at infancy stage when compared to other countries. She says there is a need to establish public IT centers in rural areas as well as in lower grades countrywide to avoid a knowledge gap between rural and urban youth.
“Many IT centers are located in urban areas and urban youths are getting more exposure to IT skills leaving behind their rural counterparts”.
Shikongo who is also a founding member of the Young Minds, an SME support network, said that there is a need for the government to establish many SME incubator centres around the country, but in strategic places. Young Minds is aimed at strengthening collaboration among SMEs by regularly discussing mutual challenges, sharing experiences and advice.
“There is a need for more incubator centres around the country, and they should be located in strategic places where customers and clients are available. I have seen a case where an SME opened up business operations within a Central Business District (CBD) but due to high rental fees they were forced to close down”.
“If the government starts looking into establishing incubator centres in CBDs, it will really be a relief to SMEs when it comes to paying rental fees which are often unaffordable.”
The Clocknet team consists of three instructors, Saima Nepaka, a part time Systems Administration student at the Polytechnic of Namibia, Nataniel Iita, Senior Technician and Instructor, Andrew Nahole, Assistant Technician and Instructor, besides Shikongo who is also a qualfied PC Engineer.
Shikongo describes the instructors as young and courageous youths with extensive experience in the field of IT.
According to Shikongo, Clocknet survives by being proactive. The company offers industry recognized certificates in MS office 2007, N+ and A+ practice, Cisco Networking, and A+ Software and Hardware. PF