When Brigitta Kanyetu greets you, she beams—a huge, warm smile spreads across her face and her eyes twinkle. Before you even know what she does for a living, it quickly becomes clear that she has a talent for connecting with people.
She is able to use that talent as she sources her customers for her business, Lee-Anne Corner Trading Enterprise. The company manufactures cleaning detergents from dishwashing liquid to engine and carpet cleaners among many others.
The business she named after her first grand daughter, has been operating at the Bokamoso Entrepreneurial Centre since 2010.
The married mother of two sons was born in the coastal town of Swakopmund. Coming out of a business oriented family, she says she got her inspiration from her parents do start her own business. Kanyetu worked at Old Mutual for nine years as a sales agent before deciding to take her pension and savings to embark on an entrepreneurial journey.
“I sat down with my husband and we brainstormed on different business ideas, explored many possibilities and decided to go into hospitality,” she adds.
Kanyetu and her husband decided to open a bed and breakfast business in Khomasdal. The business was running fairly well until she was approached by a friend to try investing in the chemical business.
She said her friend even taught her how to mix chemicals to make different types of detergents something she never thought she could do.
Kanyetu however, thought she needed to know more about starting such business and decided to take extensive training on the subject including the pros and cons of the business.
She attended a course in South Africa at Trimo Training and Marketing in Randfontein to better her skills and knowledge.
“I grew a lot of interest for this career and could not wait to start my business when I got back to Namibia, I even went on radio and encouraged other women do to the same,” she says.
Her business has now grown into supplying its chemicals so as far as Zambia. In July 2010, Kanyetu attended the SAITE Trade Fair in Johannesburg, South Africa as well as the International Agriculture and Commercial Show in Lusaka, Zambia. Also in the same year, Kanyetu attended a showcase in Dubai.
She envisions her business in the future only to grow and decentralise to other towns but also to export goods to other countries although she says it is very costly and she needs to be financially ready to do so.
Kanyetu says the important thing to her in her business is to value her customers and build a relationship with them that will raise their confidents in the products.
“Nowadays, business is challenging and people only buy products they know and trust, therefore the relationship with customers needs to be strong,” she says.
Despite having bigger competitors in the industry that have fixed customers and supply on a larger scale, Kanyetu says she is confident that her business will prosper over the years. However she says it is often challenging to keep up given that she is registered as an SME and is only able to scoop small tenders.
“Positive attitude and the will to succeed as well as confidents are the main ingredients to pull through the emerging challenges,” said Kanyetu.
Although she employs three permanent workers as well as casuals, Kanyetu spends most of her time in the factoring taking charge of the manufacturing of the chemicals to ensure accuracy.
On quiet business days, Kanyetu takes the time to groom the employees to take on bigger responsibilities so that her absence does not cease operations. She also coached one of her sons to handle the administration of the company.
According to Kanyetu, part of success in any business is having a heart to give back to the community not because you are bound by corporate social responsibility but out of kindness
She sponsors a non-government special school in Dordabis with her products as well as some elderly in Katutura.
She says she invests most of her profit in the business buying more machinery and other fixed assets that are needed to expedite productivity.
Kanyetu says that there is a need for businesses like hers in the country because it encourages cleanliness to prevent the outbreak of diseases.
“Hygiene is very important for our society in order to keep people healthy, therefore I think businesses like mine are necessary,” she says.
Kanyetu believes that it is imperative for every woman to be independent and have the pride of contributing equally to the household as her husband.
“It is good to be proud as a woman to feel a sense of ownership in your house, not only as a wife, but as the one who shares the expenses,” she says.
She therefore encourages women to develop their innovative business ideas into ways of making a living rather than depending on their husbands.
She says every big business started small, and therefore it’s important not to rush into becoming bigger by taking one step at a time with people close to you.
“When I started my business, I started inviting people in my cell phone contacts to be my customers. I did not target a bigger market at first because I knew if my products are good enough I will one day get there,” she concludes. PF