In the building and construction industry, reputation and trust are the cornerstones for continued growth. In order to build customer confidence, the industry must stand behind the quality of its work.
Rafael Hitukwawe Kandjumbi, owner of KRH Construction and Plumbing, says quality plays a vital role in the survival of any business.
“There is a lot of competition in the construction business, but people should not be afraid of competitors. If you do your work properly, with good quality and well-disciplined employees, that will market your business,” he says.
Once a village boy from Omafo in the Omusati Region, Kandjumbi thought he would one day own a business by himself.
After completing his secondary education, he joined the Namibian Defence Force in 2000, where he worked for eight years.
In 2008 Kandjumbi obtained a certificate in Information Technology from the International University of Management in the year 2008 before proceeding to do a diploma course at Institute of Information Technology the following year.
“I couldn’t further my studies due to lack of time since I had started working at my late brother’s construction company, as a site foreman,” he says.
While he was working for his brother, Kandjumbi underwent training offered to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by FNB and Pupkewitz.
“My late brother encouraged me to start my own construction business when he saw how dedicated and hardworking I was. He was impressed by my work and thought I would make a good business,” Kandjumbi recalls.
After meeting necessary requirements that one should poses in order to register a company, Kandjumbi formerly registered his company and quickly went into business.
To get himself familiarised with clients Kandjumbi signed an agreement with his elder brother Bruce to continue working for him.
“The agreement was that I would take the smaller tenders under my brother’s business. Since my brother had been in the industry for long, it was easy to do business under his wings. He helped me with everything, transport, materials and I would only provide the labour,” he says.
But when his brother passed away, everything was left for him to complete.
“I felt like my right arm had been cut off,” he recalls.
Kandjumbi says in the midst of the difficulties he was grateful that his brother had trained him well and showed him how to do business.
However, shortly after his brother’s death, business became elusive for Kandjumbi as he was still learning the ropes.
“My brother was well known and it was not hard to get jobs or to get in touch with people my brother was doing business with. In life one can’t really inherit friendship, so it was very difficult for me,” Kandjumbi says.
With hard work and determination, Kandjumbi managed to grow his business which now employes 12 people on a permanent basis.
In the following months Kandjumbi went on to scoop huge tenders such as the construction of offices and a workshop in Omaruru, a double storey university lecture hall in Oshakati and is currently building a multi-purpose youth complex in Gobabis.
He says he maintains good quality by employing qualified people and making sure he uses quality materials and that the job is properly done.
“I first train my artisans and then send them to school to ensure that they are properly qualified,” he says.
Currently, KRH only has two offices; the main branch in Windhoek and another in Oshakati.
Kandjumbi says he plans to open more branches in other towns.
“Each and every businessman’s plan is to expand his business and I am not an exception,” he says.
Kandjumbi says one of the challenges for small construction firms in Namibia is getting big tenders in the country.
“It’s not fair as for us upcoming business when Government awards big tenders to foreigners. We also need to learn how to manage big projects. It is true that we don’t have the requirements but when are we going to be qualified if we don’t get the jobs?” he quizzes.
Kandjumbi suggests that all big projects that are given to foreigners be sub-contracted to Namibian SMEs so that they can learn and later do it on their own.
“The foreigners should come in the country not only to do the jobs for us, but to groom us so we learn from them and at the end of the day we will fight unemployment,” he says.
He further stressed that SMEs are the highest contributors of employment in the country and should not be overlooked.
Kandjumbi adds that there is need to grow construction companies in Namibia as a way of ensuring development and economic growth in the country.
As part of his Corporate Social Responsibility, Kandjumbi constantly donates computers at schools, team kits to sports teams and also helps charitable organisations that ask for assistance.
“Be determined, put more effort, seek advice on how to establish a business, learn as much as you can and then anything is possible,” he advises emerging entrepreneurs. PF