Former Namib Mills’ Marketing Manager and Team Namibia Chief Executive Officer Margaret Gustavo has now set up a company specialising in marketing and branding.
She believes the company Cornerstone Joe Public Ltd, in which she has 80% shareholding, has potential to improve access to exportation for Namibian products, which for many years have failed to break into the international market.
“Namibia has a population of only two million, but what I have realised about Namibian products is that they are always of good quality. So, why not export our products and come up with new things as we are not just limited to this market?” she asked.
She emphasised that there are three components of nation-branding, which is exports, tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI).
“I think Namibia is really seen as peaceful in terms of reputation. We are at par with other African countries to put Namibia on the map,” she stated.
Gustavo, who has experience under her belt from several companies which she has worked for like MultiChoice, Desert Research, Team Namibia and Namib Mills, decided to move away from being an employee to becoming an employer.
This saw her coming up with an idea of starting-up a consultancy to help businesses with strategies, and take Namibia to greater heights.
“I just got to this point where I said to myself it is time to move on, but I was not sure what I needed to do. There were options of either finding a new job, or studying and doing my PhD in Communication at the University of Pretoria because that is my passion. I wanted to see how countries can transform themselves. Brands are just the perceptions people have of something, so I was thinking of how we can strategise on that,” she added.
This came about when she was still the marketing manager at Namib Mills. At that time, the company was busy working on the chicken brands, and she was thus looking for a plan to help come up with strategies of these brands.
She searched on the Internet, and found a company named Joe Public (Pty) Ltd. This is a South African-based company which spoke about strategies, and that is when she knew she would work with these partners in future. In 2013, she thus partnered with that company.
Today, Cornerstone Joe Public (Pty) Ltd offers management consultancy services in the areas of brand management, marketing and communications’ strategy development to businesses who want to be leaders in their respective industries in Namibia.
She says working for Namib Mills was a very rewarding five years. “When I looked at my Curriculum Vitae, I realised that I was always at a company for two-and-a-half years,” she explained.
“I felt the sense of urgency that it is time to move on. Especially with brand management, it also becomes like you are stopping and blocking new ideas that have been in your system for too long. You realise you need to have some new ideas to take the brand to the next level,” she says.
Gustavo says she was born a leader, an encourager and a business owner. However, setting-up a business of her own was not so easy.
“One of the key challenges you face when establishing a company is that you have to do everything yourself. That is a mind-shift, and it takes a lot of hard work. You need to build your confidence, and you are overwhelmed by the naivety that you had of starting a business. You need the mental power. I had to learn to be strong,” Gustavo stressed.
She added that a lot of people did not see the value of what was being done, so there was a need to market that value and educate people of the value of managing a brand and stakeholder expectations.