Muronga's fairytale

By Rosalia David
November - December 2015

Armed with exuberance, belief and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA), the son of a domestic worker, Isdor Muronga (33) from Katima Mulilo has refused to let challenges in business determine his destiny.

Muronga believes that Namibians have to take the initiative in combating a plethora of challenges in the health sector, including skills’ shortages, structural administrative challenges and the unavailability of funds to buy equipment.

He put his belief into action, and set up a medical centre called Medirad Namibia in Tsumeb, and he hopes to expand further.

“We are planning on opening up a new branch in Otavi, if that pulls through we would employ more people”, Muronga says.

The state-of-the-art medical centre which caters for the majority of the citizens from the north and north-eastern parts of the country, offers services including compute tomography scans and X-Rays. The medical centre currently employees 10 professionals, and his quest is to grow the practice and employ about 120 people in future.

“The main reason for starting-up the medical imaging business is to change the status quo of medical imaging found within the country. Such services are centralized in big towns, while there is a lack of such services in the remote towns and villages, which prompted me to start up my business,” Muronga explained to Prime Focus.

He also believes that the country’s over-reliance on expatriate labour in an essential sector such as health is Isdor Muronga one which needs a holistic approach to solve.

“The private health sector in general is dominated by expatriates. Therefore, as a Namibian, I felt obliged to take charge of the sector because I always wanted to be an entrepreneur to create jobs with ideas which can improve the lives of many people, especially those who reside in the remotest areas in the country,” he stated.

Reminiscent of many young people who were raised in villages, Muronga draws inspiration from his grandmother. He, unlike many who have dreams but never follow them, believes the sky is the limit, and also concurs that Namibia has set up a perfect environment for doing business. Locals can thus only but take advantage of it.

“After completing primary school at the Andara Combined School,the Roman Catholic Church’s Father Heinrich Ostroski took up the responsibility to pay for my school fees because at that stage, my late mother had due to her illness lost her job as a domestic worker at the Catholic missionaries’ residence. He then decided to enrol me for grades 11 and 12 at a secondary school called the Caprivi Senior Secondary School situated in Katima Mulilo in the then-Caprivi region”, he explained.

Perhaps, the help from the Catholic Church was what moulded him to be a good corporate citizen.

After completing grade 12, he enrolled to study Diagnostic Radiography so that by the time he completed the course, he would be able assist those in need in villages. After three years of study, he went back and opened an X-ray department for the newly-extended and renovated Andara Catholic Hospital.

“I was required to work for no less than three years at the hospital. I decided to enrol for a course in business administration, and after three years, I left the hospital and pursued a different career.

While working, I never stopped studying, and at the moment I hold an MBA, amongst other qualifications. Am pursuing a DBA, after which I plan to enroll for a qualification in law, specializing in medical law”, he enthused.

Muronga confessed that it is never easy to be at the top as it needs hard work and commitment. “Starting up a medical imaging business is extremely expensive because with the new technologies, one needs an amount not less than a million Namibian dollars to set up one department. Like many new entrepreneurs, I started by developing a comprehensive business plan and submitted it to financial institutions.

My business plan was rated as bankable and viable by many institutions, but unfortunately none could finance it because the owner (me), could not provide enough security or collateral for the loan”, he decried.

Muronga is currently working on opening a new branch in Otavi.

“Before opening in Omuthiya, people who needed medical imaging services were transported to the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital, which is situated more than 60 km from Omuthiya. But when we opened a branch there, the services were brought closer”, he stated.

Like any businessman, Muronga faces challenges such as the lack of qualified medical personnel in the country; the difficulties of bringing in expatriates when opening a new branch; as well as a lack of funds to open more branches in remote towns and villages.

He, nonetheless, believes that nothing is impossible and with the notion as such he would like to see Medirad take charge of both the public and private health sectors.

“I am confident that in less than five years, the current exaggerated medical costs will be significantly reduced, making it affordable to many Namibians” he said confidently.