EENHANA- The joyous but soft spoken Namibian youth, Beata Kamati, is the president of Eenhana Knitting Association (EKA) which comprises of four young women.
United in a cooperative they are interested and involved in knitting different products ranging from sweaters, scarves, Oshiwambo traditional dress called Odelela, for both adults and children.
Beata says knitting has made the young women in the cooperative respectable in the business and in their communities in the Ohangwena Region. “Before we were considered as uneducated young ladies who had to stay home and look after our families because we failed to go to Unam or Polytechnic or even vocational education and training.
These projects have changed our lives so far because we are empowered and have improved the livelihood of our families so far,” says Beata.
The Eenhana Knitting Association has 12 knitters from four primary knitting cooperatives. The Association received its national registration from the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 2011 and has so far established itself as a small and medium enterprise in the region. Beata, 23, and now a mother of two, did not get the chance of enrolling into secondary education.
“I first became the first female chairperson or president of the cooperative on July, 1, 2011 and I am completing my term in office. I am happy that knitting has given me the opportunity I never dreamt of having since my childhood. Currently, I can speak a few words in English and it’s amazing,” she reveals.
“I didn’t get a chance to complete school as other young ladies here in the region to get even a professional job because of the several obstacles. I got married and became a full time house wife. But God, Kalunga, knew I was destined for a lot more.
That is how He granted me the knitting skills and that have paid off in amicable ways,” says Beata.
Her brother brought over N$ 5 500 and some few machines from Windhoek because he wanted to help women to start an economic cooperative.
“For sometime the machines were not put to use because women didn’t know how to operate them.
My brother did not even hope so he got people to train us on how to use the machines. Today his wish has come to pass because we are economically growing.”
Today the cooperative has an annual client, Eenhana Boutique, and other traditional cultural festivals who place orders for different products some of which they export to Angola and South Africa, apart from the local individuals,” she explains
Eenhana Knitting Association first went into business with the Namibian Luxury Association in 2010. “On individual basis it would have been hard to attain such a clientele base. Since most of us didn’t go to school and don’t speak English, we were lucky that my brother from Windhoek brought us tutors who are teaching us both the English language and knitting at no cost,” Beata explains.
She adds that the Eenhana Knitting Association first pays the cooperatives half of the money before they knit the products and the other portion of the money is paid after completing the job.
“Just like other businesses, our biggest challenge is attaining the raw materials that we use for knitting.
For example, the threads we use, it can be imported from China or South Africa and getting them is so hard.
With our Association, they bring us the threads and they just pay us for the labour,” she says. Each member is given eight percent of the money we receive while 20 percent is saved in the cooperative’s bank account after completing a job.
In case any member of the cooperative gets a problem, the money saved is used.
“Today I am happy that my family has greatly benefited from this initiative from my brother.
For instance, all of us have a health insurance and our children are now going to school and kindergarten,” Beata excites.
Most uneducated Namibian women are scared of involving themselves in business. “They prefer staying at home and don’t want to join cooperatives because they think they are not profitable,” Beata observes. She encourages other young and youthful Namibian women, especially those from the rural areas and communities and small towns to put their God-given talents to use, even if they haven’t completed school. Meantime, she is planning to go for a knitting course with a certain college in Walvis Bay next year.