Dr Wilfred April
WINDHOEK - I believe that behind every successful person there is always an interesting story to tell.
I have always been interested in how long and hard entrepreneurs work before they make their business ventures and ideas a reality.
To understand this issue better, I decided to conduct a face-to-face interview with one of the most successful, but very humble entrepreneurs in Namibia: Tate David Namalenga. Born in 1966, in Okathitu and raised in the Tsandi district, since childhood Namalenga always aspired to do something for himself and for his people.
From Grade 1 to 3 he was an excellent if not a brilliant learner, but when he went to Onankolo for Grade 4 he failed twice. He was a persistent and brave young man and after numerous attempts he managed to pass.
It was at that tender age that Namalenga learned that the road to success is never easy. Being a very strong learner, he was denied the opportunity for admission to Grade 7, as some of the teachers believed that he was a below averaged learner and would never make it in life.
Time again and again Namalenga told himself that he was never going to allow anyone to write his script for him, he was destined to be a star and no-one was going to take that away from him.
Although he was denied admission to Grade 7 initially, he managed to complete it with a C-aggregate and became one of the pioneer students who started the Shikongo Ipinge Secondary School with grade 8 in 1985.
It was then that this outstanding entrepreneur learned to be competitive. As the first secondary school learners at the school, students were encouraged to compete with each other so that they could become only the best.
In addition there were numerous rewards that they could possibly not resist.
Being a free-spirited and brave young man he is, Namalenga was fighting bad education and was mobilizing with other students to fight the system at the Mweshipandeka Secondary School in 1988.
This was another turning point in his life, he could sadly not finish grade 11 and Tate Namalenga mobilized with a friend and came to Windhoek for the very first time. His friend had a couple of acquaintances who wanted two young energetic people for employment.
The condition was his friend had to find someone who was competent in English. He was right there when the opportunity knocked. For a minute, Namalenga thought, life was going to be awesome, but sadly his friend that secured them the job was fired first. Soon afterwards as usual, he started to mobilise the workers about issues pertaining to employment rights and was fired.
Left in the dark, as a result of unemployment he decided to sell beer and interesting enough one of his loyal clients was an employee at Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino Namibia.
It was not long and he landed himself a job as a cleaner at Kalahari Sands. While he was a cleaner, Namalenga applied at the Tsumis Agricultural College near Rehoboth; however he did not managed to get a place.
Earning Rand295that time, he decided to enroll at Jakob Morenga School and completed his grade 12.
Thereafter he enrolled for Public Administration at the Polytechnic of Namibia for evening classes. Throughout his interesting life journey, Namalenga kept his cleaning job, and was determined to complete his studies.
He learned his perseverance and persistence from his late father who never worked for anyone in his life. His father used to buy cattle and sell to his community. They used the donkey cart that was a very prominent mode of transport to sell building material used for building traditional huts in northern Namibia.
His father taught him to always finish what he started. This mindset enabled Namalenga, not to remain as a cleaner at Kalahari Sands, but was promoted to being a night auditor, and eventually he landed himself a job with Roads Contractors Company (RCC) in the early 2000’s.
Namalenga worked his way up as an individual and he tried to secure a place for himself in this world, a speech from the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma caught him. One line he carries to date with him from that speech is: Namibians have the capacity to create opportunities for their own people. Soon after this catching phrase, Ramatex was closed and this was another turning point for Namalenga.
He was not employed at Ramatex but he felt for his people, and the beginning of 2009 saw the birth of an amazing enterprise Dinapama Manufacturing and Supplies which is situated near the Oshakati service in Wanaheda, which he manages to date.
This organization manufactures clothes, bags as well as provides embroidery and printing services. Being an entrepreneur gives Namalenga numerous challenges, but is a working environment which he enjoys and treasures each minute. Dinapama Manufacturing and Supplies shows strong awareness and appreciation for products produced locally in Namibia and this young company is determined to compete with higher quality products across the globe.
Namalenga does not only devote a tremendous amount of time to his own business venture, but he strongly believes in giving back to the community. He has been involved in groundbreaking leadership initiatives such as the UNAM MALTAS CLUB as a sponsor (also Maltas Official Clothing line designer) and patron of the Helvi Kondombolo Combined School in the north.
That is what working for a purpose or a cause is all about. Making each minute of the day count. What is so significant and inspirational about Namalenga’s story? Although there are a number of inspirational and similar stories out there, this case once again reminds us that Namibia is in need of job creators and not job seekers and we as citizens should by all means try to get out of our comfort zones.
We should by all means strive to set up our own enterprises, add value to them so that we have initiatives that will last in the long haul, and not die out too soon. Folks Tate Namalenga has done it and believe me he is not ending anytime soon, what we waiting for? Join him or risk being left behind. What an inspirational son of the soil?