Youths Make Inroads in Informal Sector

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By Charles Tjatindi

WINDHOEK

A young man points as he directs cars driving into the car wash premises…

“This way, this way please. Thank you, thank you… Do you want the full car wash package…?”

The driver, most probably left with a few choices, nods and his car is whizzed away to the washing space under a large net. Another young person approaches the driver and politely invites him to take a seat in a shaded area seemingly reserved for this purpose. On a typical day, another young person – this time a woman, would approach the driver and offer a cool drink at a nominal fee.

This is the setting at self-made young entrepreneur Scara Kajau’s business premises. He runs a car wash business at Katutura’s Mungunda Street, next to the Jacob Marengo School.

Kajau is among many youths that are slowly making inroads in the local business market. Faced with the hardships of unemployment and having to feed themselves, many of them have now turned to business to earn the much-needed income. Most of them are operating anything from barbershops to small grocers.

As with all good things however, most of these youth’s efforts came through toil and sweat. Kajau bears testimony to this.

Back in 1995, the name Scara Kajau would have probably gone unnoticed, but 12 years down the line, he has comfortably established himself as a prominent young businessman. Never in his wildest dreams could he have known that his one-man barbershop in Katutura’s Soweto Market would one day turn out to be his main source of income.

“When I opened the barbershop, it was just to keep myself busy. I never knew I could actually make a living out of it,” Kajau fondly remembers.

After saving a few dollars from his business, Kajau opened doors to his second salon in 2000, in one of the busiest business complexes – the Wernhil Park Shopping Complex. That was just the beginning of a string of salons and barbershops that followed soon afterwards.

“I started realising the potential of this type of business. Soon I found myself opening two more barbershops after the one at Wernhill [Park],” said Kajau.
Kajau soon found a new business niche, and extended his business interest to car wash late last year.

“I approached the City of Windhoek for a plot to do my business from. I got the plot, and have since been operating from here,” related the young entrepreneur.

Another young man whose determination to earn a living at any cost encouraged him into business is 24-year-old Eckard Rukoro.

In Rukoro’s case, it was the old adage that “in every challenge lies opportunities”, that motivated him to open a shoe making business. Rukoro sadly remembers how illness forced him out of formal school back in 2004, after having missed most of the year’s work.

“I was in and out of hospital for most of that year. Sometimes I would stay three whole months or more in hospital. My schoolwork suffered as a result. I could not return to school, as I had missed most of the work for that year,” Rukoro relates.

He, instead, opted for a vocational training centre, where he studied leatherworks. It was this course that motivated him even more that he can do something to provide for himself. These ambitions paid off late in the same year, when he opened his shoe production business – the Star Shoe Production and Leather goods.

“I manufacture bible covers, reins, leather shoes, and do general shoe repairs,” said Rukoro.

Unlike Kajau, who employs about 15 people at his various businesses, Rukoro runs a one-man business.

“This type of business requires skills and passion. Not anyone would be able to gain satisfaction from it,” he remarked, noting that once his business grows, he would be in a position to provide training to others who want to venture into this field.

For many young aspiring business people, it has been a long and tiring road to reach their ultimate ambitions. Many have had to sacrifice a lot of things in order to achieve their business aspirations.

“I had to do away with most of my friends, as they were always negative and derailing me my business goals,” related Rukoro.

“As a young person, some friends will encourage you, others will discourage you. You have to choose them wisely,” added Kajau, who recently married now gets business assistance from his wife.

Back at Kajau’s car wash business, the seemingly satisfied customer gets up from under the shade where he had been enjoying a decently prepared meal of beef stew and pap, and smiles as he comfortably positions himself in the driver’s seat. Smelling the fresh aroma inside the recently washed vehicle, he gently tips the car wash attendant and makes off.

“That is definitely one satisfied customer,” boasts Kajau as he bids goodbye to his new client. “He will be coming back for more – I can just tell.”

One thing that is for sure, though, is that both these young men believe that nothing is impossible if one puts their mind to it, or perhaps in the words of another famous adage ‘the Sky is the limit”.

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