By Desie Heita
Chinese businesses have been at the receiving end, especially from local retailers and the construction industry who blame Chinese firms for, among others, killing the local markets with inferior quality products, as well as disregarding the laws in tendering for construction contracts.
Perceptions aside, nevertheless, the presence of Chinese products presents a window of many opportunities to consumers and those with an entrepreneurial spirit, says the consumer watchdog, Consumer News.
In an economy under pressure from rising inflation and high prices, the Oriental Plaza shopping centre and the China Town in the Northern Industrial Area of Windhoek are shopping malls that provide affordable prices to consumers. For entrepreneurs, they represent moneymaking opportunities.
“It provides an alternative and affordable choice to consumers. How many of us are able to buy clothes on hire purchase or to afford a N$100 pair of shoes?” said Henry Pote, of Consumer News.
The two shopping centres are overflowing with anything imaginable from blankets, clothes and shoes to furniture, solar panels and 220-volt diesel generators, with a mere N$2 000 price tag.
An equivalent generator would cost not less than N$6 000 from a conventional shop.
Consumers fill to the brim the 30-something odd shops in China Town, each consumer in a quest to find bargains. In the Home Textile Factory stall, which stocks bedding and curtains, a young Angolan entrepreneur was placing orders for boxes of curtains. His plan is to resell the merchandise bought at a premium.
Two gentlemen from Hakahana settlement, on the other hand, came to China Town to purchase suits.
Understandably, they declined to have their pictures taken or their names published.
The entrepreneur says his customers would not buy his merchandise if they are to learn that he actually does not import his products, as he lies to the clients, but buys the products from China Town.
The two gentlemen are afraid they would be laughed at for wearing N$300 suits from China Town.
“But what can we do, unlike you we cannot afford a N$1 000 suit,” they said.
Pote said part of the market attitude towards Chinese products is based on the perception that any product from China is inferior.
“However, today many products are manufactured in China.
“Not all products made in China are of low quality,” said Pote, before adding that the issue of quality products is something that the Chinese companies ought to address themselves.