WINDHOEK – Many local businesswomen cashed in on the opportunities provided by the just-ended World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF 2013) which took place at the Windhoek Country Club Resort. Namibia’s Indigenous Business Forum (IPBF) hosted the WIBF for the first time on African soil during October 16-18 with the aim to connect and share business experiences, ideas and economic initiatives. On Friday New Era caught up with some local businesswomen who were selling their products inside the hotel. Ester Musungu, who was with other Ovahimba businesswomen, said they travelled from Opuwo in the Kunene Region to come and sell their products in Windhoek. “We came all this way to come and sell our hand crafted products such as dolls, necklaces and bracelets. Since we arrived here on Wednesday business has been going very well here inside the hotel,” Musungu said.
The prices of their products range from N$50 to N$3000. According to her they order wood from the Kavango regions and sometimes local Ovahimba people also create wood carvings. “We need funding to help expand our businesses. We normally pay a lot of money to have our products transported from Kavango,” she said. Another local businesswoman, Peneyambeko Nghifinwa, who usually plies her merchandise in the city centre, said business has been good at the hotel. “Business is great compared to our spots in town. Here it is better because tourists are supporting us by buying our products. Our local people must also start supporting us and not just tourists,” she said. Her products range from bracelets, necklaces to wood carvings and cost anything from N$25 to N$1000. She also transports her merchandise, especially wood carvings from the Kavango and Zambezi regions. “Most of the time we get our products on credit and it is not viable, because we end up not making much profit. We need funding so we can buy our products cash. It is difficult for us to get loans from the banks, because we do not have collateral. We want to progress but the banks are asking for collateral. They must revisit their policies to include those without collateral, but want to progress. As of now my business is not growing fast enough,” Nghifinwa complained.
Selma Angolo, another vendor, said: “We are happy that we got a lot of customers during this forum,” adding that even though they make profit, they end up paying for the products that they took on credit. “We are pleading with the SME Bank to look into our plight and how we can be assisted as business people without collateral. For us, business is always booming when there are international events, but once they end, business is back to the usual – no customers scenario,” Angolo said. She sells handbags, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and t-shirts.
Bianca Efeno who also sells earrings and bracelets said business is going well at the hotel, adding that tourists are their biggest customers. Her products are priced between N$30 and N$9500 mostly for animal skins. “If we don’t get invited to such international events where tourists really support us, then business is normally slow. We want our local people to come out and support us and not just leave it up to the tourists,” she stressed.
By Albertina Nakale