By John Travolter Matali
GROOTFONTEIN – Smiling Hengua, 37, is a self-employed businesswoman and the proud owner of Smiling Trading Enterprises at Grootfontein.
Hengua has urged other women to step out of their shells and venture into gainful business.
Started in 2007, Hengua’s business has seen its fair share of glamour and success and it has raked in a several awards over a seven-year period.
Smiling Trading Enterprises won first place at the Okakarara Trade Fair in 2011 for best sewing and tailoring, while more success was enjoyed in 2011 and 2012 when the business came second at the Grootfontein Show.
Hengua has proved herself a worthy adversary in the business world and her business is a force to be reckoned with. In addition to the aforementioned achievements, she also scooped bronze and gold medals at the Okakarara Trade Fair.
“I liked sewing from an early age and in 2000 received training at the ministry of youth on how to start your own business. After that I struggled and eventually managed to raise enough money to start my business,” said the happily married Hengua. In its earlier days the business only hired two workers but the number has since doubled.
According to Hengua the biggest obstacle she faced was to raise capital to start her dream business but she got help and support from her husband, as well as the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, which donated the much needed machinery.
She also secured funds needed to breathe life into her business.
Smiling Trading Enterprises offers a variety of products ranging from curtains, bedsets, toilet sets, pillows, kitchen sets to aprons, traditional dresses and decorations.
The most popular items purchased by customers are traditional attire and toilet and kitchen sets. The business also does alterations to garments such as shorts, trousers, shirts, T-shirts, jackets and suits.
Like every business owner Hengua plans to expand her business in future.
“I want to expand my business – that way I can create jobs for fellow Namibians and do my part in making our country a better place. I urge all women out there to start their own business – it is not easy but it is possible,” Hengua said.
Smiling Trading Enterprises currently has four full-time employees – all women – however the big- hearted Hengua always has room for interns and trainees who are constantly coming from the Okakarara Vocational Training Institute to do their job attachments with her.
“Business is good, the only problem I have is customers failing to pay their accounts as many tend to take the products on lay-by,” Hengua said.