WINDHOEK – Situated in the “shebeen street” of Katutura (Eveline Street) is LI Lodge, a typical tourist establishment. New Era’s Tender Reporter Steven Klukowski spoke to the sole owner Lamek Indongo on what inspired him to play such a wild card.
New Era (NE): What is it that made you decide to open such a luxurious place in an area well known for similar smaller business establishments like yours and how confident are you to succeed with this venture?
Lamek Indongo (LI): This idea was based on the intention of bringing exclusive services closer and available to people at grass-root level. Because of the virtue of observing the frequency of different classes of customers visiting my recently opened business, I am positive that I made a good investment.
NE: How long has LI Lodge been in existence and how big is the workforce? If possible please tell us about the gender composition in the workforce.
LI: I am in business now for two months and have eight Namibian employees, two of whom are male and six female.
NE: Tell us about the shareholding or ownership of the business?
LI: I am the sole (100%) owner of this business.
NE: What business is your company involved in?
LI: LI Lodge specializes in the hospitality/tourism industry. The first phase of development consists of a bar and restaurant of which only the bar is operational now and we are furthermore busy developing phase 2, specifically for accommodation purposes.
NE: Being a four-year old company, what challenges are you experiencing when applying for standard mandatory, good standing certificates at Inland Revenue, Social Security, Trade and Industry, etc.?
LI: I do not experience any problems to obtain these documents.
NE: What is your view with regard to the frequent reporting about ‘tenderpreneurship’ and the association of the phrase with corruption in the tender process and what can be done to address it?
LI: Corruption in the tender process is a very bad thing since it denies small companies possible opportunities to grow. Tender board(s) should be more transparent when awarding tenders and not first look at who you are/related to before making these decisions. If you met the requirements you should get an equal opportunity with other tenderers.
NE: Some Namibian companies are increasingly entering into joint ventures with foreign companies. How, in your view, can Namibians benefit out of these joint ventures in terms of employment opportunities and sharing of wealth?
LI: Since these foreign companies are investing the bigger chunk of money needed for such joint ventures they are expecting the majority percentage shareholding and profit in return. Financial institutions should however consider assisting these small guys more regularly in order for them to obtain more or the majority percentage of shareholding in these joint ventures. This will prevent some of these financially strong companies from forming joint ventures with small Namibian companies only for the purpose of raking in almost all profits made at the end of the day. Skills should furthermore be transferred to unskilled Namibians since this does not happen most of the time.
NE: What programmes are in place in terms of skills development and capacity building of employees at your company?
LI: I am sending my employees on a rotation base to hospitality tourism training institutions in order to upgrade and capacitate them better for the future.
NE: What is your company’s view on giving back to the community?
LI: My company has previously assisted some students financially with their studies and also sponsored kids playing street soccer with equipment and sportswear.
NE: What is the rate of success of your company’s output with regard to tenders being awarded to you?
LI: I am not really involved in the tendering/procurement process and currently concentrating more on growing and expanding my business.
NE: Do your employees belong to a pension fund and medical aid scheme, and if not in which way are they assisted in this regard?
LI: All employees are registered with the Social Security Commission and will at a later stage receive medical aid and pension benefits as the company grows.
NE: How well equipped are your employees when it comes to occupational health and safety at the workplace?
LI: As we are operating in a hospitality/tourism environment, fire extinguishers are strategically placed and employees will be equipped with gloves and related hygienic items once the restaurant becomes fully operational.
NE: Any innovative ideas/own initiatives that you might have tested before that you want to share with the readers?
LI: Yes, I visited a lot of bars/shebeens in Katutura/Khomasdal and observed a shortage of tap beer (draught beer) in them. It is more available in bars/pubs in the city and its surrounding ‘posh” suburbs. Changing this challenge into an opportunity, I can now proudly announce that LI Lodge is one of the few, if not the only bar selling tap beer (draught beer) in Katutura/Khomasdal.
NE: Anything else you want to mention?
LI: Yes, I want to encourage my fellow Namibians to investigate opportunities out there and make full use of them. Furthermore I want to appeal to financial institutions to consider relaxing their stringent requirements before assisting upcoming entrepreneurs in order to help them to become self-sustainable and in the process shift some of the government’s moral obligations. My plea is to Namibian business owners to first build and expand their companies before buying unnecessary luxuries they desire rather than need.