Believing that a tertiary qualification alone cannot guarantee one’s vision in life, this young and innovative gentleman decided to take the bull by the horns in starting Avant Catering Services. New Era’s Tender Reporter Steven Klukowski spoke to the majority shareholder, Trofius Nafuka, on what made him become an entrepreneur at such a young stage of his life.
New Era (NE): How long has Avant Catering Services been in existence and how big is the company workforce? If possible please tell us about the gender composition of your workforce.
Trofius Nafuka (TN): This is a relatively young company operating since February 2015. I have four employees of whom three are male.
NE: Tell us about the shareholding or ownership of the business?
TN: I own 70% of the shares with three other shareholders owning 10% each.
NE: What business is your company involved in?
TN: Avant Catering Services specializes in catering services, mainly supplying and delivering daily lunch packs to various companies in Windhoek.
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, etcetera?
TN: I applied for my company registration certificate, but believe all these processes are attached to waiting periods.
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?
TN: It is a bad thing, denying new, innovative entrepreneurs like us the opportunity to compete in the market. Favoritism and nepotism should not be applied in the award of tenders so that it can take place solely on merit.
NE: Some Namibian companies are increasingly entering into joint ventures with foreign companies. How, in your view, can Namibians benefit from these joint ventures in terms of employment opportunities and sharing of wealth?
TN: Firstly I believe that Namibians are only used as a “face” in these joint ventures. A continuous process of skills transfer should furthermore be implemented whereby the unskilled workforce should consist mainly of Namibians whilst only specialist foreign employees should be accommodated. In this way our brothers and sisters can in the long run take on big projects on their own own. Institutions like the Development Bank of Namibia should also, apart from granting loans, assist Namibians to buy in (get more shares) in joint ventures.
NE: What programmes are in place in terms of skills development and capacity building of employees at your company?
TN: As a new company this is one of the future agendas in our long-term strategic plan.
NE: What is your company’s view on giving back to the community?
TN: For starters we commit ourselves to give daily lunch packs to some vulnerable people on the streets, but this is only the beginning.
NE: What is the rate of success of your company’s output with regard to tenders being awarded to you?
TN: No tenders have been awarded yet to Avant Catering Services. At this stage we are concentrating on the workforce as our main source of income.
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?
TN: We are all registered with the Social Security Commission and will as our company grow look into medical aid and pension benefits.
NE: How well equipped are your employees when it comes to occupational health and safety at the workplace?
TN: Lunch packs are prepared in a hygienic, germ-free environment and we do comply with standard regulations applied to the catering service industry.
NE: Any innovative ideas you might have tested before that you want to share with the readers?
TN: As a student I realized one cannot wait for experience to come to you but you should rather build on it on your own whist studying, hence the idea struck me that there is a demand to provide lunch packs to working people far from food outlets and this is how I started my company.
NE: Anything else you want to mention?
TN: Yes I want to encourage my fellow Namibians out there to come on board the entrepreneurial sector so that we can become more self-sustainable. We should furthermore strive to fully commit ourselves to supply deliver more ‘proudly Namibian’ goods and services, not keep on accepting that our neighbours can do it for us.