While some entrepreneurs fail to get their business ideas off the ground, due to a lack of finances, a group of pharmacists did not allow this factor to hinder their dream of opening and operating a chain of pharmacies.
Wellington Ndaradzi, Aron Emuno and Pedzisai Changunda used their savings and funds from family and friends, to open their business in 2010.
They founded WAP Pharmacare, with the acronym representing the initials of their first names.
All three partners are qualified pharmacists, registered with the Pharmacy Council of Namibia, under the Health Professions Councils of Namibia. This is a legal requirement to run and operate a pharmacy in Namibia.
Emuno, who is the majority shareholder, said, although they took a gamble to resign from their full-time jobs, they were confident that their business was going to succeed, as there was a demand for pharmaceutical services across the country. “We wanted to help out the community as they were travelling long distances to get medicine. This is an unhealthy situation, because the timely availability of medical products and services can be a matter of life and death.”
The trio opened its first pharmacy, which is Northmed Pharmacy in Ondangwa, followed by Northcare Pharmacy in Oshakati by the end of 2010.
The three approached Bank Windhoek ESME Finance Branch to assist them with their cash flow and to finance the purchasing of stock. They continued to expand to other towns and the company now owns six branches, which are WAP Pharmacy in Outapi, Northcare Pharmacy in Oshakati, Northway Pharmacy in Okahao, Northmed Pharmacy in Ondangwa, Khomasdal Pharmacy in Khomasdal and Tinsel Pharmacy in Katutura, Windhoek.
They currently employ 55 permanent staff members.
Emuno encouraged the youth to take up careers in pharmacy, as there is a shortage of pharmacists in the country. “One of challenges we faced when we were recruiting staff was finding skilled staff, especially pharmacists who need to advise patients on the right medication for their ailments. Pharmacists also perform basic medical tests, such as blood pressure tests and more. I, therefore, encourage the youth to study pharmacy because it is a diverse field with many career opportunities. Pharmacists can choose to work in public hospitals and clinics, private/retail pharmacies, manufacturing, research and development, distribution of medical products and in academia.”
WAP Pharmacare plans to establish a manufacturing plant to produce medical products locally, as there is a need for Namibia to start manufacturing its own products and to stop relying on imports.
His advice to fellow SMEs is to be patient, dedicated and committed to their businesses and to continue investing in their employees, as they are the backbone of any company.
He also encouraged business owners to build healthy relationships with suppliers, customers and local, regional and national authorities.
Mbo Luvindao, Branch Manager of Bank Windhoek ESME Branch, said: “Bank Windhoek understands that funding is a big challenge for entrepreneurs. We, therefore, encourage entrepreneurs to contact us, as we are ready to receive business proposals. However, proposals will be assessed for their financial viability based on Bank Windhoek’s lending principles.”