Not waiting for opportunity to come knocking, this young man instead searched for it and as a result today owns a construction company. New Era’s Tender Reporter Steven Klukowski speaks to the sole owner of Nelson Investments cc, Nelson Elago, on what it is that drives him.
New Era (Q): How long has Nelson Investments cc been in existence and how big is the company’s workforce? If possible, please tell us about the gender composition in your workforce.
Nelson Elago (A): My company has been in business for three years and em¡ploys 15 Namibians – all of them male.
Q: Tell us about the shareholding or ownership of the business?
A: I am the (100% shareholder) sole owner of this business.
Q: What business is your company involved in?
A: Nelson Investments’ core business is construction and renovation of buildings.
Q: Being a three-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?
A: The process involved to obtain these documents can sometimes be delayed if you do not make use of an agent to expedite it.
Q: What is your view regarding the frequent reporting about ‘tenderpreneurship’ and the association of the term with corruption in the tender process and what can be done to address it?
A: Corruption in today’s life is an evil. It can force young and upcoming entrepreneurs like us to exit the tender and procurement business, as we do not have the resources to ‘wash another person’s hand’ in order to get jobs. It furthermore promotes criminal activities. At the end of the day, the person without experience and skills will get the job as a result of favouritism and nepotism. It is difficult to fight corruption solely and therefore government (lawmakers) should, as a matter of urgency, address this burning issue.
Q: 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?
A: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can benefit when forming these joint ventures with big foreign companies that can mentor them. In this way, more experience and skills can be transferred to unskilled Namibians. As time progresses, the Namibian partner should become the majority shareholder and take on future big tenders on their own.
Q: What programmes are in place in terms of skills development and capacity building of employees at your company?
A: I normally take in trainees on rotational basis from vocational training centres for job attachments for them to gain more experience and practical skills.
Q: What is your company’s view on giving back to the community?
A: At this stage my company cannot plough back to the community but will definitely do so in the near future.
Q: What is the rate of success of your company’s output regarding tenders being awarded to you?
A: Nelson Investments cc has not been awarded any government tenders yet. We are more involved in sub-contracting work from bigger companies or doing jobs for private clients.
Q: Do your employees belong to a pension fund and medical aid scheme, and if not in which way are they assisted in this regard?
A: All employees are registered with the Social Security Commission and will furthermore be provided with medical aid and pension benefits at a later stage.
Q: How well equipped are your employees when it comes to occupational health and safety at the workplace?
A: As we are operating in the construction industry, all employees are provided with safety boots, hand gloves, overalls and helmets. Basic first-aid kits are furthermore installed at construction sites, as another standard safety measure.
Q: Any innovative ideas/own initiatives that you might have tested before that you want to share with the readers?
A: Yes, after finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration last year and out of own initiative, I explored the construction industry to secure employment rather than waiting first to graduate and then starting to look for a decent job.
Q: Anything else you want to mention?
A: My message to the youth out there is sweet and short: believe in yourself, follow your heart, work hard, dream big and grow rich.