“Growing up from a poor background moving back to the north with my parents and moving back to the city was never easy as a child. Went through varsity with very little resources at my disposal and being at a higher institution was never easy. All these difficulties I went through in my life made me a stronger person. As a believer and a Christian, I have always put God first in whatever I did and that helped me a lot in terms of where I am today.”
Says Silva Shapwa (26), born in Windhoek and growing up in the northern part of the country in Onhuno in the Ohangwena region with his parents. For Grade 6 he moved to Okahandja where he completed his primary school. “When I was in primary school I would walk to school, which was ten kilometres away. I never took bread to school, because there was none, I never took even 20 cents to school because there was none, my trousers were torn and my shoes were small and worn out but I had no choice but to go to school,” reminisces Shapwa.
After completing his primary school, he moved to Windhoek were he enrolled at the Concordia College staying in the hostel for five years. “I was struggling a lot to make ends meet. I used to walk to Wanaheda just for out weekends as there was no taxi money. I never had food in the hostel, yes I had both my parents but remember they were paying my school fees, hostel fees, and also helping out my siblings at that point in time.”
Inspired by his unenviable situation, all Shapwa desired was to concentrate on his studies and improve this situation. He managed to successfully obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2012 from the Polytechnic of Namibia, even though his dream was to study medicine at the University of Namibia (Unam) but because of circumstances beyond his control his plans did not work out. Shapwa got his first job in 2010 as an intern at EMCON Consulting Engineers in Klein Windhoek, and when he graduated in 2012 employed permanently. “I was lucky to get this job because at that time there were not so many posts or vacancies available and I opted to work as a volunteer.”
One of Shapwa’s biggest visions was always to become an entrepreneur. “I always wanted to be a boss one day, and to employ people in my company or organisation. I was very determined like most people; I wanted to do it like everybody else. If A did it why not me, that’s always my motto.”
With determination, Shapwa decided to start his small business titled Sasha Investment with various sections such as Sasha Printing Services, which focuses on general paper printing, scan, fax, mail, internet café, posters, business logo design, graphic design, posters, flyers, t-shirts, mugs, caps and plate embroidery services amongst others. Sasha Engineering services, that focuses on designs of houses, landscaping designs, gardening, construction and renovation etc. And Sasha Catering Services focusing on one day events like conferences, weddings, birthday parties and confirmations. Sasha Media & Advertising scripting and designing radio and TV advertisements. Sasha Car Wash and Sasha Tutoring Services offering part-time tutoring and helping learners with assignments like Grade 5-7 Mathematics, Grade 10-12 Mathematics and other science subjects.
“When I started this business like I said, money was never the motivation or the whole issue, I just wanted to do something extra, and like I said I wanted to be my own boss. I was also told you don’t need money to start a business. I never believed [it] I thought it was impossible to start a business without money, but then I learned it was true. When I look back at how I actually started my business I realised I started it with zero capital. I would have spent N$5000 to get training on how to print T-shirts and mugs and cups, etc. but I learned all by myself, I never got any training or lessons from anybody.”
Despite having little resources, Shapwa’s business have been able to sponsor organisations such as Special Olympics Namibia as well as NAMSU which deals with gender based violence.
Shapwa is a Mechanical Engineer by profession. He is also currently running a non-profit organisation called Sasha Charity and Care Foundation, cater for vulnerable children and orphans across the country. He encourages the youth to make use of the country’s resources to explore their potential. “Never sit down and expect somebody to put bread on the table for you. We are all very lucky to be young and have an opportunity to be these generations were technology is growing rapidly. Use this opportunity and make yourself a better person, weather your parents are rich or poor, black or white, go out there and do something that inspires not only you but others. There are so many resources in this county that one can explore, why not do it. It starts with a dream, then a vision, a will, efforts and determination to be successful, put those together and you can conquer the world.”