Heinrich Hafeni Nghidipaya is a young entrepreneur who never allowed himself to view temporary setbacks as failures.
Born 33 years ago in Walvis Bay but now residing in the tourism town of Swakopmund’s Mondesa township, Nghidipaya is the Executive Chairman and Founder of Hafeni Tours and Travel. He owns a local Traditional Restaurant in the coastal town of Swakopmund one of the ventures that have made him an emerging young Tourism entrepreneur he is today, specialising in cultural Community Based Tourism.
The first born of five siblings, Ngidipaya was raised by his single mother, a domestic worker, and his grandmother. As he was growing up, he became increasingly impressed and inspired by his mother who had little formal education but big business minded. She taught him that an uneducated person still become someone in life. Nghidipaya educational journey was not that impressive failing Grade 10 with 14 points but this did not discourage him to continue studying, persevering to improve his points through the Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol). His Grade 12 was as much no plain sailing affair falling short of the necessary point to enter results were also not enough for him to apply at the university. The option was short business courses. He says doing short courses led him where he is today.
At the tender age of 28, Hafeni founded the Hafeni Tours and Travel, a company that specialises in cultural tours helping groups of visitors experience the richness of Namibia’s culture. They interact with children at local schools and with men and women in clubs, restaurants and markets in townships. Travelling throughout 14 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa Nghidipaya interacted with people from all over the world through his work and came to realise that he wanted to pursue the dream of starting his own business.
Through his free time, he realised that there were other paths forward. When rejected initially by the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme at first, he determined to apply again. In 2015, Hafeni was one of only nine young leaders selected to represent Namibia as a 2015 Mandela Washington fellow together with 24 other young leaders from 17 African countries. They were hosted by the University of Clark Atlanta in Georgia in the United States (US), where they completed an Entrepreneurship and Business programme. His experience with the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme was transformative. He realised that he was not alone in his vision of peace, poverty eradication, job creation and good governance. During the programme, he was moved by his opportunity at the end of his six-weeks of training to hear President Barack Obama speak in Washington about how he believed in Africa’s young leaders. The Presidential Summit also helped him to see himself not only as a Namibian, but as an African with friends and connections to hundreds of others across the continent like-minded.
He is co-founder of the Swakopmund Youth with a Vision (SWYV), Chairman of the Local Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and Treasurer of the SWAPO Youth League (SPYL) in his district as well as a member of the Constituency Development Committee (CDC) in Erongo region.