As a mechanical engineering student this young guy once entered a logo design competition. After winning the competition and delivering the required needs he realised that this was what he wanted to do all along and like the saying goes, the rest is history. New Era spoke to Joshua Kaukungwa, director and sole owner of Hieroglyphics, to probe more on the road he walked from that day.
New Era (NE): Hieroglyphics, what a strange name for a company, where does it come from?
Joshua Kaukungwa (JK): Just as we use letters in our alphabet, the ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphics. In the dictionary this word is referred to as picture writing and that is exactly what our company does, we are using pictures to communicate with people.
NE: How long has Hieroglyphics been in existence, how big is your workforce and how is it split along gender lines?
JK: Hieroglyphics was established in 2003 and has a staff component of 10 permanent employees of whom three are female and seven are male.
NE: Tell us about the shareholding or ownership of this business?
JK: I own the business 100%, but will consider a partnership in the future.
NE: What is your core business?
JK: Our core business involves graphic design and printing. In addition we have interests in construction, mining and import/export sectors.
NE: How good does Hieroglyphics interpret and manage competition in the market?
JK: Competition is healthy in an open economy such as in Namibia. It keeps you always focused. I continuously strive to be innovative in my approach by creating impactful products that enhance branding, finding effective alternatives to meeting client budgets and developing solutions to meet tight deadlines. We always try to under-promise and over-deliver.
NE: What is the rate of success of your company’s output with regard to tenders/projects being awarded?
JK: Hieroglyphics is doing fairly well in terms of receiving government printing and graphic design tenders, but we also have private clients.
NE: Being a 13-year-old company, what challenges are you experiencing when applying for/renewing required, mandatory good-standing (tax, social security, company registration, etc.) documents?
JK: I always make sure to be in good standing as far as statutory requirements are concerned. My administration department, headed by Fenny Kamosho, always ensures that our mandatory documents are up to date and fully paid up with all relevant government ministries and agencies.
NE: What program/interventions did you put in place in terms of skills development/capacity building/personal growth with regard to your employees?
JK: All new employees are subject to an induction/internship training program and we are constantly capacitating employees in order to keep abreast with the latest trends in our field of specialisation.
NE: Corruption is thriving these days in almost every sector of the procurement/tender industry. What is your view on this and how can it be controlled best?
JK: Corruption is like a cancer and needs to be immediately done away with. My business dealings with public and private sector clients is always above board. I do not entertain “kickbacks” in order to get business as an entrepreneur. An independent committee should be established as a matter of priority to oversee the tender/procurement processes and make fair and equal recommendations accordingly.
NE: It is a common trend that Namibians are forming joint ventures with foreign companies. How do you regard this as a fellow Namibian and how best can our local people and country at large benefit from these joint ventures?
JK: I have no problem with joint ventures providing opportunities to Namibians who lacked financial resources and/or skills to compete in the procurement industry. There should however be provisions in place for skills transfer and fair distribution of wealth to Namibians.
NE: What is your company’s view on giving back to the community/social responsibility?
JK: We regard our social responsibilities as an integral part of our long-term business growth plans. Examples to attest to this include, among others, /Aȅ//Gams Arts and Cultural Festival in 2005, Felesiana Nauwake Trust Fund in 2007, Okathitu Combined School in 2009 and a bursary to a Namibian student to the tune of N$25 000.
NE: Do your employees belong to a pension fund, Social Security Commission and medical aid scheme, and if not what measures are in place to address it?
JK: As required by law all employees are registered with the Social Security Commission. In addition to this they are receiving a total-cost-to-company remuneration package with the individual option to purchase medical aid and pension benefits.
NE: How best is your workforce equipped when it comes to occupational health and safety at their workplace?
JK: Hieroglyphics does comply with the required occupational health and safety standards at the workplace, as per legislation.
NE: Anything else that you perhaps want to mention for our readers?
JK: Yes, I’d like to encourage the youth to exercise financial intelligence when dealing with money, investing it for the future. Upcoming tenderers should rather reinvest their profits in order to ensure economic stability for their companies. Lastly I want to thank my loving wife, Loini Kaukungwa, for all the support and encouragement she provided me since the inception of the company by providing emotional support during the start-up phase. We also need to support the new government in its drive to eradicate poverty.