Swakopmund-Ambitious SME entrepreneur Heinrich Hafeni is currently in the process of negotiating with Swakopmund Municipality for a large portion of land to establish the first boutique hotel and traditional restaurant in Mondesa ‘township’, estimated to cost N$15 million.
The former chairperson of the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) Swakopmund branch, who held the seat for two years, is the owner of Hafeni Tourism Group which he built up over the past six years from humble beginnings. He is now moving in a new direction within the tourism industry.
He says he has a passion for the service industry and was recently inspired when he saw how black tourism entrepreneurs in South Africa are flourishing in the townships by promoting their grassroots lifestyle.
During the last special management meeting, the council agreed to sell 3,000 sq meters of land to Hafeni Tourism Group, as the newly created erf has been re-zoned to business status.
Hafeni, who is still in the negotiating stages with council on final figures, hopes all the paperwork will be done by the end of the year to facilitate commencement of the building process as early as January 2018.
The 34-year-old Hafeni told New Era there are no accommodation facilities in Mondesa for tourists wanting to spend a night in the township. And that his international clientele would like to be put up in an authentic, yet safe and well-managed establishment.
He hopes that once his hotel gets off the ground it will offer something unique to tourists, whilst improving the lifestyle of the local people in the area.
He also said that with a culture of drugs, alcohol and unemployment gripping the youth in Mondesa, he wants to create jobs for the youth, provide SME opportunities and use local resources to help uplift the standard of Mondesa for international visitors and the community.
“We have plenty of historic architecture and many sightseeing attractions at the coast, but for the tourist who has flown in from the other side of the world, they also want to embrace our African culture, which is what I plan to provide with my new development.
“Architect plans have already been drawn up, and I hope to build a double story hotel with 25 rooms, and an outstanding traditional restaurant, with bar, pool table as well as conferencing facilities.
“I want to attract the overseas market and introduce them to our culture and our food in combining a first-world experience rooted in true to feel African township setting,” said Hefani, who started his journey in business six years ago with no resources, by renting taxis to conduct township tours. He still runs an admin office from his grandmother’s house in Mondesa.
“This will be a three-year project completed in stages, with the first ten rooms going up together with the restaurant,” he added, saying that through this process he wants to create a centre/academy to equip young people in the community with leadership and entrepreneurship skills, as well as provide free Wi-fi access and a youth-friendly atmosphere.
In fact, Hafeni was among nine young leaders from Namibia to attend a leadership scholarship programme in Germany in 2013. Two years later he was selected from a handful of young Namibians to be part of President Barack Obama Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders programme. That same year he was inducted as a laureate of the Namibia Business Hall of Fame.
“Like everyone, I have always wanted land, not to build a house, but a business so that I can help shape the economy,” he said.