WINDHOEK – When a tourist from abroad suggested Dina Namubes (middle-aged) open a bed and breakfast in Swakopmund’s Mondesa neighbourhood, the seed for African View Accommodation was planted.
The tourist thought that visitors would like to get an authentic taste of the lives of ordinary people and the kaleidoscope of cultures in the township. Namubes worked at the National Marine Aquarium, when the visitor invited her to take her around town and neighbourhood for sightseeing.
“My father, who was a successful businessman taught me not to depend on employment only but to do something extra for a better living,” says Namubes, who still works fulltime as personal assistant to the chief operations officer at Swakop Uranium.
She runs the business in partnership with her husband Melvin Namubeb.
Names say a lot about one’s business and products, so “I realised that people from all over the world like Africa more and more and are coming to Namibia to enjoy the quietness, beauty and open landscapes,” says Namubes.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) contribute approximately 12 percent to the Namibian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually. Approximately 33 000 Namibian SMEs provide over 160 000 jobs.
In many ways, African View Accommodation provides a perfect template for small business owners.
In 2008, their business consisted of a single room that they offered to tourists. They now have seven rooms, offer shuttle services between the Swakopmund Airport and the town on request, and ferry guests around on sightseeing tours. However, this service has not received a lot of interest over the years, as many tourists prefer moving around unaccompanied.
They describe African View Accommodation as an affordable bed and breakfast / self-catering home located in Swakopmund and say it is a very peaceful and friendly home. Accommodation is offered in comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms.
Namibia as a popular destination for international tourists, welcomed over 1,57 million foreign tourists in 2016 an increase of 3,6 percent from 1,51 million arrivals in 2015.
At the launch of the fifth edition of the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) in January this year, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta said the outlook for the sector looks positive and generated N$7,6 billion in 2015. The industry contributed N$5,2 billion directly to GDP and N$15,1 billion to the broader economy.
The tourism industry was responsible for 14,5 percent of Namibia’s total employment. The sector directly supported 44 700 direct jobs, and 100 700 indirect jobs. Shifeta further stated that in 2020, tourism-related value addition is expected to reach N$26,4 billion (11,7 percent of overall GDP), and employment generation is likely to be above 123 000 jobs (16,4 percent of total employment).
But the industry is not without its challenges. Namubes list public and private spending cuts for travel and conferences as one of the issues now affecting the sector.
“However, we are still surviving from our repeating customers, those getting to the coast for functions, funerals and simply those who feel like booking at our place as a getaway for the weekend. Also, local people book our breath taking venue for meetings and functions,” she said.
Namubes is full of praise for Nedbank Namibia, describing it as one of the best experiences in her business life, even though she did not approach a bank for a loan to start her business.
Nelson Simasiku, the Head of SME Business at Nedbank Namibia says access to finance or funding alone is not sufficient for the growth and development of the SME sector and Nedbank goes above and beyond by offering a suite of services and value-added solutions to enable SMEs to grow faster, easier and more effectively.
Those value-added services provided by Nedbank include practical mentorship, small business seminars, short-term insurance and financial planning.
“We have five employees and proud that we put something on the table for someone. This helps in decreasing unemployment rate and helps fighting poverty in Namibia,” said a beaming Namubes.
As African View Accommodation grows and blossoms as a business in Namibia’s holiday Mecca, Swakopmund, the Namubeb family is building a campsite near Namibia’s first World Heritage Site, Twyfelfontein, in the Kunene Region.