Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

3 May 2012

Namibia: A Tribute to the Late Harold Pupkewitz

Photo: New era
The late Harold Pupkewitz.

The passing away of the Namibian Employer's Federation (NEF) Past-President, Mr Harold Pupkewitz, on Friday, 27 April 2012, represents the end of an era.

Uncle Harold, as he was affectionately known, by young and old hailed from a family of entrepreneurs with exceptional business acumen. Harold's contribution to the growth of our national economy over the decades has been astronomical. This was possible because of his hard and smart work ethic, his self-discipline and above all, a shrewd business brain that enabled him to steer an ordinary family general dealer into a billion-dollar trading giant with a national footprint.

Uncle Harold served as president of the NEF for a record nine years after which I had the distinct honour to step into his "big boots" as the leader of the employers' organisation. His tireless work on behalf of the Namibian employers will never be forgotten. Similarly, his contribution to the development of future corporate leaders for our country is forever assured with the creation of the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business at he Polytechnic of Namibia, which he funded with a N$10 million donation.

Harold was an entrepreneur par excellence, a gentle giant of Namibian business, a formidable business leader, a highly respected business personality and an exemplary role model for many business executives.

The Namibian private sector has lost one of its own, someone who could always speak out his mind - softly, respectfully but firmly!

A Jew by origin, Harold kept a close relationship with Israel, a country he admired and which he had hoped Namibia will seek to emulate as it grabbles with socio-economic challenges of our times. For him, Israel has always been a source of inspiration "... the tiny country with only 7.1 million people, no natural resources, enemies on every border and in a constant state of war - which produces more start-up companies than Japan, India, Korea, Canada and the United Kingdom ... Israel has more companies on the NASDAQ than Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, India and all of Europe combined!"

On a more personal note, thank you Uncle Harold, for giving me what Tom Brokaw called "a playbook for every CEO who wants to develop the next generation of corporate leaders". I am of course referring to the book entitled "Start-up Nation: The story of Israel's economic miracle" which Uncle Harold gave me early this year as my inheritance. I shall treasure it and its huge relevance as we continue to think, plan and ACT to bring about Namibia's renewal.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

President NEF

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