15 January 2013

Namibia: From Desperate Job Hunter to Business Owner, Employer

For years Apollonia Jakundeni Ndjukuma criss-crossed the country hunting for employment opportunities, wherever she could.

After many years of searching her hopes of ever finding employment were starting to falter. However, when she looked at how much she had already sacrificed in order to land a job, she vowed to herself never to give up on her quest.

Instead of resigning herself to a life of misery and unemployment, Ndjukuma's thoughts went into entrepreneurial overdrive. She realised that instead of looking for a job she should rather concentrate on acquiring a skill that would allow her to work for herself.

After undergoing training in needlework, Ndjukuma decided to establish her own business in 2009 at Grootfontein called Apollo Design and Tailoring. Now after only four years the business employs two full-time dressmakers, and churns out various fashionable clothing items, including traditional designs on order. Today, the 29-year old Ndjukuma is not only making a living from the business she started four years ago, but the thought of looking for employment has been erased from her mind permanently.

"My life is not just different, but so much better. I am independent and I rely solely on myself. I pay my own rent and do not have to be living under someone's roof," she says smilingly.

Apollo Design and Tailoring designs all types of attire from formal to traditional designs, as well as wedding gowns and other fashionable items on request. The industrious Ndjukuma admits that it was the high unemployment rate that forced her to think deep on how she would survive. "I have been hunting for jobs countrywide for many years and finding employment did not work out, and so I decided to start my own sewing and design shop since I have a certificate in needlework," she noted.

Ndjukuma did not have a benefactor to rely on for seed capital or a bank loan. She used her little savings to buy her first sewing machine. Today her shop boasts five sewing machines.

She has attracted a diverse base of clients ranging from those looking for traditional outfits to those who prefer classy fashion designs for special occasions. The Namibian Defence Force base in the town supplies her with a constant stream of customers, with soldiers looking for fashionable clothes for when they are not in their uniforms or combat fatigues. Then there are school-going kids, whose clothes need constant mending.

"Before starting my own business my life was very hard and for that alone I hardly count any difficulties as insurmountable challenges. Even when business is low sometimes I still thank the Lord that I am able to buy bread for myself," she says.

Ndjukuma's advice to fellow youths is that "when you are not born into a rich family, do not feel sorry for yourself, but instead do everything you can to make it in life. People will at times treat you like garbage but that should not break your resolve."

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