TWENTY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Sandra Mwiihangele has been recognised as a star entrepreneur on the African continent by Forbes Africa magazine.
The young entrepreneur told The Namibian in an interview on Monday that she was honoured and humbled to have made it onto Forbes Africa's '30 under 30' list this year. She is the only Namibian on the list.
Forbes Africa said it spent months hunting for '30 under 30' entrepreneurs busy building businesses, creating jobs and transforming Africa. The annual list exposes the young stars on the horizon.
Forbes Africa, a South Africa-based entrepreneurship focused magazine, in the stable of US-based Forbes Media, on Monday revealed the '30 under 30' list in its latest issue.
Forbes Africa's Ancillar Mangena, who worked on the list, told The Namibian yesterday that this year's list features more women, including Namibia's own Mwiihangele.
"She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, yet she didn't let it get to her head, but rather used it as a motivation to build her own brand. Also, she didn't let her stutter stand in the way of achieving her goals.
Sandra is a go-getter, making her mark in the tough manufacturing industry," Mangena noted.
An excited Mwiihangele said the Forbes Africa recognition was definitely a dream come true, especially because her business is only two years old.
She said this recognition added to her growing list of accolades, and that she was extremely grateful.
Mwiihangele is a qualified cosmetic chemist who owns KiyomiSandz, a cosmetics and toiletry products manufacturing business, which she says was still growing.
There's always a lot more work to be done when building a business, she added.
She said she was working on implementing an exciting and innovative marketing strategy around her Summer Rain Collection products.
Her products are available through Medicine World pharmacies, and will soon be in Spar stores in Windhoek.
"I've also just completed developing a wonderful Summer Rain Collection of products, tailor-made for the hospitality and tourism industry, consisting of a shampoo, hair conditioner, body lotion and body wash," she beamed.
Apart from KiyomiSandz, Mwiihangele is also chairperson of the new cosmetics sector steering committee of the trade ministry, in conjunction with GIZ, since earlier this year.
The committee is tasked with addressing issues affecting the growth of the Namibian cosmetics products manufacturing sector.
"Developing a cosmetics industrial growth plan will lead to the improvement of this vital industry, whereby it can greatly contribute to the advancement of our country's economy, especially resulting in increased employment and the exporting of our proudly Namibian products," she stated.
Mwiihangele said her recognition by Forbes Africa showed what young Namibian entrepreneurs could achieve.
"This prestigious listing adds more credibility to the products I manufacture, and to the third-party manufacturing services which my business currently offers. Being the first Namibian to make it onto this coveted list also shines a light on Namibia overall by showing the rest of the world that the youth in Namibia, who start innovative businesses, are indeed investable [sic], and that we have what it takes to become successful and internationally recognised," she said.
Mwiihangele said she intends to grow KiyomiSandz into an exporting enterprise, and to employ more people.
Mwiihangele has advice for young Namibians with entrepreneurial dreams.
"If you fully comprehend the field you want to start your business in and how you are going to execute your goals, then you are already halfway to achieving your overall business vision and mission," she said.
She added that young Namibians should remain focused and not let others block their entrepreneurial journey, or their personal growth.
"I always write down my goals, step by step, based on what I have visualised. From there, I start executing each written step, day by day, until I have accomplished what I have set my heart and mind to."
She said personal belief was compulsory as no one else knew one's potential and capabilities like the individual themselves.
"Therefore, you have to learn to develop a brave, strong and kind character, filled with perseverance and determination. No matter how old you are, always trust the process of your chosen journey and keep growing, learning, dreaming and moving forward," she advised.
Mangena, who calls the '30 under 30' finalists her "babies", stated that she spent months studying them, looking into their lives and businesses.
"We have been communicating back and forth, and I have a lot of faith in their potential. Like a mother, I will always offer support where I can so that they can one day be on the cover of Forbes Africa magazine, meaning they will be worth more than US$200 million. These are the bright shining stars in Africa. You may not know their names now, but you will be forced to in a few years," she said. According to a Forbes Africa article on the nomination process and criteria to make the '30 under 30' list, from January this year, candidates "must be entrepreneurs who have built businesses that employ at least 7 people. Preferably, the companies they have built should be generating revenues of at least US$100 000, and be profitable. But if they are yet to break even, the entrepreneur must have created a viable product or service that's filling a critical need and achieving reasonable traction with tremendous prospects. And the entrepreneurs must be ethical and socially responsible individuals, because entrepreneurs must help not just themselves, but the communities that enable them to prosper".