ERONGO Marine managing director, Martha Uumati is happy with the progress of the Fish-4-Business project that was started by the company in rural areas two years ago.
The programme aims at promoting fish consumption in villages, while offering food security to many poor and elderly people in the rural areas.
The Fish-4-Business project also aims at supporting small businesses in rural Namibia through empowerment and skills development. Existing shop owners were given the opportunity to grow their businesses while creating and sustaining jobs through the promotion of local fish consumption.
The first Fish Shop was started at Onandjila Village in the Omusati region and is run by Taimi Amukwaya. Five other shops followed a year later, as part of the "Fish-4-Business Challenge 2016" at Oshikushomunkete Village (Oshikuku area), Elondo (Tsandi area), Rosh Pinah, Vyfrandkamp (Okahandja) and Rundu.
Uumati, who recently visited the shops, commended shop owners on their commitment in successfully running their businesses.
"As a corporate social development project, the Fish-4-Business concept has shown tremendous success with most of the fish shop owners showing expansion and new business innovation. It is great to see that the Fish-4-Business project is succeeding in its objectives of ensuring that fish shops contribute positively towards food security in rural areas of Namibia," said Uumati.
Some shop owners have gone extra miles by developing mobile units, with which they are servicing other communities that cannot reach the shops easily, while others have expanded their business by opening additional fish shops in new locations.
Except for Fish Shop No 1, which was launched as a concept shop, all other fish shop owners were selected through a strenuous application process, the "Fish-4-Business Challenge", conducted in 2016.
The successful applicants received a total investment of N$300 000 from Erongo Marine for their shops, which included a walk-in cold storage unit erected on-site, in-store display fridges, improvements to the existing shop which included re-painting and branding, as well as start-up frozen horse mackerel stock.
Etosha Fishing also made a donation of its locally canned horse mackerel product, Efuta Maasbanker. Fish shop owners currently purchase their fish stock from Erongo Marine at a subsidised price.
In addition, each shop owner was given the opportunity to undergo specialised SME business training provided by SMEs Compete, a consultancy that specialises in assisting small and medium enterprises in growing their business.
"My business is rely doing well in the village. I own the only fish shop in the area and I supply three villages of about five hundred people. The older people are especially fond of fish. They keep saying that they are tired of eating meat. This is a great way of promoting health. It is going so well that the shop sometimes runs out of stock and we have to re-stock fast," says Evi Maria Nakanyala from Tsandi area.
Erastus Tuloyeni Amenya, who owns Shop 2 at Rosh Pinah, says he is grateful for the business opportunity, noting that people from the Rosh Pinah area constantly flock to his shop for fish.
"I have only been in operation for about one year but everything is going well. The communities in and around Rosh Pinah were yearning for fish. You find some supermarkets selling fish but they do not have the variety that we have and ours is cheaper because Erongo Marine transports it to us at a cheaper cost. Some of the customers come from paces like Aussenkehr to buy truckloads of fish.
Although the company does not have plans to open new fish shops, it will continue its focus on making a success of the existing shops, enabling its owners to grow their respective businesses.
Erongo Marine has also identified opportunities for the existing shops to increase sales and will continue to work with and support shop owners to ensure the long-term success of the project.