Selma Nampila is an example of a really disadvantaged Namibian. She was born 42 years ago in the village Ehwalyatulu in the Oshikoto region.
Her mother passed away when she was in grade one. Since then, she has been suffering and only met her father when she was in grade 10. Selma stated: "I have been making women bennies/hats from old used clothes material with my own hands and my own initiative. I didn't get any training on this it was my own knowledge. These bennies/hats I used to sell to my community women, so that I could get money to buy my school shoes and other school needs."
In 1998 after failing grade 10, Selma decided to go for sewing training which she could not afford. She had to continue to survive with simple manual sewing until 2004 when she attended a three months training in Walvis Bay.
Thereafter, she started a micro business in Havana with seed capital of N$500 from her father for material and a manual sewing machine bought by her sister.
"This was for me a real step forward" Selma said "I felt already being an entrepreneur, but I realised soon that I had no idea how to run and control a business," she said.
She got from the Namibia Youth Credit Scheme a first loan of N$2000 and thereafter, another one of N$4000, amounts that she has since repaid on time. With her savings, she bought a place in Havana with a separate shack for production but without electricity.
The limited demand and high competition did not keep her busy full time.
However, Selma felt already that she is advantaged compared to her poor neighbours and therefore has a social responsibility. She took part in several trainings such as positive parenting, gender based violence, and helped the local community.
Selma stated: "The breakthrough started end of 2017. I applied for an entrepreneurship training programme for SMEs in Katutura conducted by DECOSA in cooperation with Team Namibia and sponsored by the Finnish Embassy. In contrast to my expectations, I was selected with 20 others out of 400 applicants. I learnt during the two years programme proper management of my business including marketing, costing/pricing and organisation. I registered my business in 2018 and prepared a business plan with the assistance of my trainer and mentor. It was even more important that I learnt to develop new business ideas."
Since last year, Nampila is not only producing clothes of special design for the highly competitive market in Katutura, but she also specialized on repairs and alterations for the high-end market all over Windhoek.
"I realised a lot of people don't have the time or don't want to repair their clothes. That was my chance," Selma explained. She drives by taxi to the customers discusses their expectations and latest after two days brings the items back. For this target group she is now not only repairing clothes but also other items and even entered the diplomatic community in Windhoek.
Selma's business became really successful last year but suffered still on the lack of electricity in Havana. She planned to install solar power to further increase her production and services with an electrical machine provided by a sponsor.
However, similar to numerous SMEs she could not get a loan due to lack of collateral. Now even this only remaining problem has been solved. Based on her extraordinary performances she received a solar power sponsored by Standard Bank.
"With comprehensive training and mentoring every micro and small Namibian entrepreneur can improve. Neither the age nor the educational background are important, but the motivation, trust to make it and willingness to work hard are important. Selma Nampila is one of the most positive examples.
Without electricity and located in remote area of Katutura she never complained or gave up. From the 20 participants of the programme (including entrepreneurs with university degrees) she was the most successful regarding commitment, know-how transfer and organisation. She is a real entrepreneur!"
Selma Nampila can be contacted at Nampila S. Tailoring & Design CC
081-203 4064 or at email@example.com
*Prof Rainer Trede is the Managing Member of Development Consultants for Southern Africa CC