Unemployment and poverty are just two socio-economic challenges that impede human progress. Not having the means to purchase essential goods such as food, can impede an individual’s dignity. Two aspiring Namibian entrepreneurs from different backgrounds, decided to fight being unemployed; to change their state of affairs. Their story, which shares similar paths and circumstances, is one of perseverance.
Katutura residents David Mupandeki and Toivo Lukas, who are both 36-years-old, have a few goals in common; not only are they aspiring entrepreneurs, but they are also individuals who want to offer fulltime employment to others. In pursuit of this, they have already started to pave the way to make their dreams a reality.
Mupandeki is a qualified electrician who also specialises in carpentry and owns a homebased tuck shop. His goal is to become a millionaire. “I like to share my skills and resources with others,” he said.
Apart from owning a barber shop, Lukas, who is a qualified welder, operates and owns a welding workshop. “Repairing refrigerators is another one of my business ventures,” said Lukas. His business partner, 23-year-old Fillipus Iyambo, said that he has learned a lot from Lukas and he is thankful that after he failed grade ten, Lukas gave him hope at a time when his future looked bleak.
The other trait that Mupandeki and Lukas share, is the fact that both came to Windhoek in search of jobs. The journey tested their characters to the limit.
Mupandeki was born in Oshikango and later relocated to Oshigambo Village in the Oshikoto region, in northern Namibia. In 2004, due to a lack of employment opportunities, Mupandeki decided to move to Windhoek with the hope of finding a job that will support him, his family and help to fund further studies.
Lukas is originally from Omaku village, Omusati Region. In 2005, he also moved to Windhoek in search opportunities similar to Mupandeki’s.
When Mupandeki and Lukas arrived in Windhoek, what greeted them was not what they expected. Jobs were scarce. Despite this, they kept on hoping and the situation seemed to change when they acquired odd temporary jobs by standing on the side of the road.
Unemployed, Mupandeki and Lukas were desperate for a breakthrough. In 2007, Lukas saw a glimmer of hope when he was referred by a friend to join MSR, a non-profit welfare organisation. In 2010, Mupandeki joined MSR.
Registered in 2007 with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, MSR is determined to fight the high unemployment rate and the increasing number of school drop-outs in Namibia. It currently has 1 461 registered members who are given access to various life skills training programmes. It also assists both its male and female members by enrolling them at accredited training institutions – paying their tuition fees in full.
MSR has two branches; one in Windhoek and the other in Swakopmund. Certificates and membership cards are awarded to members who complete training in Life Skills and Money Management workshops. It also facilitates the connection between potential employers via its job placements initiative. Last year, 98 members found part-time job placements and 26 were successfully placed in full-time jobs. At the same time, 78 members were successfully trained in various skills focused on disciplines such as construction, automotive mechanic, home management, education and entrepreneurship.
While at MSR, Mupandeki and Lukas grabbed the opportunities presented to them. After completing his electrical installation training at KAYEC, Mupandeki then got a full time job as electrical installer. A few months later, he acquired a six-month job at a retail shop as a control and receiving manager. After that he started his own business. Mupandeki added that he has learned a lot at MSR especially from its money management courses.
Similarly Lukas underwent money management and life skills training at MSR. In 2010, he participated in a welding and fabrication training course offered by KAYEC, also paid for by MSR. In 2011, he successfully completed a welding and fabrication programme at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre. He went on to graduate in 2013.
“Mupandeki and Lukas made use of the opportunities we offered them and this has resulted in them being the business minded individuals they are today. We are proud to have contributed to their success,” said MSR’s Windhoek office Manager, Hilya Kambanda.
Both Mupandeki and Lukas said that they plan on expanding their businesses countrywide. They thanked MSR for giving them a stepping stone to fulfilling their dreams.
The only challenge that the two are currently facing is lack of capital to purchase adequate operating machinery. They said that this will however not deter their plans of expanding and employing others.
The two agreed that the youth should make use of any opportunity presented to them. “Do not wait for government to assist you, let them find you half way,” they advised.
Anyone looking for gardeners, plumbers, house cleaners, Mupandeki and Lukas’ services or any other job, can contact MSR directly at Tel: 061 305 892 or visit their website at www.msr.org.na.