WINDHOEK - With Namibia’s role as a logistics hub in the southern Africa region becoming more apparent, business and job opportunities increased exponentially in Namibia’s harbours and transport sector. Andreas Armas of Andreas Armas Stevedoring CC and Misty Bay CC says he runs successful businesses in this tough sector.
“I started my stevedoring company in 2004, a year after I resigned from Cadilu Fishing. Since I had experience in the fishing industry and there were opportunities at fishing factories I decided to open my company to create job opportunities for the young people in Namibia to meet the government halfway,” says Armas. Stevedoring is the act or practice of loading or unloading a ship’s cargo.
Armas, who hails from Omaalala village in the Oshana Region, employs 185 people, 80 percent of who are formerly disadvantaged youth.
“Job creation is very important and is the main objective for my company,” says Armas.
He describes himself as results-driven, saying, “I am experienced in leading and growing all sectors of a business to make it a dynamic and progressive organisation. Namibia wants to become a leader in logistics and distribution in southern Africa and has identified logistics as an economic priority.”
He added that Namibia has started to establish itself as the logistics hub for the southern Africa region with the expansion of the Walvis Bay harbour and investment in upgrading and growing road infrastructure all over the country. In addition, as a hub, Namibia is expected to gain appeal from global investors.
The geographical location, superior transport and communications networks and growing port infrastructure give Namibia an advantage over competitors.
Business people like Walvis Bay-based Armas, who also transports cargo, are important cogs in this machine. However, it is not all plain sailing, especially if you start from scratch.
“At the start, capital was a major issue. We are still facing some challenges. The market is full and a lot of competitors are still penetrating the market. The resources are scarce and you might not always have enough funds to extend the business by adding new equipment,” says Armas.
He says he relied on his “excellent communication skills” to establish sustainable and profitable relationships with customers, suppliers, local partners such as Nedbank and even stakeholders across the world.
“Organising and planning is second nature to me and I take great pride in the details of tasks,” says Armas who recently started learning new languages.
“I won clients by delivering on time. This helped me to gain more funds, which I ploughed back into the business,” he says.
The businessman, who enjoys playing golf, sponsors an annual tournament at Ondangwa and relishes the interaction with the youth. Armas encourages young Namibians to participate in business activities and to take it seriously.
He says they shouldn’t only aim to enrich themselves but they must try and create job opportunities to reduce the country’s unemployment rate and to help eradicate poverty.
Having worked with Nedbank Namibia for 25 years, Armas only has plaudits for the bank. Nelson Simasiku, the head of SME Business at Nedbank Namibia says SME’s are a prime engine for economic growth and employment creation. “Our approach in working with SMEs goes beyond new products, services and processes, our SME approach streamlines a future looking growth strategy which includes mentorship, seminars and financial planning solutions to add value to business owners who are pushing to remain relevant in the market.” Says Simasiku.