Alvine Kapitako Windhoek-Serving jail time did not deter 43-year-old Kennedy Kanguvi from becoming the best that he can be. Kanguvi was released from prison in 2008 after serving time for theft of a motor vehicle. The ex-soldier knew he had to venture into business when he realised that he was refused employment because of his criminal record. “I applied for jobs and they asked for my criminal record and I never got called back for work,” he said from his home in Katutura where he runs a small business. While in prison, Kanguvi was part of an ‘entrepreneurial and business skills training programme’, for which he received certificates upon completion. When he was released from prison, Kanguvi only managed to secure informal jobs here and there, but that was not enough to sustain his family. That is when he decided to use some of his savings from the money he earned from informal jobs to start a business. “I wanted to do something that was not very common among the Ovaherero people. So, I thought of selling fat cakes. If you look around, you, will see that there are very few Ovaherero men who do this business. When I started, I was among the very few,” related Kanguvi. Before that, he had a tuckshop where he sold onions, sweets, and spices in Herero location. But that did not last long and he decided to divert all his attention towards selling fat cakes for N$1, as well as chips which he sells for N$10 per portion. “The fat cakes are very cheap but do not underestimate those N$1s when you count them. At the end of the day, it’s more than what you would expect,” said Kanguvi. He is affectionately known as Dr Vet Koek in his location. He gave himself this name because he claims to be among the first man in his area to embark upon such a business. “I make the best fat cakes and I take pride in that,” Kanguvi said with a sense of pride. Also, he is known for the cheap fat cakes he sells and the fact that he makes them himself, passionately interacting with his customers, while also giving free fat cakes to homeless and vulnerable people in that area. He has five people working for him. “Some assist me to count stock and to make sure that the money we spend on stock correlates with the income. Two are responsible for selling and are divided in two shifts,” said Kanguvi. His shop closes at 23H00 daily. “There are obstacles but I do not allow that to hinder the growth of my business,” added Kanguvi, who has eight dependents, including his mother. At one time, he had to prepare his fat cakes and chips at an open area while looking for a place to do business. “There was a time when my stock was stolen at night while we were sleeping,” he added. Kanguvi sells his food from a shack erected at the house where he rents. “They broke the shack and took everything. But the thought of giving up has not crossed my mind, no matter how difficult things get,” said Kanguvi. At one point, one of his long-serving employees decided to stop working for him when days were dark. “But she came back when things got better and we have been working together for three years without her leaving. Every employee is paid N$1 300, Kanguvi added. Furthermore, Kanguvi said young people should not give up on their dreams or wait for handouts. “I’m a middle-aged man and I have noticed that Government does not necessarily focus on us when it comes to employment creation, it’s mostly young people,” he said. As a result, he believes: “We have to give life our outmost best. It does not mean because someone is an ex-convict they cannot make something positive out of their life.” Kanguvi said relatives and friends abandoned him because they thought he would not amount to anything, as an ex-convict. This attitude, he said, has potential to destroy ex-convicts and push them to do the very things that led them to prison. “To us the Ovaherero people, if you are a convicted criminal you are regarded as meaningless because you brought shame on the family name,” said Kanguvi. But he stressed that this should not deter people from becoming the best versions of themselves. “Today, there are people who look up to me. I not only assist my family financially but I also have a social responsibility to people with handicaps. I give them free fat cakes and chips every day because I feel sorry for them,” said Kanguvi, who believes his business will only continue to flourish.
2017-10-05 09:53:52 11 months ago