• August 13th, 2020

From muffins to low-cost housing

Prof R. Rainer Trede

Leena Haivera is a 24-year-old female entrepreneur from Windhoek. The last article about successful entrepreneurs from Katutura I dedicate to her as an example that even really disadvantaged Namibians can make it independently of their background and drawbacks in business ventures that is if they are passionate and optimistic about their businesses. 

Ups and downs
Leena is the only child of a single mother, who initially had a small stand selling fruit and vegetables in Katutura for her survival. She started already in grade 10 to produce and sell chips, muffins and Russians to help her mother with taxi fare to school and to contribute to the small income of her mother. This gave Leena a first feeling what is entrepreneurship. 

In 2014 she enrolled to study hairdressing but did not manage to go through the final exams because of the lack of funds.  She then started working for a salon and later became a manager there. In August 2015 she opened her own salon in Windhoek North renting in the backyard of someone. However, this business failed because of her limited knowledge regarding business management in particular financial management and marketing. But she did not give up to realise her dreams to become an entrepreneur. Therefore, she worked for a small company as assistant office administrator. Not only to gain some income, but - even more importantly - she  wanted to learn how to run her own business, which is easier to observe in a small than in a larger company since even an assistant office administrator gets insights of most of the business.  

In addition, she started to learn from books and from the internet as much as possible about running a business. As result she was the best of all participants in my training programme, even better than the few trainees with academic education. 

Haivera explained: “Since school I always wanted to become an entrepreneur. Hence at work I was always restless, because I felt I could do more than just an 08h00 to 17h00 job. This drive led me to leave my job in March 2017 and explore business opportunities. I started the production of perfumes on a full-time basis. Still restless and searching for more business ideas, I founded a salon in November 2017. Since the competition is very tough, I decided to add something special, which was selling the perfumes as a retailer from the salon and in addition providing unemployed people with larger quantities to sell on their own, and thus gaining some income for survival.”

This business was first growing but stagnated with the economic slowdown in Namibia already before the coronavirus crisis. Since perfumes are a luxury product did not show any further growth prospects, she started exploring other business options. Finally she selected muffins. During the training and mentoring programme, conducted by my company, DECOSA, in cooperation with Team Namibia and sponsored by the Finnish Embassy, I asked her: “Why did you select muffins? They are produced at every road in Katutura. You have to face enormous competition.” She responded: “Prof., you are right, but I have learnt from you that marketing is as important, if not more important than production. I have a new marketing concept targeting the Central Business District of Windhoek.” Indeed her sales did grow continuously, but the profit was a major drawback; it was very limited. She elaborated: “Luckily I learnt during the training also cost and price calculation. Although I did not like this topic, it rescued my business. I could not increase my prices, but I found out that my personal drawings were too high. I reduced them considerably.” Thereafter, the business was really growing.”

She started to bake muffins from 15h00 until 03h00 the next morning in order to have sufficient quantities by 08h00 to be sold by her and a team of eight sales people.

She married Bartolomeus Haivera who works for NDF as a pilot in Grootfontein. She stated: “On the one hand love and happiness are more important than financial income and on the other hand I was sure I will identify new business opportunities also in the small town of Grootfontein.” 

She started to offer training to micro businesses. The interest was huge but the people did not want or could not pay for it. Thus she started to sell nail products and offers nail training. 
The profit she invested in muffin production and since the corona crisis in sanitizers with value addition. Now after living over one year in Grootfontein the business is really running again. 

Low cost housing
Despite her current success Haivera is still restless, not really satisfied. She was always dreaming to find more socially oriented business options. Already in 2015 she identified the need for low cost housing, since 40 percent of Namibians live in shacks. 
She studied over three years the production of really low cost houses from containers and stayed for 3 months in Cape Town where such houses are fairly common. An implementable concept and a bankable business plan are available. These houses offered in two sizes (1 bedroom or 2 bedrooms) are really affordable with about 30 percent of the prices of low-cost houses offered by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE). The houses shall replace shacks with their advantages of having separate rooms they are safe and have the advantage of mobility.  

Considering the huge number of people, who work in Windhoek coming from the North. When they are going back home they can take their house with from Katutura on a low bed truck. 
This project is fully in line with the priorities of the Government, by improvement of housing, helping disadvantaged people, development of manufacturing SMEs with value addition and empowerment of Namibian female entrepreneurs.

Lessons to be drawn from her
Although our training and mentoring programme has been finalized I am still assisting Leena Haivera since I believe in low-cost housing and in her entrepreneurial drive.  Every micro entrepreneur could learn from her. Always research your business ideas carefully, don’t expect immediate success, when the business starts to make profit limit your personal drawings to a minimum and invest the profit in your business and most importantly never give up even not after experiencing some setbacks.
Leena Haivera can be contacted at 081-8805317 or alexandraleena95@gmal.com

*Prof Dr. Rainer Trede is the Managing  Member of Development Consultants for  Southern Africa (DECOSA) CC. 
He is reachable under

Staff Reporter
2020-05-14 09:44:28 | 2 months ago

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