Veterans of the liberation struggle, successfully running their businesses in the form of individual veterans projects (IVPs), are encouraging those advocating for their IVPs to be paid in cash instead of funding the business models of their choice, to think about their immediate families and surrounding communities, whom they said will greatly benefit from the IVPs once they have taken root.
Fifty-nine-year-old structural engineer Gabes Tangi Muteka is the proprietor of Oshinitolipo Concrete, a brickmaking business in Gobabis in Omaheke region.
Currently he employs seven workers aged between 24 and 64 years.
Oshinitolipo Concrete is a joint venture between three veterans funded through Veterans Affairs’ IVP programme in 2012, which supplies building blocks of all shapes and sizes to individuals and construction businesses at the town.
Muteka says veterans awaiting the funding of their IVPs should rather concentrate on coming up with tangible business ideas that will in the long run sustain them and their immediate families instead of advocating for cash payments of their IVPs.
“Government has made the right decision to fund IVPs. Money being paid out in cash is a problem and is a short-sighted idea. In my opinion, it is rather better for Veterans Affairs to procure materials and equipment for veterans to run businesses,” he said.
“This is not only good for one’s sake in terms of financial growth, but veterans through the running of their IVPs can equally contribute to the growth of the Namibian economy, while at the same time creating employment,” Muteka added.
Echoing similar sentiments, the husband and wife team of Leonard and Elizabeth Mutota successfully run a bakery in Tsandi, Omusati region through their establishment Ice Age Commodity Trading.
They have a staff complement of five, of whom two are women.
In full production, their IVP produces and supplies about 6 000 loaves of bread per week to a number of government schools, businesses and individuals in the region.
Through Veterans Affairs, the retired couple, who merged their IVPs into one, procured ovens, bread cutters and other supplementary equipment necessary to run a bakery.
“At least with this material we can work and source a means of income to supplement our household. People handle money differently, however I’m still convinced that government has made a prudent decision to fund equipment and materials for IVPs. Money doesn’t guarantee success,” said Leonard Mutota
Another veteran making a living from her project is Elizabeth Shalonga, the owner of a mixed farming project outside Otjiwarongo.
Initially funded as a poultry project in 2014, the business has steadily grown to include cattle, sheep and pigs as well as a vegetable garden. Employing five young men, the former Namibian Defence Force (NDF) member says she sustains herself and her family from the project by means of selling live and packaged chicken, pig carcasses and vegetables from her small plot.
Expressing her gratitude, Shalonga said her IVP has liberated her to work hard to determine her own destiny. She urged veterans to think beyond money and to instead venture into business to supplement their income.
“Getting material for a project is much easier than receiving cash as it leads to tangible results, depending on whether you have the will to work and succeed. If one cannot handle a small business, how long will N$200 000 last?” Shalonga asked.
Shalonga urged other government institutions such as the ministries of land reform; agriculture; and trade and industrialisation to come on board and assist veterans running their IVPs.
“I need the water points on my plot to be rehabilitated and I’m also in need of equipment such as a bigger incubator for my chickens. Such equipment is expensive, hence my call for other government institutions to also assist us where they can,” Shalonga said.
Any registered veteran qualifies for funding of a project of his/her choice up to a maximum of N$200 000. The process of applying for an IVP entails the veteran to draft a viable business plan of his/her choice, which is then scrutinised by the Veterans Board before it is approved and subsequently funded.