WINDHOEK – Vna Native Foods, the relatively young business that last week walked away with the one-million-dollar prize at the Development Bank of Namibia’s 2018 Innovation Awards, is determined to become a household brand in the country. Owner and founder of Vna Native Foods, 24-year old Valde Leonard, who was born in Outapi and raised in Aus, has urged Namibian youth and tertiary institution graduates to empower themselves through reading to identify opportunities, particularly in the current challenging economic climate.
During an exclusive interview with this reporter, Leonard explained that he completed his secondary education at PK De Villiers Secondary School in Keetmanshoop in 2012. Afterwards he was admitted to the University of Namibia in 2013 in the field of Para-vet studies. In 2016, he completed his tertiary level and worked for the Windhoek Animal Hospital for a year and resigned in January 2018, as it was time to pursue his dream.
During his studies, the idea of starting his own business surfaced. As his studies exposed him to the Ministry of Agriculture, he decided to approach another angle in the sector. Leonard figured that since the meat market is already established, he decided to enter the food sub-sector and started Vna Native Foods, which is named after his three African names, “V” for Valde, “n” for Ndapwilwa and “a” for Akumanga.
He added that the aim of the company is to add value to indigenous Namibian food which is commercially viable to be sold in local markets such as African spinach, mopani worms, and indigenous wild fruits.
Leonard admitted that challenges in starting the business included lack of funds and qualified individuals to pursue the dream. As an entrepreneur, he applied for some loans and was rejected by some commercial banks but never gave up.
“Our production process will commence in January, after planting and harvesting in rural areas, before the products will be sold in local markets such as at Woerman Brock where we have finalised a contract,” said Leonard.
However, he anticipates that more funding will be required for machinery, education, empowerment and training plus equipment they will use for the company. Leonard concluded that Vna’s corporate social includes contract farming for rural women who will be compensated for their produce.