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Resilience: Recession Lessons from a Namibian conglomerate

Sven Thieme’s grandfather, Werner List, founded Ohlthaver & List (O&L), the largest private-owned conglomerate in Namibia.

Ohlthaver & List, which has annual revenues of more than US$400 million and 6300 employees, owns Namibia Breweries Limited, the largest producer of beverages in the country.

Besides PnP, O&L’s other assets include Namibia Dairies, the country’s largest dairy company, and hotel group O&L Leisure Namibia among other companies.

“The O&L Group showed the best profits ever this time around, amid the recession. It shows that our culture is extremely resilient. Our resilience comes from our people, like Morkel.”

It is now 20 years that Angelo Morkel has been with Pick ‘n Pay (PnP) Namibia. Recruited as a grocery-packer straight from high school a few years after Namibia’s independence, Morkel thought he had seen it all in the retail industry where he has risen to regional manager.

Alas, an economy-crippling recession, a first for independent Namibia brought out not only the best for Morkel, but for Pick ‘n Pay and holding company, the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group.

“We were worried to learn that the Southern African franchise of PnP was retrenching about 3500 employees in RSA to reduce business costs amid a recession. Most employees in Namibia thought, if it could happen to South Africa, then the worst was to fall on Namibia,” he says.

With both countries’ economies in parallel, it has become an economic and political apparent that if South Africa catches a cold, Namibia would sneeze.

However, instead of the impending axe, Morkel was promoted to regional manager of Pick ‘n Pay Wernhil Park, right in the middle of the recession, and none of the retail outlet’s employees were sent home. Namibia like the rest of the southern African region is facing rather uncertain economic times.

Neighbouring South Africa is on a negative ratings-watch by agencies, to the north Angola, just like Botswana and Zambia to the eastern borders continue to be negatively impacted by low commodity prices.

But while the economic growth slowed down to around 2.5% in 2016 from a previous estimate of 4.3%, where government revenue hit a 9% low, negatively impacting the customer pocket, Sven Thieme, Executive Chairman of the O&L Group says the demand for grocery provisions has continued to grow.

“The O&L Group showed a great performance this time around, amid the recession. It shows that our business is extremely resilient. Our resilience comes from our people, like Morkel.

I am personally involved daily and monthly in the training of our people. About 50% of my daily job is driving leadership. Thinking ahead.

We have sectors that are closing around the country who did not think ahead regarding valuing their people as assets,” says Thieme, listed amongst Forbes top 5 richest Namibians of 2017.

“The group has managed to grow despite the economic recession. Small reason we never retrenched,” he says, adding, “Our import and export operations have been resilient to the exchange rate. Our products do not have to wait for anyone.

The secret lies in value addition. We brew beer, produce milk and related products, process fish, our retail is 38% processing from meat, bakery and other. In industries where we should have slumped amid the recession like the brewing industry, we remained stable, and now we are picking up gradually.

This because the O&L group has created within the economy, its own economy which balances itself.

And the greatest equator is the people.”

Recent estimates indicate that the O&L Group generates revenues contributing roughly 4 percent to Namibia’s GDP. The Group has business interests in food production, fishing, beverages, farming, retail trade, information technology, property leasing and development, renewable power generation, marine engineering, advertising and the leisure and hospitality industry.

He credits the success of the Group, which has won repeatedly the Deloitte Best Company to Work For Survey in Southern Africa, to the GAP International concept.

It was in 2009 when O&L engaged American consulting and diagnostics company, Gap International to facilitate accelerated business growth and for Thieme, that came with the improved dimensions of higher risk, huge purpose, shared goals, self-empowerment.

“We became a people first company. Customers second. This helped us weather the storm. In fact, it challenged us to achieve further breakthrough.

The Group’s improved financial performance reflects in large measure the encouraging progress over the past year in investing in its people where many of its rivals reduced cost through stronger financial controls.

Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) maintained its strong market position despite a strained local economy, challenges in export markets and declining consumer spending.

In their results for the half year ended 31 December 2016, Namibian, South African and export volumes increased by 1.1%, 33.1%, and 7.3% respectively. Revenue increased by 13.6% and operating profit was 6.5% higher than the comparative period.

But for Thieme, stronger financial controls are the smaller part of the puzzle, from both a business perspective and a national perspective. Calle Schlettwein, the Minister of Finance identified R5.5billion expenses that needed to be cut in the 2016/17 fiscal year where R1billion was re-allocated to urgent funding needs.

“I am worried about the national approach. The country has had little focus on value addition. The policies required to foster foreign direct investment have been in draft format since 2007. Only now do we see momentum.

Besides, corruption has been an acne. The tenders are allocated to suppliers who cannot deliver. By now, the amount of millions and billions lost to corruption should have gone to schools and hospitals for our people. We need to concentrate our efforts on poverty alleviation, tackling income inequality and achieving economic emancipation in earnest,” says Thieme.

With the South African economy expected to remain under pressure over the mid-term with 1.1% growth for the 2018/19 financial and 1.5% growth for the 2019/20, Thieme says a national economic resilience strategy has to be adopted.

He continues, “I applaud the new government measures where no expenses are being incurred without the approval by the Ministry of Finance. In fact, the new Procurement Act is key to a national resilience strategy.

There are indications that Namibia has survived the storm, but there are tougher measures that still need to be implemented if we have to adopt an economic resilience strategy. Not everyone will understand resilience. We need to create more policies, more value addition. Currently all the right things are being done but at a slow pace.”

Simonis Storm Securities has weighed in, “The Bank of Namibia cut interest rates by 25bps this year to 6,75%. Looking at the economic indicators, it is justifiable for Bank of Namibia to cut by another 25bps at its next meeting in December.

However, due to the current depreciation of the rand, we expect inflation to remain moderately high and interest rate cuts to be on hold both in South Africa and Namibia this year,” Simonis said.

In a surprise move, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Namibia’s long-term senior unsecured bond rating from Baa3 to Ba1 with a negative outlook. This is a non-investment grade or ‘junk’ status.

Moody’s cited an “erosion of Namibia’s fiscal strength” and alleged “increasing debt burden” as concerning. It also noted limited institutional capacity to manage possible shocks and to address long-term fiscal rigidities. Moody’s also saw a risk with the Namibian government’s liquidity.

Argues Thieme, “A number of factors led to the current economic climate. However, we are where we are and should refrain from being stuck in the past.

Let’s focus on the future and move forward towards creating a future we want for our children and generations to come by fighting corruption, being more disciplined and implementing better policies that would ultimately increase the speed of ease on doing business in Namibia.

We need to have a different sense of urgency and as a country, we should never lose the opportunity of a good crisis.”

As the lingering shocks from the longest and deepest recession since independence continue, Angelo Morkel has no qualms, no job losses, a promotion, another possible 20 years with the company, all become the fundamentals of an O&L system where instruments in its people have become the greater infrastructure for the technical recession shocks.

“Even in the darkest hour of our country’s economic survival, O&L was still recruiting, innovating and promoting,” Sven Thieme sums it up.

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The surge of Tulimeke Munyika

Since completing her attachment with Algade in France where she finalised her research paper on exposure to radio-protection, the graph of Tulimeke Munyika (TM) has transcended faster than she imagined.

A one-time chairperson of MTC, she still serves the country’s biggest corporates as director and was recently appointed as board member to the beleaguered Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). And for someone sitting in a dilapidated government building for the past 12 years, someone who has never worked in the Namibian private sector, her glittering stars caught our attention. Besides, she is just 33.

How do you describe your transition across the boardrooms of Namibia?

You make it sound like it’s a lot of boardrooms. Duh. With the new appointment as Director on NSFAF Board, I will now be serving on two boards. The transition between the two should be exciting, how can it not be?

Whilst the principles of governance remain the same, MTC and NSFAF have distinct missions and this requires that I equip myself with appropriate knowledge for each boardroom. I anticipate the transition to be one that involves considerable reading, which I am delighted to do.

But was it luck or sheer determination for you to be this high at an early age? We do not have so many women in corporate Namibia upper echelons.

It wasn’t luck, I don’t believe in luck. I believe in the favour of God. I also don’t think it was determination only. I have always been determined to do my best. While doing the best I can where I am, I was noticed and subsequently entrusted with additional responsibilities. That has been my recipe; to do the best I can.

I would in fact urge nominating and appointing authorities to be open-minded and be aware of the bigger Namibian environment, not only look at those who are already in the corporate world.

There are many capable women out there, some are in Government like me. Let’s look beyond what our eyes usually see.

But is your leadership and impact being felt?

I would be blowing my own horn now. I cannot measure it myself but I believe the impact is felt. One wouldn’t be entrusted with more (national) responsibilities, if they are not delivering on existing mandates. Maybe that is an indication that the impact is being felt.

Leadership and the intended impact need not be the type that changes the world at one go; we can change the world by impacting one person, one institution or one community at a time. It is about influence. That’s where we start and it’s not magical.

So what are your key priorities then, to ensure that you maintain your leadership in the industry?

Continuous education and willingness are key because they place me on “ready mode” to serve.

Maintaining leadership should be understood in the context that when we are appointed as directors we are called to serve and to act in the best interest of the organisation, not to just sit and look pretty. My key priority is one: continue sharpening myself.

From MTC to now, NSFAF, what form do your efforts take in leading change and how do you engage stakeholders in these efforts?

Change, positive change, can and should happen but ideally only after careful consideration of relevant information. Leading change should not be impulsive. I cannot over-emphasise continuous education. So, my efforts take the form of first equipping myself with knowledge (you can’t do without it).

My contribution is mainly done in the boardroom but not limited to the boardroom of course. There is always need for consultative engagements with relevant stakeholders to the business environment.

The mode and processes for consultations differ depending on the relationship with that stakeholder. You cannot leave stakeholders behind.

What are the distinct challenges in meeting your mandates in each of the Boards that you sit in on?

For MTC, it’s the technical nature of the industry and the fast pace at which technological innovation evolves. This is a challenge for me because of my background which is not ICT, but law.

You can only make a meaningful contribution in the boardroom if you are up to date with industry developments. So, I keep myself as updated as possible.

For NSFAF, time will tell.

Regulation. Would you say the communications sector is over-regulated or under regulated, particularly when you look at affordability and stable tariffs? Where is change needed?

Price and affordability of services, not just in the telecommunications sector but generally everywhere, will always be a topic of discussion, because they are relative terms. My view is that whatever the prices, customers must get good value for their money.

Of paramount importance in this eco-system is an independent and competent regulator which Namibia has to ensure there is proper regulation and sufficient protection to customers against exploitation.

How do you see the communications industry evolving towards 2030?

I foresee growth. Namibia must and will be in an up and forward direction but the growth will not happen accidentally. The national developmental goals are achievable but role-players in the industry must be intentional about realising that upward evolution.

This includes the necessary investment injections into necessary spheres. I am proud to be associated with MTC which is intentional about industry growth.

In the next 2 years for example MTC intends to expand network capacity to a tune of N$1.1 billion through the 081EVERY1 initiative. Telecommunications industry cannot thrive without quality network infrastructure.

In the Namibian space, I see more telecommunications operators – new ones and strengthened old ones. This is foreseeable because we have the ingredients to make the environment even more conducive. Yes, it is competition for MTC but it is good for the maturity of the industry and development of the country.

I personally want to see more Namibians embracing the available innovations in the market. Let’s embrace the digital world.

You have been an MTC board member for a considerable time, where will the growth come from for MTC, looking ahead?

The growth of MTC has always been centered around its customer-base. I anticipate it to remain so.

But where is the risk?

Competition in the market will be a risk looking ahead, but looking at the bigger picture its good for the market and it is an advantage for the customer.

Risk is not all bad because it can be managed and it pushes us to do better because there is always room for improvement. MTC will be sure to also evolve innovatively.

Tell Us one interesting fact that isn’t generally known about you?

There is generally nothing known about me so I will give you one fact about myself: despite one common but incorrect assumption of my origin, I hail from the banks of the Kavango River.

With an exception of three months in my 12-year career, I have worked for the Government of Namibia since completing my studies at the University of Namibia in 2006.

Well, I got a job with B2Gold between January and March of 2013 as a legal coordinator, but it failed to resonate with my heart.

One could call my stint there as a fly-by-night type of thing without me taking offense as I immediately left when my current job called, and here, I feel at home.”even though it pays less than what B2Gold was offering me.

Is it results or it’s the people? What do you emphasise on?

It is people, they bring about the results.

What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?

Integrity, honesty, confidence and open-mindedness.

At this stage, how do you get others to accept your ideas?

Three sure ways. One is by being open-minded. I have seen that others are open to my ideas when they know I am open to theirs. This does not mean I agree with everything that is out there but I am open to listen and understand; even if I end up disagreeing.

Another thing I quickly learnt in the workplace is that being knowledgeable makes a huge difference. So, I always try to make sure that I know my stuff.

I have also learnt to be assertive when I know I am right. This is an important one because sometimes I meet people who choose to only see me as a “petite young woman” and disregard the authority I carry.

In a time, such as this, (where we must all make determined efforts to develop this country) women must be seen for who they really are and not who “society” has packaged them to be – this way women can be recognised and be availed equal opportunities of responsibility.

A recent research by the Hay Group of US company Korn Fery established that women leaders score higher than men on emotional intelligence competencies, do you think this makes women better leaders/managers?

I am hesitant to make general comparisons between men and women because we are all uniquely made. Although emotional intelligence is important, it is not the only factor that matters. Other attributes also play a role.

What must however be clear is that women are also capable.

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Selling Diamonds: Inside Kennedy Hamutenya’s logic

It’s exactly a year to this month that NAMDIA, a new Namibian government company which is entitled to buy 15% of NamDeb’s run-of-mine production for onward sale to discerning world markets was founded.

And this anniversary coincides well with Hamutenya’s 50th birthday.

As Chief Executive Officer, Hamutenya is the face of NAMDIA. His experience in the diamond industry, his position in the political landscape of Namibia and his stature in the community, are not reflective of the the physical office he now occupies in Windhoek.

Whilst waiting for the completion of NAMDIA’s offices currently under construction, Hamutenya and his team of dedicated managers operated from small rented offices in the city.

“The biggest lesson I learned is that you must work On your business not in your business for it to grow. We are moving to the new offices sooner than you think. The contractors are just finishing off the final touches.

Like NAMDIA, this building is unique – in both its history and its design. Moreover, it will perhaps be the most secure building in the city. We will not compromise on the safety of our people, nor on the security of our product,” he says.

Hamutenya’s journey has been characterised by both humble beginnings and public pessimism.

He was among the young people tasked by the then guerrilla movement, SWAPO, during the liberation struggle, to focus on gaining academic qualifications and experience

“so that when we gain independence, we would know what to do with our natural resources,” says Mines Commissioner, Erasmus Shivolo, with whom Kennedy spent time together whilst studying abroad.

Namibia today has the largest reserves of marine diamonds in the world and Hamutenya is best positioned to know what to do with NAMDIA.

“Big retailers don’t sell diamonds. They just sell a brand,” he says.

We’ve all heard of the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” but for Hamutenya, it seems diamonds are also becoming an investor’s best friend.

Rough diamond prices have jumped nearly a third since 2005 and rose to another 20 percent by 2017, bolstered by demand in Asian economic powerhouses China and India, according to wealth research firm Wealth-X.

Record prices of diamonds have been making headlines lately. A pear-shaped 101.73 carat “flawless” diamond, for example, sold for a record $27 million to luxury jeweler Harry Winston at a Christie’s auction in Geneva.

It’s no surprise that many investors want in on the action.

Government to becoming the Diamonds Commissioner, a position he occupied for the past 15 years before joining NAMDIA, Hamutenya has the footprints to steer the country’s diamond trade into the right direction.

Already, in just over a year of existence, NAMDIA has so far sold close to a billion Namibian dollars’ worth of diamonds and paid some N$60 million in taxes to the State – over and beyond the De Beers Price book.

“We have been accused of underselling diamonds. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we are selling 15% of Namdeb Holdings diamonds for over and above De Beers selling price (our invoices are testimony) why spit venom at NAMDIA but not question the sale of the rest of the 85% by De Beers?

If our price is higher than theirs that means the bulk of the Namibian diamonds are grossly being undersold. This is simple logic.

We have boxes of our inaugural annual report sitting in our office awaiting presentation in Cabinet and Parliament,” Hamutenya tells Us.

He has no qualms with those crucifying NAMDIA. In fact, it does not bother him.He remains undeterred by those after him.

Having been an integral part of the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) for an increased entitlement of diamonds to the local industry by NamDeb, Hamutenya and diamonds have become synonymous with success.

He was appointed as the Chief Negotiator for Government by Cabinet and this was a unique and welcome opportunity.

With his insights and experience in the diamond industry, this position provided an ideal opportunity to correct some anomalies that were holding the Government back from fully developing the diamond sector.

Of course, considering he was a leading a team consisting of much senior members, including Permanent Secretaries, he had to be humble and tread carefully, he says.

Today more than 50% of all Namibian diamonds (U$430 million out of US$800 million) are earmarked for local polishing.

Also, all the big stones (specials) and unique beautiful stones are earmarked for local manufacturing.

This is excluding the $150 million purchase entitlement to Namib Desert Diamonds (NAMDIA).

For Hamutenya, this was very crucial to give the Namibian manufacturing industry the oxygen it so desperately needed to make the industry viable and sustainable.

So as a result of the Diamond Agreement Hamutenya’s team signed last year, some 73% of all Namdeb Holdings diamonds are working directly for the local economy through beneficiation and direct trade through NAMDIA.

His vision for NAMDIA is clear. “I want to create an elite international diamond sales and marketing company and to create a footprint of our beautiful diamonds in the international market.

I want to see NAMDIA as a good corporate citizen, essential in helping to empower young people and women in Namibia.

According to net worth data provided by Wealth-X, as of July 15, 2013, the world’s richest diamond owners consist of collectors, dealers, business owners as well as investors who have stakes in some of the world’s biggest diamond mines.

So, from being the youngest director in the Namibian

I want to see NAMDIA helping to build vulnerable communities. I want to see Namdia as a partner in education by helping to build infrastructure. I want NAMDIA to be an incubator of diamond knowledge and technical diamond skills to especially our young people.

I want communities to say we are better off because NAMDIA is here. I want NAMDIA to contribute its part towards revenue generation (taxes and dividends) that would facilitate socioeconomic development,” Hamutenya tells Us.

In simple terms, he wants to see Namibian diamonds selling at Maddison Square Garden, The Mall of the Emirates, and proudly displayed around the necks of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

“Because of our constraints we have been forced to sell the entire shipment to no more than two clients per every shipment. We have been trading from the NDTC space and we are only allowed to bring in no more than two clients.

It is a very difficult job for one person to split the shipment without sorters. We are busy recruiting and by early next year we would have moved into our building and our processes would be more efficient and optimal,” Hamutenya says.

It has been a roller-coaster ride – billion Dollar sales, a skeletal staff working around the clock to drive the engines of success, with not even own offices to operate from. Yet success continues to beckon.

But it has come at a cost. Only the first year with NAMDIA and he has already had to miss Christmas with the family, globetrotting to open new markets, some in countries that know no Christmas.

He admits his family life has been impacted by the teething phase of NAMDIA, and his two daughters and wife Thusnelde have had to contend with such a lifestyle.

“I feel bad as I am missing out on important family milestones. I have children from my previous life and I try very hard to ensure that they have a good education and to ensure that their needs are taken care of. But most of all, I try to make time to share in their lives. They too are growing fast.

But mostly the important thing is that me and my wife are God fearing people and we want to bring up our children in an environment where we promote family and Christian values,” he says.

It is through life’s tragedies that Hamutenya has become stronger. In 1998 his father lost his life in a hit-and-run tragedy around Katutura hospital.

The culprit was intoxicated, it turned out, and the death was a low blow for the young corporate who was trying to reconnect with his father, after 20 years of life abroad.

They were just five years into their bonding as father and son.

Worse still, the suspect was never apprehended, having skipped the country to Zambia.

“No apology was offered. I was very bitter for many years but I have made peace with God and I have let it go. I used to have the Police case number on my pin board but I have since thrown it away. It is between him and his God now,” says Hamutenya striking a subdued tone.

And yet, despite all this, Hamutenya’s star continued to shine and he rose through the ranks swiftly.

Again, as he was helping NAMDIA cut its teeth in the international arena, double tragedy struck again last year.

“I lost my uncle, Hidipo as well Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, my first boss at the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Both these tragedies impacted me and allowed me to zero in on my purpose in life and what my role is in the development of this country. These were selfless men who gave up everything for us to be here.

I used to write Tate Ya Toivo’s speeches and travelled with him across Namibia and the world, so we developed a very strong relationship. He also knew my late grandfather – Aaron Hamutenya – my late uncle Hidipo and my mother’s father. I have fond memories and great adulation for these men.

The most important attribute of the late Ya Toivo was his humility. For a man who sacrificed the majority of his life for our freedom and independence he was so humble and never asked to be treated like a King.”

Such experience has been intertwined by Hamutenya into NAMDIA’s cause, and history will be the judge of his legacy, just like his two idols.

HAMUTENYA’S JOURNEY (Colorado School of Mines (US) Bsc: Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (1989-1993)

Director of Mines

Government of Namibia

Diamond Commissioner:

Government of Namibia


International Seabed Authority

August 2004-2011

Deputy Chairperson

DebMarine Namibia

January 2000-2015


Namdeb Holdings (Pty) Ltd

January 2000 – 2015


Namgem Diamond Cutting Factory

January 2000-Present


Minerals Development Fund of Namibia

January 2000 – 2016

Alternate Director

Diamond Board for Namibia

January 1998-Present

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Tours for your convenience

Tshavuka Tours and Accommodation is one of the best companies to consider when planning tours in and around Namibia.

“Each detail counts to satisfy our clients who travel to Namibia, especially the European market,” says Thomas Ndemwoongela.

Growing up in Germany Thomas, upon settling in Namibia, always had a knack of assisting German tourists to understand the country.

“The passion of tourism inspired me to venture into business,” Thomas says.

In tourism, competition is the main challenge because of the number of stakeholders involved in the tourism sector where each company has its unique factors to attract customers or clients.

“I have segregated my clientele. I mainly deal with European tourists. I have a longing to work with local tourists but they are not as fond to travel this majestic country. My dream is for the tourism industry to provide more exciting packages to entice locals to explore this country,” he says.

Many of the Tshavuka clients enjoy visiting countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania.

Tourists would to visit such countries because of the landscape the lifestyle of people in those countries. Tshavuka is a 100% Namibian tourism company providing professional knowledge in each destination and services in the region, and has excelled in specialised receptive tourism market.

“This is why we look into every detail of your trip, to insure each itinerary has all the

Since the company started back in 2013, it has been growing and Tshavuka tours is getting more exposure and the services being offered is getting better with time.

Its team of specialists work with great passion, discipline and knowledge not only to show you the best of Namibia, but allow travellers to feel it with all their senses.

“The company is hoping to offer student tours and this will expose students to different environment in Africa and around the world. We believe that no matter how great a place is, only an experienced travel expert with passion for the job can help you discover its unique and amazing qualities,” Thomas concludes.

The company’s priority is to ensure clients a 100% safe and comfortable trip. This is why they continually invest in flotillas of its fleet which is maintained in a daily basis.

The trips are carefully designed to combining cultural and natural riches with, comfort, safety, luxury and adventure to create trips guests will talk about for a long time.

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The Windhoek postman who never misses the party

The shift in consumer habits driven by e-commerce and increasing competition in recent years have negatively affected a record number of courier and haulier businesses, which in turn sparked a record number of insolvencies in the logistics industry.

But not for Hosky Gowaseb.

By evening each day, Gowaseb oversees over 6000 parcels leaving Windhoek destined to 140 Post Offices depots around the country, through Nampost’s six-line haul trucks and 70 other vehicles.

He doesn’t seem to tire. In fact, that Nampost’s courier division has been awarded the PMR Diamond Arrow for the 5th time in a row, inspires his determination.

“What gives me the most satisfaction is knowing that I have made a difference in someone’s life. Not just meeting their expectation, but exceeding it. For example, sometimes a parcel will get misrouted and if a customer is waiting for their parcel at 10am, we have to go out of our way overnight to intervene and sometimes it gets to its destination before 10. My energy subsequently comes from my team and from the fact that Nampost does appreciate our impact,” Gowaseb tells Us.

Besides the regular account holder and walk-in customer, Gowaseb also oversees some big accounts.

From thousands of MTC cell phones going out to clients on a daily basis, hundreds of blood packages for the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), Pathcare and the Namibian Blood Transfusion Services (NamBTS), which must be delivered within 24 hours to their various destinations countrywide in order to still be usable.

Can you imagine what will be the effect if one of the deliveries is not completed or there are technical glitches within the department?

“There is no room for error. From the packaging to the drivers. We treat each package with unique care.

For instance, blood samples that must be transported to Katima Mulilo within 24 hours will be handled differently to a bank cheque that has to be delivered to a company in that same town who wants to pay their salaries. So care is key, and to achieve it, we know, ‘better safe than sorry, better late than never’,” explains Gowaseb.

With the digital advancements in the world supposedly chocking the life out of courier business, Nampost remains with over 25 000 customers weekly. Gowaseb says that they have not winced at technology. If anything, Nampost has embraced technology by diversifying innovation.

A case in innovation is the courier company’s EasyPack product which  allows customers to send parcels that weight less than 2Kg overnight to any destination in Namibia for only N$55.

The shifting demands of ecommerce have forced companies like Nampost to overhaul operations and invest heavily in new IT systems and automated warehouse operations that enable companies to process large volumes at speed, as well as providing customers with updates on a parcel’s progress.

“If you don’t have very sophisticated systems to manage those things you’ll find yourself losing out to competition,” says Gowaseb. “The businesses that have made investments and are at the forefront are in a stronger position to grow market share, and the ones who haven’t may find it’s too late.

Nampost is a trendsetter,” he adds, citing the company’s new system that allows you to track wherever your package is, right up to the moment of delivery, as well as the Nampost App that is in the offing.

As the largest courier company in Namibia, Nampost Courier also partners with international courier companies that allows sending or receiving parcels from oversees effortlessly.

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Making Women Leaders

From Baronice Hans, Rosalia Martins-Hausiku, Tania Hangula and First Lady, Monica Geingos, young ladies have a template to which to inspire but this representation still pales compared to men.

Founder of the Women of Vision International, an organization with a vision to empower women across all denomination lines, Prophetess Titilayoh Goroh believes that women are basically the backbone of every successful society.

A Women’s Convention taking place from 11-14 May is looking to empower and inspire more women to fulfill their destinies.

“Leadership skills will be introduced to women in this year’s Convention as these skills are needed by women in today’s society…

…This year’s Convention seeks to empower women to rise to the challenges of taking up leadership roles in society. We look forward to educate and enlighten women on how to lead,” Prophetess Goroh tells Us.

Gracing the Convention is Dr Beverley Wolmarans, seasoned preacher from the US and co-founder (along with husband,

Dr Theo Wolmarans) of Christian Family Church (CFC), in 1979, which has more than 500 branches including Namibia. She is a very popular speaker and shares life lessons she has learned as a mother and a wife.

This year’s Women’s Convention is aimed at women with vision. “As this is a huge event of its kind, women who will take part will be taught how to maintain their marriages…

…Issues that women go through in their lives in general and in marriages will be looked on at this year’s event,” says the Prophetess. She adds,

“Women have important roles to play in their children’s lives in marriages and in their husband’s lives, so this event will be a platform for these women to share their experiences and learn from one another…

…This event will result in reduction of socio-economic evils such as passion killing, partly caused by vulnerable women.”

Apart from the event itself, there will be a platform for women to showcase their talents. Ladies from different categories and backgrounds will have a chance to sell their products and to showcase the services they offer or provide.

The 24th Women’s Convention will be taking place at Okuryangava, Ombili Jesus Center Church.

Reasons why women make great leaders:

They are empathetic.

“Most women are naturally empathetic and value relationships. This enables them to have a strong understanding of what drives and motivates people, and how to acknowledge different people for their performance.” – Anna Crowe, CEO and founder, Crowe PR

They make great listeners.

“Women make great leaders because we take the time to listen instead of reacting right away. We appreciate people and their viewpoints. Whether they are right or wrong, we hear them out and then make our decision. We tend to give people chances that no others do.” – Jo Hausman, career and leadership coach and author, “Go For It! A Woman’s Guide to Perserverance” (Best Seller Publishing, 2016)

They are nurturing.

“One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to help your team members develop their own skills and strengths. Women are naturally nurturing, which in the best scenarios can translate to helping those around you succeed.” – Marilyn Heywood Paige, vice president of marketing, FiG Advertising

They focus on teamwork.

“The women [I’ve worked with] consistently demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and an immense capacity to serve and be served by others. I’ve observed women make bold and wise decisions as leaders while relying on others to be part of their team. The environment is less authoritarian and more cooperative and family-like, but with solid leadership.” – Katharine M. Nohr, principal, Nohr Sports Risk Management

They’re good at multitasking.

“Women make great leaders as we are natural multitaskers. The ability to decisively and quickly respond to simultaneous and different tasks or problems at a time is a critical component to successful leadership.” – Carolann Tutera, president, SottoPelle

They’re motivated by challenges.

“We are creative problem solvers motivated by obstacles. The desire to overcome a challenge fuels us to get things accomplished. Leaders don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” – Jackie Zlatanovski, founder, Flik Flops

They’re strong communicators.

“Communication is said to be among a woman’s strongest skill — and female leaders know how to use it! Whether communicating with employers, co-workers, or partners, an open communication stream allows for clarity in executing roles and responsibilities. Female business leaders are able to communicate regularly, clearly and openly.” – Tina Bacon-DeFrece, president, Big Frog

They dream big.

“Women make great leaders because they have an innate ability to dream big, challenge assumptions and inspire teams — and they know how to translate big ideas into concrete action and results.” – Angela Dejene, executive vice president, Crosswind Media & Public Relations

They handle crisis situations well.

“Many women, especially moms, are trained caretakers and know how to deal with crisis situations at home with compassion and patience. These attributes become very relevant when a woman leader is dealing with crisis situations whether this is related to HR or [clients].” – Huma Gruaz, president and CEO, Alpaytac PR

They can wear many hats.

“Wearing many hats is often a regular occurrence in a women’s life. They often balance careers, households and even aging parents, among other things. Women pivot, adjust and focus on solutions. Resting in the doom and gloom can be time-consuming, so many shift to find positive solutions to life and work problems.” – Gretchen Halpin, chief strategy officer, Hewins Financial Advisors

They check their egos.

“Ego so often gets in the way of good decision-making in the C-suite. Women exhibit ego differently and they are good at decision-making with the ego held in check. This is a key advantage in working with boards of directors, partners and customers.” – Joan Wrabetz, CTO, Quali

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Pupkewitz Toyota’s long serving employee still smashing targets

The business of people is not just something Pupkewitz Toyota sales executive Astrid Finkeldeh has mastered, she has made it an art.

At 71, Astrid is not only Pupkewitz Toyota’s longest serving employee for 22 years, she has been around since it was opened, but she is the highest selling sales executive at the branch. Her secret is understanding people.

She has watched the company grow and expand.

“I love the connection with people. Seeing a young woman satisfied after she buys her first car or a father buying his son a car brings me a lot of joy I don’t like to be alone, I like to engage with the client and in so doing I’ve made a lot of friends,” she tells Us.

One of those being Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia, Claurinah Tshenolo Modise, who still invites her to events and diner from time to time.

After a 16-year spell as a real estate agent, Astrid left after the market began to get flooded.

After 22 years at Pupkewitz Toyota on Independence Avenue, her idea is to always smile, even when the client is grumpy.

In fact, Astrid has no plans of retiring.

“I want to keep working. I will only leave when my employer finally decides to let me go…

…My husband died after an illness last year and my son is living in London, so when I’m at home I’m just taking care of my garden and my birds. The job gives me a sense of purpose.”

Born in Otjiwarongo but raised in Grootfontein, Astrid has also worked for Bank Windhoek and the City of Windhoek but it is her experience as a real estate agent that she believes prepared her for life as a car sales executive, and given her such success.

“Being a real estate agent taught me the importance of honesty. Always be honest with the client.”

Not every experience of course goes smoothly. She recalls once booking a test drive for a Land Cruiser, only for them to buy the same car at another dealer.

Astrid deals with disappointment the old-fashioned way, by sealing her next sale.

“Perhaps it is because I am old school, I still have my old Nokia, as long as I can text and call I am happy…

…I guess what I don’t like so much about the car industry these days is that every six months there’s a new model of a different car with only one button added or new rims, I’m happy with my Toyota Corolla which I have had for a long time.”

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The Grandma of Windhoek’s club life

Those that visit nightclubs on a regular basis knows that between cover charges, table reservations, and drinks (and drinks and drinks), the costs associated with going out can add up quickly, and that means big business for clubs and venues.

Born 59 years ago, Ouma Ruth has seen it all about Windhoek night life. She has been cleaning at Club London for the past ten years from the days of Club Ladeedas to the present-day Club London.

And yet in those ten years, she has never shown her dance moves but blends in with the rest on the dancefloor picking up trash, mopping the dance-floor of spilt beverages and vomits or cleaning the toilets for revellers.

“When I first got the job, the owner of the club, Kelvin Strauss aka DJ Droopy, gave me a brief orientation of the club and showed me what and how to clean,” says Ouma Ruth, as she has come to be known.

“My first impression when I got the job was not awe-inspiring as the place looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a while although there were people cleaning the club already. Before I officially started with my job the owner of the club told me how unhappy he was with the tidiness of the place and I immediately knew that I can take on the challenge.”

The grand-matriarch of nightlife, known for her calmness has picked up a lot of lost belongings from handbags, cellphones to money. Not once has she been accused of stealing.

For Droopy and Ouma Ruth, their relationship is more than just club owner and cleaner, it is almost like mother and son.

When Ouma’s son died, Droopy was around to support burial and covered the transport costs and other necessities.

“Another thing I am grateful for is when my other son failed grade 10, Droopy took him under his wings and helped him improve his points and now he is at university.

He always helps when I need a hand,” says Ouma Ruth.

In fact, Ouma has become so close to Droopy’s family that he lets her take care of his child at home.

“I know that my daughter is safe in her hands, so I need not to worry when I leave her in her care,” says Droopy, adding, “She is a hard-working old lady, I don’t even get mad at Ouma when she shows up late for work because she is so appreciated at the work place.”

He is planning to keep Ouma until the day that she decides that she cannot do the work anymore. “She is one of a kind, Ouma does her work so neatly and am impressed with her.”

When Dj Droopy got married Ouma started working at his house on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and on the other days she’s at the club.

The Club Scene

You don’t have to be a DJ to know that Windhoek is blessed with some of the finest clubs and nights out on the planet.

Whatever your taste in music and whatever kind of party you’re looking for, Windhoek has a huge amount to offer and a host of incredible venues in which to host the fun.

From intimate spaces that host full-on techno parties to vast, globally acclaimed clubbing institutions, you’ll never be bored when partying in the city, particularly if you start with the top ten we listed on the right.

Here are the top ten clubs in Windhoek.

1 Club London

2 Vibe

3 Chopsis

4 DMT Lounge

5 Warehouse (The Loft)

6 Chill-Out

7 Jokers’

8 The Lounge

9 Fashion Bar

10 Navara

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