WINDHOEK, Aug. 17 – Namibian business leaders like Aupa Frans Indongo and the late Harold Pupkewitz are revered for their achievements in their respective industries. However, the significant contribution towards economic development made locally by entrepreneurs in smaller towns around the country, often goes unrecognized.
On such example is Otjiwarongo-based Jefta Haggai and his wife, Taimi, who both started from the proverbial kitchen table. But today, their business, Omagumbo Construction, is one of the foremost in that part of Namibia.
After completing his building construction training at the Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in Okakarara, Jefta started as a general worker on a building construction site.
“I only worked for that firm for a few months before starting my own business”, says Haggai. “I knew I could do much better being my own boss because I was hard working and dedicated”.
Haggai registered the business a mere 10 years ago in 2007, after the first quotation he ever prepared was accepted by a customer.
With no equipment, Haggai took a gamble, and his understanding customer took a risk and agreed to pay an upfront deposit before the job had started. With that money Haggai bought a cement mixer, wheelbarrows and other tools. This represented his first ever investment and since that day Haggai makes a point of always reinvesting a portion of money generated from each job.
He fondly recalls the day he opened the business’s first bank account at the FNB Otjiwarongo branch. The bank official was initially skeptical, but when Haggai asked if he could make his first deposit of N$100 she realized this budding entrepreneur was set to go places.
Since that day he has enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) listed bank and the relationship has grown from strength-to-strength. “Resultantly whenever a performance guarantee is required in support of a tender bid”, Haggai confidently says, “I know my personal banker is just a phone call away”.
A decade later, Jefta and Taimi Haggai are shareholders of many NSX listed companies, including the bank.
Revonia Kahivere, FNB Manager for Corporate Social Investment expressed her delight with the success story: “We have been supporting SME Compete for many years and success stories such as these warm our hearts. At FNB we understand the important role SMEs toward the economic transformation of our country. We support budding SME’s that in turn will employ our fellow Namibians and contribute towards the growth of the country.”
Asked to share his recipe for business success, Haggai says it all about relationships.
“Firstly, with my wife, Taimi who works alongside me on the construction-site and helps with the paperwork to make sure our books and administration is up to date,” says Haggai.
“Demonstrating honesty, reliability and doing what you promise to do on time every time, meeting dealings with suppliers and service providers, is important”, says Haggai. Rhetorically he asks, “How can I expect the bank to support me in time of need when I don’t even bother to keep my account in good order?”
Haggai underscores the importance of cultivating a savings culture. “Imagine if I didn’t then I will now be squealing like many others today”, adding “Don’t save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving”.
Jefta and Taimi Haggai are certainly a couple going places. They are the hidden business icons to be found in Namibia’s smaller urban centres, those local entrepreneurs who are the backbone of the local economy of smaller towns across the country, collectively creating the country’s wealth and thousands of jobs.
The business founded and owned by Jefta and Taimi Haggai, Omagumbo Construction, continues to benefit from routine business growth support and mentorship services provided by SMEs Compete.
A social entreprpeurship entity, SMEs Compete is supported by First National Bank through the FNB Foundation Trust to provide mentorship, business skills development, wealth and job creation support to entrepreneurs across Namibia. – Ignatius Mutasa