“Be unstoppable” : women in carpentry aiming for the stars

By Hertta-Maria Amutenja & Musa Zimunya

WINDHOEK, JULY 2 – Johanna Namidi is not your typical carpenter. Although she is a teacher by profession, she is also pursuing a career in carpentry. After realising a lack or minimal female representation in the industry, she and her partner Julia Hashikutuva founded JOJU Furniture CC using only pallets. On top of other creative pursuits, they also sell vintage clothing.

This reporter caught up with the duo, who explained what birthed the idea of starting a carpentry company.

“We were interested in carpentry for so many reasons. The first is that we find it very rewarding to see something we have created, although it is not entirely us who do the handiwork. We have always wanted to see our creations come to life,” said Namidi.

Namidi is employed as a teacher in Rundu, and so when she is busy, her partner takes over. However, she tries to make time by traveling to Windhoek as often as possible.

Here on display, is a couch and a table, with a bottle holder that they create at JOJU Furniture shop

“That is where our workshop is based; it is not fair to let my partner handle everything by herself that side,” she said.

Namidi holds a Honours degree in Education (Business and Economics), while her partner Hashikutuva, a banker by profession, majored in Accounting.

As carpentry is a male-dominated industry this reporter asked about challenges they faced as well as deterring factors.

“It is actually very challenging because firstly, what comes in people’s minds is that we are very young and they probably think that we wouldn’t make them something that meets their expectations. Sometimes, as soon as they realise that we are women, they either don’t call us back for their orders or they tell us they got someone ‘better,’ which is very frustrating. But we are really hopeful that one day we will eventually become successful,” said Hashikutuva.

The ambitious duo have set some high targets, and are confident that in five years time, the world will be at their feet.

                                  Some of the wares that Namidi and Hashikutuva make

“Five years from now, I see us running the biggest workshop in Namibia, being able to send orders outside the country, to resign from our jobs and become full time carpenters. But what I can really not wait to do is to pick up my cell and tell my clients that I am fully-booked for the month,” said Namidi.

She said that the company is angled toward promoting economic advancement and social progression, although at the time of the interview, it had one employee.

“(As far as National Development Plans are concerned) we are trying to grow the company and employ the youth as much as possible, but currently, we only have one employee thus we have a very long way to go,” Namidi.

She added that while she prides herself on her creations, the company is flexible enough to allow clients to provide pictures of their own designs, after which they “see if we can make them or not.”

Namidi explained that the main focus of the company was ideally pallets.

“We can literally do anything that can be made from pallets, starting from beds, lounge chairs, can holders, wine holders, shoe racks, tables, and so on. The sky is the limit.”

She urged aspiring entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs to ignore negative advice and instead, focus on constantly growing themselves and cultivating their dreams and ideas.

“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do. Be unstoppable and go out there and be the best you were made to be!” –