WINDHOEK, 27 APR – After the ceremonial primary, secondary and tertiary education experiences, one would think life works like clockwork; that the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, culminating in a job recruitment that in turn guarantees self-sustenance.
While that may be true for those who wield the “Luck of the Irish,” this is a stark contrast to the majority of the youth not only in Namibia, but this entire planet.
Yes, there are those who get employed, but the job vacancies simply can not cater for the entirety of the unemployed, especially considering the constant conveyor-belt of graduates that emerge by the year.
At the recent Mining Expo that ended yesterday, this reporter had a chance encounter with the Managing Director of Power Six Investment, Paulina Alfeus who advised me to take a seat on a curious chair.
“Do you like it? We make these chairs, sofas, cupboards, closets even,” said the bubbly-personality Alfeus.
As comfortable as it was, it was also fascinating as one has to take a look at it twice before realising what they have placed their behind upon.
“These are oil drums. We cut them, furbish them and sell them.”
It was a surreal moment as you notice that indeed, the oil drums are painted, and whatever else they do to them, to make them comfy, affordable and most importantly convenient.
But how did this happen?
“Me and five of my other classmates graduated on the same day in 2016. By February 2017, we couldn’t find jobs, and so we decided to start our own company. We registered it in February 2017, and began our operations in May 2017. It’s called ‘Power Six Investment CC,'” said Alfeus.
When asked how they started the company, she states that during her internship, she managed to gather a few “coins” and so did her partners.
“We brought up all our savings, whatever we earned during our internship to start this company. We couldn’t wait any longer knowing that we had ideas. So we decided to form this company. I am a qualified Boilermaker myself, and my partners have different skill sets, and together we complement each other,” she explained.
Alfeus and her workmates needed to make their products using metals. However, metals are quite expensive, and so came the ingenious idea of running around for scrap and recycling it for more than just a profit.
“Metals are expensive. So we had to look at recycling ready-made metals. The hustle began; going to dump-sites to look for oil drums; panel beating them; cleaning them; and painting them. Most of the time they are VERY dirty! We used to buy them there and I would like to think we are doing the environment a huge favour. Now we go straight to the oil companies sometimes and buy there.”
Her company cuts the drums and adds material such as cushion, leather, rubber-lining and an array of pieces to create various furniture.
“Look, we make these chairs. But it doesn’t end there. There are also sofas, stools, wardrobes, cupboards, you name it. We can make custom furniture as well, depending on what the customer wants and if we can manage to do it. But usually, we can,” beamed Alfeus.
Determined to turn the Expo into her own exhibition, she convinced this reporter to go the next building, where some of the other exhibitors had purchased some of her wares.
“These people have already bought our shelves because they saw that we have potential, and also more importantly, they needed them. It’s always about identifying what people want, what is in demand. And thats why we couldn’t just sit at home; we knew we could provide this.”
So how did they start? How much did they require? Where did they get the equipment to cut off sheaths of steel?
“Like I said, we all came up with our savings. In the beginning, our equity was about N$4000. So we used that to buy the equipment needed at the time. We cut the drums using steel blades and grinders. If you look at our equity right now, it stands at around $50 000, excluding our stock. In the past year, our equity has increased tenfold!” She said proudly.
Alfeus encouraged people who are unemployed to do something about their future, and not to wait for “an opening.”
“We just had to try and make something. We have our qualifications, so we just have to put them to work. Everyone should try and put to use what they have learned.”
“Sacrifice is important in order to get where you want to get. There were times we didn’t get paid because we would buy the drum for N$100. Then we have to buy the material like rubber so that the edges of the drum are smooth, the fabric. At the end of the day, it might be $600 that you put into one drum. Then you sell it for N$800. It’s ok. It’s enough for food, and rent for where I stay, also my partners. I employ 6 people. Even though we are partners we have created employment for each other.
By the end of the interview, it was apparent that nothing will hold these determined individuals back from their dream of not only studying what they wanted to, but translating their learning experiences into tangible, relevant outcomes.