WINDHOEK, OCT. 4 – In 2012, four years after graduating with a diploma from the then Polytechnic of Namibia, in Urban Land Use Planning (Land Management), Siseho Sisamu launched head first into his own business.
“I could not see myself as an employee till the age of 60 and then go into retirement. I wanted to be my own boss and motivator,” says the 35-year old owner of SISI Consultancy and Technical Service Cc.
After completing his studies he worked for Rural Poverty Reduction Programme (RPRP) as a Geoinformatic (GIS) Consultant for two years. He then joined Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ Namibia) as a Geoinformatic Technician for one and a half years.
Geoinformatics is the science and technology which develops and uses information science infrastructure to address the problems of geography, cartography, geosciences and related branches of science and engineering.
“I am naturally a driven individual and that is part of the reason I started the business. I identified a gap in the industry and I felt that I could make a meaningful contribution. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that your work (like a building) will be utilised by generations to come and this is a partial answer to the old question of what is your legacy,” says Sisamu.
The Katima Mulilo-born go-getter says he wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the development of the country and create jobs.
According to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), Namibia’s unemployment rate increased to 34% in 2017 from 28,1% in 2014, the last time a Labour Force Survey was conducted.
Deputy director in the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Nhlanhla Lupahla in April revealed that Namibia has 67 000 unemployed graduates.
There is increasing pressure on graduates to become job creators instead of job seekers.
Sisamu accepts this responsibility.
“I employ eight permanent staff members and casual employees for different projects. The number of casual workers is always determined by the magnitude of the project.
“It is important to me because through job creation I am enabling an individual to put food on their table and to take care of his or her family,” says Sisamu.
Asked about the name of his business, Sisamu says, “SISI is an acronym of my name Siseho Sisamu. I wanted something I could identify with and one’s name is one of those very important things in life. Society first identifies with you through your name and the reputation and accolades come from that.”
The married father of a seven-year-old daughter lists the human factor as one of the big challenges in managing a business in Namibia?
“You deal with so many different individuals on one project and you need to learn how to manage the different personalities,” says Sisamu.
The expenses involved in sourcing material are another challenge, as some of the materials are not manufactured locally. He also points out the vast distances between towns as another challenge.
But Sisamu isn’t one who lets tough times get in the way of his dreams but is quick to thank Lady Luck for his accomplishments.
“Raising funds was a big challenge in the beginning but I was fortunate that I got loans from good Samaritans. It was especially difficult as I did not have collateral to offer financial institutions at the time.” says Sisamu, who has seven siblings and is grateful for both his parents to still be around.
The ever optimistic entrepreneur heaps praise on his bank, Nedbank Namibia, for always offering “the right assistance” when he needs it.
“I am always advised on prudent financial management,” he says.
Nelson Simasiku, the head of SME Business at Nedbank Namibia said the bank offers services and value-added solutions to enable SMEs to grow faster, easier and more effectively.
“Supporting entrepreneurship in the country is imperative to Nedbank as entrepreneurs activate and stimulate economic activity. Their innovative solutions enhance living conditions, create jobs and even address social issues,” Says Simasiku
“We also understand that by taking the leap to become an entrepreneur can be a daunting task, our Nedbank SME team assist with your day-to-day banking, cash flow and working capital funding, medium to long term financing, business reserves & investments and assurance needs”.
Simasiku continues that access to finance or funding alone is not sufficient therefore Nedbank’s value-added services further include practical mentorship and small business seminars.
Sisamu advises young business people to “keep God as the foundation in all you do and remember that family is an important component of your success.
“The path to success is not easy but you should never give up. There are times it will feel like there is no way out but there is always a way out. There is always a lesson to be learned from a situation you encounter but most of all never lose sight as to why you started your business.” – NDN Staffer