Entrepreneur Appeals to President

A YOUNG and vibrant Windhoek entrepreneur, Shimbi Rhode, has called on President Hage Geingob to urgently intervene in the challenges faced by young entrepreneurs in sourcing financing for their businesses.

Interest rates charged and collateral required by financial institutions have made it nearly impossible for a young entrepreneur to start hisher own business in Namibia, Rhode charges.

She recently launched her innovative business model called Me2u.

In terms of this first-of-its-kind-for-Namibia concept, a buyer purchases two pairs of shoes for a mere N$380. One pair goes to the buyer while the other pair is donated to charity.

The idea came to mind when the 27-year-old go-getter was bedridden following a leg injury. “I started researching business ideas.”

In a copy of Entrepreneur Magazine, she learnt of a South African who does something similar based on the American Toms concept.

A few weeks later, the same article popped up on the electronic version of the magazine to which she subscribes. “I decided to do this in Namibia.”

So far, no such for-profit model exists locally, she says. “The aim is to bring entrepreneurship together with tackling social issues. I decided to start this thing because it really, really resonated with me.”

She is unapologetic about her stance towards socio-economic upliftment. “I believe in giving – don’t just live your life as if you are an island. And that’s the essence of the model: when you make a profit, you give some of it away.”

Despite a lot of discouragement that the model would never work, she has stood firm: “I am going to make this work. After several incidents of the idea being shot down, I decided to go ahead with it anyway.”

She is fully cognisant of the fact that this is a learning curve. “As you go along, you learn.”

Rhode cast her fears aside and transcends her limitations. “You need to dream big and think out of the box – logic [alone] won’t necessarily get you anywhere.”

So far, she has identified a manufacturer in China who will supply her the shoes.

The shoes will be canvas slip-ons which, according to her, are very comfortable and durable.

In order to reduce the current three-month waiting period, she is appealing for investors to come on board to get this venture off the ground.

Although she has approached financing institutions, the exorbitant interest rates and collateral requirements pose a significant challenge.

At this rate, she emphasises, young and upcoming entrepreneurs face an uphill battle to get finance.

So far, she has been in touch with Friends Against Poverty, Hope Village, Mammadu and other charities which could be beneficiaries of her initiative.

“Essentially, the vision is to tackle social issues like poverty, education and other avenues where people need assistance,” she said.

In line with dreaming big, she also intends pairing with the newly established Ministry of Poverty Eradication to address the alarming levels of poverty which cripple many Namibian households.

Ultimately, she sees Me2u raising funds for scholarships, thereby contributing to the realisation of the dreams of young people in Namibia.

Source : The Namibian