From Prisoner to Entrepreneur [opinion]

IN the mid 70s, Willem February moved from Northern Namibia to Windhoek in search of a better life. February then got involved in criminal activities, which led to his conviction for crime and spending time in the Windhoek Prison.

February says during his term in prison, he mastered carpentry, a skill, which would prove useful in the coming years.

Today, February owns W. February Upholstery, whose services include making car seat covers, plane seat covers as well as catering for home and office furniture.

It was also in prison, that February made a decision to become a devout Christian. The motto for his company is based on the Bible Verse, Psalm 23: ‘The Lord is My Shepherd.’

After his release from prison, February worked for several upholstery companies in Windhoek before starting his own in 1997. He employs 25 people and his clients include Windhoek based diplomatic missions and says some of his products have been sold abroad.

He says he wants to expand his business and is planning to move to bigger premises in Windhoek’s Brakewater area should he raise enough capital. He says he gets young men he finds on Windhoek street corners looking for piece work and trains them to work for his company, although he says, most of them eventually leave him for greener pastures.

February, who is married and has six sons, jokingly says about his marriage that he was just a “Kwanyama boy who ended up marrying a coloured woman.” He says he has trained his children in the upholstery trade.

The ever busy “Kwanyama boy” says he takes his Bible from time to time to a farm near Windhoek to read and pray in the bush as part of his unwinding from his busy life.

Surprisingly, February says he has never visited the Windhoek Prison since his release. “I will go and visit at the right time,” he says.

But he says as a way of showing his generosity to society, he supports about 10 elderly in the north and Windhoek by giving the N$1000 per month.

With bigger premises, February says his vision is to venture into spray painting, panel beating and vehicle repairs.

Source : The Namibian