Making a living from second-hand clothes

Not far from the intersection leading to the gravel road in Havana informal settlement are both the young and the old struggling to make a living by selling goods.

The New Era team went to the informal settlement last Friday where people went about their daily business, selling all sorts of things ranging from food to detergents and clothes. There, the team met two young people who are both working hard to make ends meet.

Natangwe William has been selling second-hand clothes which he buys in Angola. William sells various clothes and accessories for both men and women. These include bras for women, jackets, trousers, T-shirts, formal shirts, shoes and handbags.

I started selling here (Havana informal settlement) three years ago after I saw that many people were venturing into the business of selling second-hand clothes in Okuryangava where I started selling, said William who is of Angolan origin.

He has been selling second-hand clothes for about five years. Before that, William sold tomatoes and potatoes as well as other food.

William and his sister decided to venture into business not long after their parents died.

We are many, said William when asked how many siblings he has to provide for. Currently, William and his sister live with seven younger siblings at their shack in Goreangab informal settlement.

We pay N$1,400 at the shack but that is inclusive of water and electricity, he adds.

The idea to sell second-hand clothes was birthed after William visited his uncle in Angola.

He (uncle) took me to Luanda and I saw how people conduct business that side and also how every six months new fashion trends set in and they are forced to sell clothes in big balloons (containers), explained Williams, stating that he first started selling bags.

When I made good profit I decided that I had to buy bags of clothes, added William.

He bought his first bag for about N$3,000 five years ago.

I sold them in Angola first and then I sent some to my sister to also sell here. Then we made profit and I bought more, added William, without stating how much profit he makes. William whose business is located at three locations in Windhoek said that people from the informal settlements are interested in the clothes, accessories and shoes that he sells.

Our prices start from N$60, he says, explaining that for relatively new clothes the price is slightly higher.

We have a big washing machine that we use to wash some clothes. We hang them and iron them before selling, said William before a customer interrupted to enquire on prices. Young people should not sit at home when they don't have work. They can even start selling sweets and when they make a profit of N$10 they should not use it. They should keep the profit because after a while they will see that the profit is growing, added William, who currently employs three people.

We pay them N$800 to sell for us, he added.

According to the 2016 Labour Force Survey by the Namibia Statistics Agency, the employed population decreased by 32,010 persons since the last survey was conducted in 2014, while unemployment based on the broad definition increased by 5.9 percentage points.

Even though Havana is a busy area, William said he has not yet had an encounter with thieves preying on him.

They don't come when it's busy like this unless they do it in a cunning way. And when that happens I don't pursue them because my life is more important, said William. Next to William's spot is Hilma Kasino, also a young woman.

I decided to sell these clothes after my mother encouraged me, said Kasino. Her single mother has to care for Kasino and her two brothers. I make profit for me to get transport money to go to school, said Kasino.

Unlike William, Kasino does not sell every day as she has to go to school. Also, she does not sell second-hand clothes.

My mother waits for when there is a sale at retails and then she buys the clothes which I sell here, said Kasino. Kasino, a resident of Havana, also encouraged y oung people to find a legal means of survival.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia