“If you’re genuinely passionate, you’ll be okay.”
Martha Nahambo is a young entrepreneur and the owner of Wait on Me Staffing Agency. The oldest of three children, Martha was born and raised in Windhoek, where she attended both primary & high school, finishing her Grade 12 at Academia Secondary School in 2014. Having failed her matric year, Martha then decided to attend TUCSIN in an attempt to improve her results. After finishing at TUCSIN, she went on to complete the Science Foundation course at the University of Namibia (UNAM) in 2016. Martha is currently enrolled at the NUST Hotel School, in her final year.
Martha was proactive, starting working at the age of 16 at her aunt’s catering company. She then quickly moved on to working at different restaurants, cafes and lodges. She joined Avani Windhoek Hotel & Casino as a scheduled worker, and also worked as a GSA (Guest Service Attendant) in the Casino. Overtime, her position became permanent.
“Now I have been fortunate enough to be the only Namibian selected to join the Ascent Graduate Programme – a programme by Minor Hotels (a hotel-chain based in Thailand, that owns different brands of hotels including Avani Hotels) that selects a handful of students from around the world, giving them the opportunity to learn & grow through their various 530 hotels worldwide. The programme was meant to take place in April 2020 but due to the pandemic, it has been moved to next year. I am looking forward to being a part of the next cohort & the journey that lies ahead!”
Starting her own company alongside juggling school & work really helped Martha learn how to work on tight deadlines but also taught her how to prioritize and plan ahead, while also allowing her to meet & work with amazing people who have taught her much about career growth.
Tell us about Wait on Me, the products & services you offer and your team.
“Wait on Me provides gourmet waitressing services for bars, restaurants and events. Our staff takes care of your guests and gives you the peace of mind to focus on other aspects of your event. Just as each event is unique, we provide specialized waitressing services to all our clients and cater to their needs.
We also offer specialized training packages that are perfect for existing waiters to improve their skills, product knowledge and ensure that customers are happy to return.
In addition, we make specialized platters for small to big events.
The Wait On Me team consists of young, passionate and highly trained waiters that all have experience working in the Hospitality Industry.”
What inspired you to start this business?
“During my first year of varsity, my friends and I made it a habit to dine out as much as we could but in doing so, I realized that customer service was terrible but more importantly half, if not all, of these waiters didn’t have the skills they needed to work in the industry. This first started as a way for my friends and I to make money but it quickly picked up traction as we went along.”
What do you enjoy most about being your own boss, and did you always know you wanted to delve into entrepreneurship?
“Being my own boss has brought a whole new meaning to the word responsible. This company is my baby and I want to see it grow and flourish but in order for that to happen, I am responsible for feeding it e.g. publishing good content, investing in good quality work/people, responding to the clients on time, getting work done on time etc. That level of responsibility is often misunderstood and taken for granted. I also love the freedom that allows me to do what I think is right.
I decided a long time ago that “working for the man” wasn’t in the cards for me. Yes, I would love to work to gain experience, make connections but it was never going to be a permanent thing.”
What sets your products/services apart from those in the same industry?
“The qualifications that we hold as well as the experience definitely sets us apart from our competition. Waitressing is not rocket science, so anyone can do it but not everyone can be a waiter. We are lucky to have found a team that are truly passionate about serving people.”
What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?
“Being able to juggle everything because as the owner, I am constantly playing different roles within Wait On Me. From receptionist, to content creator, financial manager, to the HR department – my plate is full. The trick is to find your tribe. Surround yourself with people (entrepreneurs) that are also in the same boat as you but more importantly, people that can help you in some of these departments. That help can come in the form of advice, a program/app you didn’t know existed or that one cousin that can do it in their sleep.”
What is your business philosophy?
“Entrepreneurship has no room for shyness. If you have a product/service, hell — even an idea, share it because at the end of the day, you’re not going to sell it to yourself.“
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
“The Hospitality Industry doesn’t sleep; no joke. Working long hours, over the weekends, on special occasions & major holidays will become a norm but if you’re genuinely passionate about this industry, you’ll be okay.”
How important is networking as a growth component of any startup?
“The obvious answer is that it is important because you meet people that can help your business. But I stand by 3 things:
- Believe in your product/service, it’s easier to sell.
- There is no room for shyness when it comes to networking. No one will know about your product if you don’t talk about it. If you are shy, practice in the mirror, with friends or family.
- Get over the fear of sharing your business idea. As you share, opinions from other people can help shape it into a much better idea, something you haven’t thought of.”
What role does your startup play in 1) contributing to society and 2) in nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Namibia?
“Wait On Me recruits and hires newly graduated hospitality students that are in need of work experience. Many waitressing jobs have been taken up by people with very little to no experience. We provide a platform in which these students can gain skills, experience and an income is our way of ensuring that we give them an opportunity to grow their careers, sometimes beyond waitressing.”
What recommendations would you make towards the improvement of the operations of startups?
“While funding schemes are just as important, we need more workshops or forums on how to actually run successful and self-sustaining businesses that can provide employment for future generations. The very basics of how to register a business, how to do taxes etc. It’s frustrating that the youth are constantly told to create job opportunities but are not given adequate resources to do so.”
Startups in Namibia, and all over the world, are facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic; how has your startup adjusted to the situation and/or assisted in disseminating information, combatting the spread of the virus, etc.?
“COVID-19 has brought the Hospitality & Tourism industry to its knees. Many restaurants have closed permanently while others are struggling to keep their doors open. With that said, we have moved our focus to training more existing waiters, by upskilling them to ensure that establishments within the sector hold onto the very few customers left.”
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