As promised! Launch Magazine Namibia caught up with Helena Negonga, our very first feature for this dynamic magazine. Here is a sneak peek introduction of Helena Negonga owner of D’Helen Investments CC.
Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: My name is Helena Negonga I’m a 28 year old mother of two, currently working at MMI Holdings. My company D’Helen Investments CC was registered in 2011 but I started doing nails while I was still at the Polytechnic of Namibia (Namibia University of Science and technology) in 2008, at that time I was just using nail polish and only did pedicures.
I used to charge N$20 per person, and every time I made some money I would give my mother a share, even if it was just a N$40, she was always thankful. In mid-2009, I started working at Standard bank and stopped doing nails because I had to attend classes after work.
November 2013 I then ventured into renting out chairs and tables and when I realised that business was growing, I decided to add more equipment and doing events management.
In 2014 I opened up a Nail Salon and later started offering nail training. Over the past 4 years I have ventured into so many other things including catering services, cleaning services, marketing services, kiddies’ parties, Educational Tutorials and so forth.
Last year I realised that it was best for me to concentrate on something I loved most which is Nail Technician training instead of doing too many things at the same time. I still do events coordination and catering when time permits.
Growing up with a single mother of 4 motivated me to start a business because I wanted to give my children everything that my mom gave us and more.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
A: In the next 5 years I see myself running and mentoring a beauty school and having one of the leading events management companies that Namibia has seen thus far.
Q: What challenges did you face when starting up your business?
A: The biggest challenge I faced when I started my business was start-up capital. I had just resigned from Standard Bank in 2014 and used my pension money as working capital to purchase stock items, and as much as I wanted to buy more equipment that same time, I couldn’t because of a lack of sufficient funds and I didn’t want to take out a loan or ask anybody for funds just yet. To date I have bankrolled all my businesses from my pocket. It really helps to remain financially disciplined until such a time that you are confident and ready for expansion, and then you’d also have learned the prudential skills needed to take on debt obligations and manage cash flow. As an entrepreneur, one needs to be well-rounded in planning, budgeting, marketing and executing various cost control measures that will keep your business afloat especially during economic downturns. It’s also equally important to closely monitor the micro and macro business environment within which you operate and remain cognizant of economic trends and changes (it can save you and your business).
Q: Who motivates you?
A: My daughters motivate me to keep doing what I do, and they respect my hustle, If I simply say ‘’Mama is training’’, they know they shouldn’t bother mommy until the trainees have left and no matter what I’m going through in life, I try to make sure that every week I make an extra income so I can take care of my babies. Life in Windhoek is expensive, and two kids are not a joke, but I thank God for my kids, because when I got my first born that’s when i realised I needed an additional income.
Q: Can you give training costs and details for those interested in taking part?
A: I mostly train every Monday to Wednesday in Windhoek and the first two weekends of each month I try to travel to other towns to offer the nail training. I currently charge N$1400 in Windhoek and N$1600 outside Windhoek (to cater for transport, venue and accommodation fees). All my trainees receive a kit with 28 items, certificate of attendance plus I also guide them on how to run their businesses and survive the industry.
Q: Any final words of motivation for people looking to start a business?
A: I constantly tell people to try and make money from what they are good at and what they love the most, even if it’s in the smallest way possible, always dream big but start small and if things don’t go well, at least you haven’t spent too much that you can’t get back on your feet again. If you try something and it doesn’t work out for you, try something else until you find your calling. One needs to love what they do so you can enjoy it; it’s not always about the money. No matter the situation, keep pushing.
I have been offering nail training for over 2 years now and have trained over 400 young and old women, when I started offering the training, we were just a handful in the market but now the market has grown but that won’t stop me. Service excellence and efficiency is the very pulse of my business and that’s important to me on a personal level too. The moment you provide good service to one person, 5 more people will hear about you and that’s how your business grows. Most SMEs and start-up businesses actually really thrive on word of mouth and direct referrals especially for the first 12 months of the financial year. Hence one really needs to take advantage of and capitalize on every single opportunity you get to shape a customer’s 1st hand experience because that’s what determines your CCR: Client Come-back Rate…