“Dedicate yourself to ensuring excellence & satisfaction.
Silvanus Lotto, born and bred in the streets of Katutura, Windhoek, is a youth entrepreneur and the owner of Lotto Runners. His primary years were divided into Grades 1-3 being at Marti Atisaari Primary School while Grades 4-7 were completed at Bet-El Primary School. He then went on to complete secondary school at Jan Jonker Afrikaaner High School. Upon attaining his high school certificate with what he deemed as unsatisfactory results, he embarked on improving his results and getting a driver’s license.
He slightly improved his results and took on Civil Engineering diploma studies for 2 and a half years. However, the burden of funding his tertiary education out of his own pocket became draining and Lotto rather opted to change his field to Marketing, as it was cheaper to study than Engineering. Simultaneously, Silvanus took up jobs in various sectors to sustain himself, such as transport services, tourism, security, retail & sales consultancy, construction, freelance marketing and many more. He now possesses qualifications in Civil Engineering (Diploma obtained in 2016) and Marketing (Certificate obtained in 2017), as well as certificates of participation in a Youth Entrepreneurial Training Workshop (2013) and a Leadership Development Training (2013).
Tell us about Lotto Runners, the products & services you offer and your team.
“Lotto Runners is a professional errand service provider founded by Silvanus Lotto – a consultant expert ensuring both personal & business errands are executed. Lotto Runners was formed to be one’s third hand to assist in executing your daily tasks. We later expanded due to meeting & interacting with people & businesses from different sectors, thereby adding 3 more departments under our umbrella, namely:
- Marketing Strategy: designing different concepts to market your brand;
- Immigration Consultancy;
- Business Brokering: helping to buy/sell & expand businesses, acting as a proxy, business registration & consulting.”
What inspired you to start this business?
“Being from Windhoek, people would always inquire about specific offices and that I should drive them around or consult for them at these offices. The hassle around where, who and how to get things done on time was always a frustrating issue amongst the people around the capital city, however, being born and bred in Windhoek, I knew my way around and could easily maneuver within the city.”
What do you enjoy most about being your own boss, and did you always know you wanted to delve into entrepreneurship?
“The best thing I enjoy about being my own boss is being in control of my own time. To be honest, I always wanted to be a lot of things but a boss? That never really crossed my mind. While working for people all my life, I always had a side business earning commissions more than my salaries so perhaps it was inevitable.”
What sets your products/services apart from those in the same industry?
“The fundamental basics of business operations sets us apart; we value all our customers and handle everything with the upmost customer service, satisfaction and overwhelming professionalism in mind.”
What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?
“As the errand runner, not forgetting it is a new sector in Namibia, Namibians haven’t gotten used to the idea of someone executing errands on their behalf. Therefore, our main challenge was the lack of trust from people, due to them not being accustomed to the service. Initially, how we overcome this was to let clients put in their request without paying for the errand beforehand, enabling them to gain more trust in the service. Usually after the first errand, clients would have gained trust and oftentimes they would then refer us to other clients.”
What is your business philosophy?
“Dedicate yourself to ensuring excellence & satisfaction.“
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
“For everyone trying to penetrate this market, one first needs to know and understand your clients’ wants and needs, because it enables you to meet your clients at the very peak of customer satisfaction. As they say, patience is everything; your client should learn and be able to trust your capabilities in executing their tasks on time and as requested.”
How important is networking as a growth component of any startup?
“Networking is fundamental for startups as it gets you involved in your community and your industry, which raises your profile and thus attracts attention to your business. People like to do business with familiar faces & familiar businesses. Networking allows you to find new opportunities you might not have discovered on your own. Your network has the potential to provide you with insight into different fields, information on what potential clients look for and advice on how you can improve professionally.”
What role does your startup play in 1) contributing to society and 2) in nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Namibia?
“Lotto Runners believes in assisting to shape the society for the better and changing mindsets within our communities. In 2018, we hosted a Youth Motivation Day which benefited about 150 youth around Katutura & Khomasdal. The day was aimed at targeting mental issues, the role of men in society, accepting what was and moving on from the past, positive peer pressure, entrepreneurial talks and planning ahead; the event played host to prominent speakers, the likes of Leevy Lee Abrahams, Ally Angula, Sacky Shangala and Sophia Shaningwa.
Lotto Runners is also currently working on a ready-to-launch Marketing Strategy competition, giving away a free marketing strategy to one lucky Small to Medium Enterprise.”
What recommendations would you make towards the improvement of the operations of startups?
“I believe constant engagements between government, the private sector and Namibian start-ups can really help to grow all these respective sectors into a favorable, inter-connected market. Networking sessions for start- ups would also be a great way of improving marketing and being noticed.”
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 created difficulties for all businesses, whether established or start-ups, and we all had to re-adjust in order to still remain in business. Our contribution during this time has been creating awareness of the virus, and informing clients that even whilst having to stay home for their own safety, they could rely on us to execute their tasks. We were also fortunate enough to be invited to the COVID-19 Communication Center to speak on the assessment of the center, but from the stakeholders’ perspective on the 19th May 2020.”
Facebook: LOTTO Runners