“We are making it work and we believe that everyone can do it.”
Omwene-Tupopila Haitula, an entrepreneur. He grew up in Nkurenkuru, Kavango West, where he also went to primary school. Thereafter, his family moved to Windhoek where he attended & completed his secondary education at Windhoek Technical High School followed by his tertiary education at the University of Namibia. Tupopila graduated and obtained a Certificate in 2016 and is currently still furthering his studies at UNAM.
Tupopila tried job hunting shortly after obtaining his certificate but was unsuccessful. He thus decided to take a gap year in 2017, the same year in which Tupo Namfood cc was born. He considers it one of his biggest achievements yet and firmly believes that the future holds even more success.
Tell us about Tupo Namfood cc, the products & services you offer and your team.
“Tupo Namfood is a 100% Namibian owned upcoming company managed by myself. The main focus of the business is the provision of well-packaged traditional products at affordable rates. At the moment we have four products, of which two are major selling products. However, we are still planning on adding more goods which will be launched soon. The four products that we are currently providing are:
1. Omaadi Eengobe (Cow Butter)
2. Ondjove (Marula Oil)
3. Omashikwa (Sour Milk)
4. Chicken (Uncooked Marathon Chicken)
What inspired you to start this business?
“Tupo Namfood started off by experimenting with the traditional knowledge. We would produce cow butter and give it to friends & family members for them to experience the greatness that we have produced, bragging about who produced the best cow butter in the village and so on. Most friends would then ask for more and we thought of packaging and selling it. Since Cow Butter is a seasonal product, we thought of adding a product that could be sold even when the Cow Butter was out of season; thus we added the Ondjove/Marula Oil product to our line of production.”
What do you enjoy most about being your own boss, and did you always know you wanted to delve into entrepreneurship?
“Most importantly is being able to make decisions that are in favor of the business without having to seek authorization from a senior member in the business. Another part that I enjoy is the fact that I am not limited to fixed working hours on specific days – that freedom is the most important part of being my own boss.
I believe that I had always wanted to start a business and now that I’m here, I am happy about it and will continue learning how to improve.”
What sets your products/services apart from those in the same industry?
“Our products are 100% natural, we do not add anything to our products, other than what is required to be there. When we say we have produce 100% Cow Butter, then believe that it is 100% Cow butter. The same can be said about our other three products. Our customers can testify to this. Our products are 100% natural.
Secondly, our products are branded with appealing designs that capture not only the local users’ attention but also international users that would want to try out our local products.
Lastly would be our packaging; our products are in convenient packages that enable the users to easily transfer the content from the package into the object they would like to use it in/on.”
What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?
“The hardest challenge we faced was getting our products to all the clients countrywide and even abroad, and still doing it sustainably. We overcame this challenge by coming up with efficient delivery methods, such as having deliveries on Tuesdays only in Windhoek.”
What is your business philosophy?
“Our philosophy is to one day be the number one producer and supplier of 100% locally produced food products in Namibia, for Namibians and the rest of the world.”
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
“Whatever business you are planning on venturing in, always know that it is not easy and make sure you give the best service, the hype will come and you must make use of it while still early.”
How important is networking as a growth component of any startup?
“It is through networking that we acquire new clients, new partners. As a startup, you need to network with as many people as possible, you will never know what type of contribution that a person will bring to your business. Use every opportunity you get to network and see how that person or organization can contribute to your growth.”
What role does your startup play in 1) contributing to society and 2) in nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Namibia?
“Even though we are an SME, we are proud to say we are somehow playing a big role in fighting unemployment in our society; we have part-time and full-time employees. These are the people that make Tupo Namfood what it is today.
We strongly believe that there are other entrepreneurs, or yet-to-be entrepreneurs who are out there looking at what we do and are motivated which fuels the ecosystem. We are making it work and we believe that everyone can do it.”
What recommendations would you make towards the improvement of the operations of startups?
“One recommendation that I can make is mentorship of startups in Namibia. As a startup, one would likely be failing themselves by assuming you know everything from the get-go. It would be ideal to have one, if not several mentors guiding & advising an entrepreneur on different aspects of their operating industry. This will give them an idea of how things are done.”
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.?
Our products are always prepared in a place where good hygiene is practiced, therefore the regulations that came with the COVID-19 pandemic were nothing new to us, we just had to continue doing what we were already doing. We have, however, reduced the amount of physical contact with our customers and have introduced the use of hand sanitizer at every exchange.”
Twitter: @ TNamfood
Windhoek: 081 436 3040
Oshakati: 081 765 6440