Launch Magazine Namibia features the dynamic duo Naambo and Meameno, owners of Westlane Pharmacy and Mega Pharmacy. The Duo are also in pursuit of their Master’s Degree in Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Namibia.
Qs: What does your business entail? What Challenges did you face when starting your business? What should be done to create an SME culture in Namibia? And, Final words of motivation?
As: Westlane Pharmacy has two retail pharmacies and one pharmaceutical distribution company under its belt. We have been in operation for about two and a half years. Westlane Pharmacy is located at the Westlane shopping Centre in Pioneerspark Ext 1 and Mega pharmacy located at the Pupekewitz Mega shopping Centre in Kleine Kuppe. Westlane pharmacy was first opened in March 2015 and Mega Pharmacy in July 2016 respectively.
Like with many SMEs, the biggest challenge was start-up capital. We struggled for over a year to get financial assistance. The biggest drawback was lack of collateral to secure bank loans. Eventually, the Development Bank of Namibia, came to our rescue and our dream was realized.
Things have not been easy and we continued to face more challenges. Firstly, we needed to establish clientele and like any other business it takes time and money for marketing and advertising. However, we are proud to say today that, we have a good client base.
Financial and business management was another challenge since none of us had business management background. We needed to learn how business operations work as we go.
Another challenge was Human resource management. Establishing a good work force can be quite challenging. You need to choose your team very well. Your employees can make you or break you because they are the face of the business.
We had to make Sacrifices, paying ourselves the bare minimum to survive. We came up with a plan to rotate at different pharmacies around the country. One would spend 2-3 weeks at Westlane and the other would spend 2-3 weeks at another pharmacy working for someone else. We would rotate every 2-3 weeks. We would also spend our spare time working at different pharmacies after hours. We always had at least two/ three jobs.
SMEs contribute significantly to the economy of the country. They provide jobs and help maintain families. SMEs in Namibia need a lot of support from the government in coming up with policies that protect and help SMEs from competition for example, from banking institutions with regards to provision of collateral-free loans. The SME bank helped a lot but with its closure I am not certain about what will become of SMEs in this country.
Being self- employed is not easy but it has its rewards. It is vital to always remain focused and consistent. Naambo’s three most important steps to being a smart business woman are firstly, surround yourself with hardworking friends. Secondly, get a business mentor to learn from and thirdly, remain grounded in God.
Meameno states that, it is not all roses but through patience, determination and perseverance it is possible and it is totally do-able. Most importantly do not do it for the money but for the satisfaction that your clients get from your service.