Seven ladies, one dream

25 April 2018 | Local News

A group of seven women who have a chair repair and upholstery workshop in Oshakati say the primary focus of their business is to serve the Namibian people.

This month Ewi lyaNooli caught up with the well-known women of Ewiliko Chair Repair Upholstery who shared the story of how they met, got started and managed to keep their 20-year partnership intact and going strong.

It is said that if you are in Oshakati and you have damaged furniture or car seats, people will always refer you to Ewiliko at the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) garages because they are the best and they are the most reliable.

The group consist of Emilia Shaanika, Katrina Amakali, Rotalia Mutukuta, Genofefa Shituntu, Hilma Amakali, Albertina Shapaka and Fransina Lysias.

Explaining how ther group come about, Shaanika said that in 1998, they approached a well-known businessman that specialises in upholstery, Edward Nashipili for a job. He agreed to give it to them.

Shaanika said that after some months, Nashipili observed the potential of these women and sent them off for a six-month training course to sharpen their upholstery skills.

Upon completion of their training, Shaanika said they returned to Nashipili where they worked with him for a few more years.

In 2002, Nashipili encouraged the women to start their own business and that is how they came to be at the NDC workshop garages.

Shaanika said at the start of their business, the journey it was not easy and for the first few years, they had to fight to get customers which has become much easier over time.

“At first it was not easy. We did not have that much to start with, the equipment was old-fashioned and dated, but, as time went by, we managed to get new equipment and the customers started getting used to us and liking our work,” Shaanika said.

“When things were going tough for us, we did not give up but soldiered on and that is why we are preferred upholsters in the north,” Shaanika further said.

She said that their clientele are not only from Oshakati or northern towns, but from all corners of the country.

“We get damaged furniture from as far as Lüderitz and Katima Mulilo because people believe in our work.

This is one of our major motivating factors because if people from far recognise your work, it makes it all worthwhile,” she said.

Shaanika explained that honesty is one of the principles they stick to saying that as a business person one should refrain from being dishonest towards clients.

“If you know you will finish the work in two weeks but you tell your client that it will be done in the next five days this is not good. The client will come in after five days and you are not finished. Thus, the chances of that client not coming back to you for business again are very good,” Shaanika said.

Apart from conducting business, Ewiliko also provides students with internships, especially those at vocational training institutes.

They further assist community members in need who show up at their workshop for support.

“People come here with all kinds of needs and we are sometimes left with no choice but to assist them. Someone will come here saying that he or she needs money to take a sick child to the hospital and we always make a plan to assist,” Shaanika said.

Recently they were served with a notice to vacate the premises.

The group said that they will have no option but to go home.

Shaanika explained that the good thing of operating from the NDC garages is because there are a various type of business which depend on each other.

“Some of our clients just came to get their cars spray-painted and because we are business people we will peep through their windows and if we see that the car has damaged seats, we will approach the driver of the vehicle to repair his seats. That's how we have operated for all these years,” Shaanika said.

“If we are forced to leave these premises we will have nowhere to go but home, because this is the only place we know,” Shaanika said.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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