From street vendor to welder

25 October 2017 | Business

After spending about 10 years selling vegetables in the streets of Okahao in the Omusati Region, 38-year-old Immanuel Shekuza has reinvented himself as a welder.

Ewi lyaNooli caught up with Shekuza at his house in Okahao, which is also his workplace.

Shekuza did not attend any welding course before starting the business, but says he used to help his grandfather with welding when he was a child.

He recalls how he used to play with his grandfather's welding equipment when he was left alone with them, which he says is where his passion for welding started.

“I remember when I was a young boy I used to play with grandfather's welding equipment. You know as a kid when you see that someone is doing something you want to imitate them, therefore I used to attempt welding when my grandfather left his stuff unattended,” Shekuza says.

Asked why he no longer wanted to be a street vendor, he said it became too difficult because the town council chased vendors from the streets.

“The council used to move us from one spot to another over the years but four months ago, I decided to call it quits and do something I was more passionate about and I then decided to do welding,” he said. Shekuza used his savings to buy a welding machine and the necessary material to get his business off the ground.

He started off by welding beds. He makes beds from scratch or repairs beds his customers bring to him.

Asked what motivates him to continue with his business, Immanuel said his customers give him positive feedback after purchasing his products.

“When people pass by here or when they buy my products, they make remarks that motivate me to continue. They say things such as I should have become a welder a long time ago.”

Asked where he sees himself in the next few years, Shekuza said he does not know what the future has in store for him but he will grab whatever business opportunity presents itself.

“If it rains well and the mopane worms are available in abundance, which is a good business here, I will sell mopane worms and with that money I will be able to buy more materials for my welding business,” Shekuza said.

Shekuza said to make a success in life one should be determined and able to make the best of any challenge because nothing is impossible.

He also talked about the unemployed young men and women in his community who are not using their talents to become self-employed and support their families. According to him some young people have the necessary know-how but they offer their services at an unreasonable price.

“There are guys in this community who went to vocational training centres and obtained qualifications in fields such as welding but they are unemployed simply because they demand a lot of money for their services and on that basis they end up being at home doing nothing,” Shekuza said.