She is fiercely independent, confident and determined to succeed. Raised in the north with the smell of fresh mahangu always in the air, she already decided then that inequality, unequal pay and a lack of women entrepreneurs will not stop her from living her dreams.
Today, Eunice Nghifikwa has a full-time job. She is a first-year law student and an adamant entrepreneur who wants to put her mahangu products on the shelves of every supermarket. This remarkable woman from Oshakati says Namibians, in general, are not lazy, but they rely too much on the government to do everything for them.
“The food industry is a very sustainable avenue and I believe one person can make a difference in making Namibians less dependent on imports from neighbouring countries. We do not have to import some 20,000 tonnes of mahangu and sorghum every year. Mahangu is so tasteful and nutritious: it should be available on every supermarket shelf. And that is my aim,” says this lady who believes in a six-day week and 12-hour day.
“I don’t believe being a woman has held me back or altered my chances of success. Being a successful businesswoman really comes down to personality. I always think of my family and those around me who need to be assisted,” she says. “My mother lives in Tsumeb and she made me aware of the demand for good quality mahangu among the residents. I contacted two of my friends’ families who grow mahangu and we sealed a deal for them to deliver to Tsumeb. From there, my mother distributes to OK shop in Tsumeb and Otavi. And to me in Windhoek. I still sell from my house, but that is about to change,” she says.
She is about to launch her product in 5kg and 10kg bags after completing a study on the demand for mahangu in Windhoek.
“Many people I have interviewed are of the opinion that the available mahangu is not of superior quality. That is where I have the edge because my two suppliers’ products are simply the best. I have started negotiations with some supermarkets and other outlets to test the latter and feedback has been positive. Meanwhile, I have sorted out the quality of my bags and the printing on them, and we are almost set to make my dream come true,” she notes with great enthusiasm.
She says sporadic rainfall has affected the production of all crops this season, but her suppliers are confident they will be able to supply enough mahangu of the highest quality. A bumper harvest does not come on a silver platter and small-scale farmers now rely on conservation agriculture and do not disc-harrow their fields, but rip-furrow in order to conserve water in the soil, says she.
Successful female entrepreneurs are always passionate about what they do because they tend to create businesses around the things they enjoy, says Nghifikwa, adding that she builds her entire life on the pillars of self-belief, ambition, confidence, passion, sense of purpose, hard work and persistence.