A YOUNG business management graduate has ventured into the manufacturing industry, turning thorns into toothpicks.

Nadapewa Embula (26) said that struggling to find employment as a graduate is what drove her to start her own business, and the solution was the camel thorn tree.

Embula said the inspiration to make toothpicks was sparked in 2018, after reading an article in which former industrialization and trade minister Tjekero Tweya lamented the fact that the country does not even produce its toothpicks.

“That’s when I thought of doing something about it. After I completed my studies at the Namibia University of Science and Technology in 2018, I couldn’t get a job. One of the main reasons is because of the outstanding amount that I owed the school, I couldn’t get my printed degree,” says Embula.

She decided to act on the idea, and to an extent create employment, to enable her to pay off her outstanding student debt.

Operations started in February last year, and her clients include individuals, and even a few tuck and home shops.

Her goal is to have her toothpicks on every dining table – at all restaurants and hotels, especially establishments serving African cuisine.

Business is not without challenges, however, said Embula, who struggles to source materials to increase production.

“There are too many delayed orders because I have to polish the thorns and make sure that hygiene is applied. The lack of finance to buy the proper equipment to make the toothpicks is a problem,” she said.

According to Embula, she needs a lot of financial support, as well as equipment to process the toothpicks.

“The cost that goes into producing toothpicks is more than N$10 000, which includes transportation, packaging, labels, hygiene products, and marketing, just to mention a few,” she said.

At the moment, Embula operates her business on a very small scale, but her dream is to grow bigger and start supplying wholesale and retail stores.

“I am yet to start supplying to the retailers and wholesalers because that will require me to be supplying in bulk,” she said.

Embula said she has not yet approached any financiers for funding but is working with Start-Up Namibia, learning the ins and outs of running a successful business.

She was also recently chosen as part of the 30 Namibian entrepreneurs that will run on the 2022 Sanlam bridge program. The program aims at providing young Namibians with the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills to run their businesses and receive the necessary seed capital to get them started.

The manufacturing sector in Namibia is dominated by fish processing, meat processing, other food, and beverage production, and manufacturing, which is expected to add N$21 billion to national output this year.


SOURCE: The Namibian

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