By Hilary Mare
THE quest or desire to open a retail pharmacy presents one with three options that may all prove challenging. One may have the option of purchasing a franchise, an existing pharmacy or starting a retail location from scratch. Having done that owners are further offered a choice to offer personalised customer service in the manner they choose and may be able to recommend and sell the products of their choice. By taking the right steps to open a retail pharmacy, pharmacists and entrepreneurs have the potential to create a drug store that will last through the generations.
In essence the desire to do this is not only subject to the above elements but requires a sizeable amount of capital that the owners of JN Pharmacy had to acquire and begin their journey in the pharmaceuticals industry. A joint venture between pharmacists, Confidente interviewed one half of the partnership to gain knowledge of how they have managed to bring their pharmacy dream alive.
Who are the faces behind JN Pharmacy?
My name is Nicollete Maumbe and I run JN Pharmacy in partnership with Ndinomuameni Metumo Nashidengo. We are both pharmacists and we have always wanted to be owners of a pharmacy.
Tell us more about your business and how it came about?
We identified a need for a pharmacy in this area (Khomasdal). When we saw this need it gave us the energy and push which eventually brought the thoughts to open a pharmacy in this place into reality. We used to work at one of the pharmacies in Hochland Park and having seen that most people from Khomasdal even up to maybe roughly 50 percent of people in need of medicine came there, we decided that maybe if we can put something here then people will not need to travel far just to get medical supplies service. Our business is basically the supply of medicine to people around this community and other surrounding vicinities here in Windhoek through our delivery services.
What would you say are the benefits of the SME Bank funding scheme?
The SME Bank has really pushed us a long way because without them it would have not been possible for us to be in existence. Wholesalers supply things and on their 30 notice days, they expect to be paid and sometimes this is difficult because some payments from clients and stakeholders would not have been done yet. In this context the bank has helped us make these payments and cover other needs that require sums of money that we initially did not have. The SME Bank scheme makes it possible for us newcomers and this means their scheme is highly acknowledgeable and important for the development of SMEs in this country.
What are your duties in your business?
My duties are managing the pharmacy in totality. This extends to the staff and the stock. I also do the bulk of the administration work though I also delegate other duties to our staff. I also dispense to clients who have minor ailments which do not require one to go to the doctor. Counselling also forms part of the responsibilities I am faced with on a day-to-day basis.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs hoping to join this type of business?
You need to set goals of what you want to do. You need to know what you want to achieve and if you show the willingness then financial institutes like SME Bank would also find it possible to assist financially. You need to also invest in studies and be a highly disciplined worker to achieve what you want.
What challenges do you face in your business and your quest to achieve your short and long term goals?
Our challenges are those that deal with the gap that is between issuing the medicine and receiving the money from different stakeholders in the medicine services industry. This limits our scope because when the money is not there then it means that sometimes you run out of medicine.
How do you view your business growth since inception?
Well, I can say that the business is growing and us being a service provider and strategically located in a shopping mall has helped us scale greater heights considering that we are just a year old.
Do you think the pharmaceutical industry is competitive in Namibia? If so why?
The industry has gotten to be very stiff with many pharmacies mushrooming in the last few years. Sometimes you need to strike a balance between making a profit or breaking even or running a loss. It’s no longer as lucrative as people think it is, so basically competition has really gone up. I have seen some of my competitors having to close down due to competition.
What are your future plans?
Our plans are to reinforce our services here to provide for a greater population. We need to fully satisfy the people around us and that is one of the major elements that we are targeting in our growth trajectory. We have not fully utilised the pharmacy’s maximum capacity and hence we need to optimise that in our plans for the present and the future.
What is your view on the Namibian climate with regards to business?
It was not until recently when people began to embrace the concept of entrepreneurship and hence the cake is now being shared on a wider basis with the birth of many entrepreneurs owing to a conducive business environment. Generally therefore the business climate is positive which also means that there are more employers and more jobs created in that context.
What do you do in your leisure and social time?
I spend time with my family, go to church and have outdoor experiences.
What is your source of inspiration?
Having seen other people who tried and excelled is what really inspires me. If someone else can do it then I can do it too.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015