Dr Shapumba talks growth, impact of compromising the economy
By Hilary Mare
RENOWNED businessman Dr Erastus Shapumba popularly known as Chicco who in his own endeavour to succeed graduated from being a pole cutter as a child, to a successful business tycoon in building supplies, has ushered and stirred economic growth in the North of Namibia as a prime contributor and a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.
A laureate of the Namibian business hall of fame, business personality of the year and a person who holds an honourary Doctorate in Business Administration and Commerce from the International University of Management, Dr Shapumba has grown to understand economic dynamics and the impact of compromising the economy.
What is your view of business in relation to the economy?
Business is extremely important to a country’s economy because businesses provide goods, services and jobs. Businesses do these things much more efficiently than individuals could on their own. Businesses are the means by which we get most of the goods and services that we, as consumers, want and need.
I would like to thank the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry as a flagship of collective business identity that has come a long way in advocating for the interests of the various businesses in the northern regions and beyond but we want them to do more so that Government and its agencies can come to the party always. The overriding purpose of the chamber is to stand for fair representation of its members’ interests and the promotion of a common goal for economic emancipation and self-reliance. While we cherish the ideals and values of an economically independent Namibia whose products and services should have traceable origin from within the country, manufactured by the indigenous Namibians, this aspiration lacks collective determination.
What is the relationship between business and Government?
The relationship between business and Government is a special one, largely because of the mutual dependency that exists between the two forces. The state relies on businesses to invest and therefore grow the economy; businesses, in turn, depend on Government to create the regulatory environment that is conducive to doing business. However, it is an undeniable fact that only business and enterprise can sustain the country’s safety net. But for business to do so, we must all ensure it remains competitive. At this particularly sensitive time, we need to consolidate our competitiveness. We need to enhance the skills of our people/employees and at the same time assist the country in attracting and sustaining better paid jobs.
How can Namibia move towards prosperity?
Some would say we shouldn’t listen to the views of young people because they cannot have formed grown up opinions. We disagree. The voice of young people matters precisely because they are young. Lots of policies and services affect them already, and if they don’t yet they soon will. Listening to young people can improve policy and service delivery.
Some other countries have advocated for participation based development administration. Development administration requires that in development, people should be associated. If the people in huge numbers do not want a development programme or project as harmful to their interests then there is no need to continue with it.
The decentralised decision making and participatory development administration suggest that governments must take care of such people with immediate effect. In this context, I am happy that our Government has special advisors within the ministries and at State House. But the question remains, are these people really adding value to our systems. They need to be proactive in advising Government- I am happy that they are coming from different backgrounds- but they must utilise their skills, knowledge and capacity to advise the Government. It is our Government and we must not shy away from advising it on what to do and what the nation wants and more importantly the businesspeople. Now often, some Government officials are now becoming tenderpreneurs. It very painful to see fellow businesspeople going out of business because they are competing with Government officials, who in my view, have access to first-hand information on projects/ tenders. I am appealing to those who are really practicing such behaviour to come out and join us here in the business fraternity. If you think its greener here come out and join us so that you can work harder because being rich or wealthy is not from a silver platter. It requires hard work, dedication, perseverance and being corruption free.
You are a role model, how do role models impact economic growth?
When I started my business, I went to visit one of the country’s respected businessmen, a black Namibian business guru Dr Aupa Indongo. The reason for my visit was to create synergies and more importantly to have Dr Aupa as my role model – this was in 1995. When you are starting out in business, it’s always useful to have examples of other people who have created their own strong and successful businesses. And the value that role models can add to your business continues as your own business grows and develops. This is why there is such a demand for business success story speakers and business mentors such as Dr Aupa Indongo. They provide an opportunity for us to learn from the experience of others, and not just from what went right. Often, seeing where other people went wrong and made mistakes is even more useful, especially if they were able to learn from how these mistakes and managed to move on.
Having a role model can also inspire you to behave in ways that contribute to your success. One of my favourite quotes from Dr Aupa Indongo is: ‘Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war, tulongeni ndee tatu ikongeleni omaliko opo tu kwathe oshigwana shetyu sha Namibia, literally it says, let’s work hard in order to create wealth to enable us to help and assist the society and Namibian at large and build the economy’.
Total concludes that leadership is a skill that can be learned and improved. It advises that business leaders can and should engage with role models to help learn the skills that they have. It is also recommended that you treat leadership skills demonstrated by role models that you don’t yet have as a challenge to aspire to developing over time. Well done to Tatekulu Dr Aupa Indongo. Even though we are praising Dr Indongo, we need to utilise him more, use him more so that we can tap more knowledge from him.
Maybe you think you are not successful enough to be a role model remember all it takes to be a role model is the desire to influence people positively, and most importantly the openness (and humility) to be influenced yourself. For business owners and leaders, this means that you have both the opportunity and the ability to inspire and shape the behaviour of your team members. If you don’t like something about the way your team operates, perhaps the first step is to consider your own behaviour and any influence that you may be having.
What is the impact of industrial strikes?
Namibia’s economy foundation is placed in the mining, fishing and other important sectors. These are the sectors that benchmark Namibia’s entry into the world economy. Thus, condoning of an industrial strike by the mine workers and in the fishing industry is a retrogressive and skewed decision which fails to appreciate the future long term effects that the strike will have on the economy.
And the recent strike by teachers on economy?
Teachers went on strike recently causing major disruption to schools. Thousands of children had to stay at home while members of the union took part in industrial action across the country. More schools were disrupted including most of the city schools. It was however not good to see our respected teachers sitting under trees; these are people who are educated and teach our children. I am not against strikes but what I am trying to say is that we need to have tripartite agreements to avoid strikes. Let’s always work together to avoid such actions because it will have a negative impact on economy and country at large. I am appealing to the Namibian workforce to exercise fair balance in dealing with labour issues, instead of always resorting to strikes which are naturally harming the growth of the economy. In the SADC region, Namibia is recorded to be the country that has registered the highest number of industrial strikes and this should be condemned in the strongest terms.
Finally, I was recognised with an honorary doctorate in business administration.
wI am volunteering myself towards my country, to assist and advise the Government and other fellow businesspeople to emulate good examples set for us and add value to our economy. Long live Namibian people, let’s harambee and let’s engage one another for the better living standard of our people
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015