Women in Business
EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING
By Dorcas Mhungu - December2010/January 2011
SHE grew up with her grandmother in the rural Amuntele village, and did not have outstanding academic intellect, but she has proven that it takes not only the academic intellect but something extra to make it in life.
Hilma Namupa Shikongo has added her name to the list of successful business women in Namibia, through the dexterity of her nimble fingers.
As one listens to Shikongo narrating her life, the difficulties she went through, and the hurdles she surmounted to climb to the top of the success ladder in business, it fills one with pity and awe.
Hers is a typical rag to riches story that should give fellow Namibians food for thought. She narrates how at 25, she became one of the first black women in Windhoek to open a hair salon in 2000.
As she unfolded the trail of events that has made her the successful business person she is today, one cannot miss the courage and determination her character exudes.
Well known as Namupa, her enterprising personality started when she was in Grade 9 and had to fend for her siblings following a mishap in the family.
“I used to buy shirts from the first Chinese shop that was in Windhoek and sell them in informal resettlements for us to have food,” Namupa recounts.
After failing Grade 10 she confronted Prime Minister Nahas Angula, then Minister of Education, demanding that he find her something to do after his ministry had introduced a new rule forbidding repeating.
The popular field those days was studying computers but Angula asked her if she wanted to do a course in hair dressing and she agreed.
The offer was a perfect one because when she came to Windhoek from the rural areas for the first time, at the age of 18, the only thing she knew how to do very well was plaiting hair.
“With Minister Angula’s help, I went to Total Hair Control Centre and did a month’s course. The college was run under Soft and Free by Martha Namunjembo Tilahun, one of Namibia’s most prominent and successful business women today. With her natural talent to do hair, this did not go unnoticed, and at the end of the training course, Namupa was offered a job at Total Hair Control Centre.
“I loved my job. Working in a salon enables you to meet and mingle with people from different walks of life including celebrities. I learnt how to control my temper, how to understand foreigners, how to attend to clien...
Refer to the Prime Focus Magazine for remainder of article