Laureate Ben Hauwanga

Ben_HauwangaThis laureate was born in Tsumeb. After his parents separated when he was still young, his mother then solely raised him, although his father still visited the family regularly. He has eight other siblings.

As a child, he had to sell indigenous food after school to contribute to the household income while his mother worked as a domestic worker. From a young age, he loved the feel of money in his hands and promised himself that he will work hard to make his own money soon. He bought sweets with the change that he got when he was sent to buy necessary items for the family. He would then resell these sweets at school to increase his cash flow.

During break-time, at school, other pupils who wanted to buy sweets surrounded him. Less than ten minutes into break-time and this young man’s stock would be sold-out. He soon realized that he was not satisfying the demand at school and that he had to make more money for more stock. He had realised that the black Wilson toffees, were a hot favourite and therefore made sure that he satisfied that demand by making it the bulk of his stock. Ben had tried so many things to make money including currency trading to raise money. He also managed to compare cfd brokers to find top brokers to trade online.

At age nine he started cleaning yards and got paid weekly. He increased his stock levels but it did not make a difference to satisfy the demand for sweets during break time at school. He arranged with the people who employed him to clean yards to keep the money until month-end. He reasoned that with an improved cash flow he could improve his stock levels. He started saving money and bought a bicycle on lay-buy at a bicycle shop. The plan with the bicycle was to extend his operations. He paid-off the bicycle when he was twelve.

The bicycle fitted perfectly with his extension plans. At the bicycle shop he saw that the owner had big boxes in which the bicycles were delivered. He cleaned the pavement at the shop for a week to get boxes. He put the boxes together to become a little cardboard box shop in front of his mother’s house in the black township, known as “the Location”.

He would put it out on the pavement as soon as he arrived home from school just as other schoolchildren were passing on their way home. The demand for small grocery items was great since people had to walk quite a distance to get to the shops in town. His plans were now in-order. Cleaning yards, selling sweets during break times at school, sweets and groceries during afternoons gave him the opportunity to yet again extend his services: by bringing warm bread from the bakery to “the location” early in the morning. He would get up around four am to go to the bakery in town with his bicycle and buy bread to resell before school to his customers in the ‘location.’

Very soon he noticed that people liked warm bread early in the morning. He negotiated with a relative who worked at the Tsumeb Corporation Limited mine, to give him a thick warm coat. He installed a carrier on the bicycle. At four o’clock in the morning he would wake-up, get ready and leave for the bakery where he would buy bread for his card board box shop in front of his mother’s house. The bread would be kept warm by wrapping it up in the mine worker coat. The demand for the bread grew bigger and another carrier was added to the back of the bicycle. According to him, by this time he was making real money! He now wrapped the other bread in a blanket.

He would store his reserve stock under his bed and soon found-out that that one of his brother’s would steal from his stock. So every evening after closing his cardboard box shop, he would climb up a tree in their back yard and store the stock there before going to bed. The brother was not as agile as he was so he could not reach his precious items.

Human capital investment: He observed at age 12 that he could increase his profit much more by employing another youngster who was not schooling to sell during the day while he attended school. His first employee was then signed-on.

Later in life, after he opted to receive his tertiary education at the Namibian Technical Institute of Mining (NIMT) in Arandis, he had to close down his cardboard box shop. Being from a mining town, he thought that he should follow a career in the mining industry. He completed his education at the technical institute as a mechanic.

After finishing school, armed with his mechanical skills, a keen eye and savvy business sense he was moved to Oshakati where he noticed that people in the Oshakati area waited months to receive parts for repairing their broken down vehicles. He started researching the market to find-out what was actually happening. He realised the opportunity to buy parts himself and sell them at a cheaper rate than those provided by outlets in Oshakati.

He started out with a N$5 000 capital input as he would take a taxi to Windhoek, where he would buy the spare-parts and on return re-sell to his customers. As the demand grew, the trips between Windhoek and Oshakati also became more frequent.

At first he only built his service provision on service kits for cars, but soon realised that his customers do not know how to maintain their vehicles and so he started teaching them how to replace wheel bearings, how to use the service kits and when to apply services to the vehicles. Even with all the information sharing and teaching his customers how to maintain their vehicles, maintenance of vehicles did not improve. The clients would not follow his instructions! This gave birth to the idea of using the National Broadcaster, NBC radio service, to give on-air lectures on vehicle maintenance – with this, he found that the returns on broken parts were less because of his verbal demonstrations and cautions over the air waves.

His business grew, which in turn afforded him the privilege of being able to buy a car and so it was that his first car was a Volkswagen Citi Golf, bought with money he had saved-up. Over the years, the VW Golf became his transport medium between Windhoek and Oshakati. Eventually he opened a spares shop in Ongwediva. He says he would like to make this first little parts outlet in Ongwediva, a monument to show any determined individual with a vision that you can succeed.

He grew this business from suppliers in Windhoek…to Johannesburg…to the world. He has several operations around the country and has already expanded to neighbouring Angola.

Some of his future plans entail allowing his employees to buy shares in the motor spares and accessories business and to teach them managerial skills through a special project. The successful business concern is not as challenginganymore and therefore his focus has changed to other types of ventures such as property development. He recently completed two property development projects in Angola.

On a personal note: He has a very close knit family, and although his children receive their formal educational training in South Africa, this family man makes times to impart the tricks of the trade during school holidays to his children. He says, so that they could be part of the businesses someday. He is not too sure but he hopes they follow in his strides.

The laureate says he will never forget the lessons he learned from his mother who had to work as a domestic worker and still maintaining house with 9 children. His father inspired him to work hard and he attributes his success to his willingness to learn form others especially his parents. In his mother’s words his life rings true:
“Remain focussed and you will succeed!”