A helping hand and a comfortable shoe
One local entrepreneur is forging forward with handmade footwear after receiving support and assistance for his business idea from the Intensive Product Development (IPD) Programme.
The programme is an intensive product development course for local entrepreneurs supported by the local government and run through FABlab Namibia. FABlab, is the first advanced manufacturing, prototyping and design lab in the country and was opened in partnership with the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development to enhance local product competitiveness and bridge the technological divide.
Operi Tjiteere is the man behind, Operi Handmade, and after receiving entrepreneurial development training from the IPD Programme, he now runs his operation from Okahandja, making shoes, sandals, belts as well as repairing leather products.
Like many young entrepreneurs, guidance in all the areas of business has set his business apart and helped him move from the position of full time employee to full time business owner. Operi said that when he started he was working full time and repaired shoes over the weekend.
He said he noticed a business opportunity in the manufacturing of leather goods, which he said could be sold to both the local and the tourist markets.
To take his business idea further he attended shoe manufacturing training and enlisted the help of the entrepreneur incubators, FABlab Namibia.
For this young shoe maker, the design is the key factor in the right shoe, “The design is what makes the shoe perfect. Without the perfect design to begin with you will not have the perfect shoe,” said Operi.
According to Operi he plans on increasing his production in the future. “I want to be able to grow this business to provide more job opportunities especially for the youth of Namibia,” he explained.
When asked what his biggest lesson in being an entrepreneur, Operi said, that “hard work pays off, so never give up on your dreams”, adding that he also learnt what advice he would pass onto other budding entrepreneurs.
Promoting his beautifully hand crafted products, Operi said, “with the right shoe that is comfortable and made with quality, in the end it will give a person, peace of mind as their feet will also have peace in their expression”.