Electronics company started with a screw driver and a side cutter
It is not often that employees say their boss inspires them but this is exactly the sentiment Christopher van Wyk elicits when he is working shoulder to shoulder with his small team on a new electronic installation.
Owner of Olivia Electronics CC, van Wyk said his dream of starting his own company stems from his days as a call centre operator for a security company that also handled their own electronic installations. Being inquisitive by nature, he quickly absorbed the technical side of electronics. A few years later, he felt he was on top of the technical demands and decided it was time to test his skills in the market.
“I took my last pay cheque, paid my rent and bought myself a backpack, a screw driver and a side cutter. I never looked back since,” he said. This was five years ago. Today Olivia Electronics have five fulltime technicians crisscrossing Windhoek in two service vehicles.
The small start-up installs a broad range of electronic equipment ranging from digital satellite television, sound systems and telephone networks to closed-circuit cameras, air conditioning, alarms, intercoms, electric fences and gate motors.
Looking back at how his small outfit has grown over five years, van Wyk comments that many young people believe they can only get somewhere in life as a member of a gang. “This is a waste of time and it is not cool,” he said.
“I want to be the change in my community,” he said philosophically, reflecting on the day he made a drastic change in his lifestyle. The death of his mother changed his perspective to life. “I promised myself to do the best I can for her sake and to be an example to the youth,” he said.
His break came when he approached Bank Windhoek’s ESME finance branch for a small business loan. These funds helped him to buy a second service vehicle which essentially doubled the company’s reach.
“Christopher showed how determined he was when he started his business. He is young, committed and runs his business in a disciplined manner,” said the ESME finance branch manager, Mbo Luvindao.
Thinking back about this biggest challenges, he said that he always thinks positive and that any challenge that presents itself is an opportunity to find a solution. He added that although start-up capital was the major challenge, he did not let this deter him.
“Business is good and the income is invested back into the business for sustainability,” he said advising aspiring entrepreneurs not to expect handouts. “Be determined to succeed in life,” he said.
Pictured from the left, Ismael Numumbanduka, Christopher van Wyk, Sisko Marumbu and Bonnie Felix, the team at Olivia Electronics who has taken care of hundred of electronic installations in Windhoek over the past few years.