Entrepreneurs must not travel alone
By Melkies Ausiku
There’s a saying that goes; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”, and although bit of a cliché to start an article with a quote or a proverb, it really illustrates a point I want to make as an entrepreneur.
Fighting doggedly for the success of my ‘baby’, Lefa Transportation, I too have succumbed to the false narrative about entrepreneurs. The ‘self-made’ man or woman who did it all alone. Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson or Elon musk. All men to be admired for what they achieved, however despite the stories that have reached mythical proportions, they did not achieve it alone, in a vacuum or with some loose change they found down the back of a sofa.
We must get away from this destructive way of thinking and realise that we need to work together when trying to create a new product or service. Whether it is help from friends or family, angel investors or simply mentors that push and compel you to reach further than you ever dreamt of, they all are part of the journey to success. In Namibia we guard our activities with our lives and are always scared that someone will try and steal our million-dollar idea. We never think of how different companies and organisation can work together and propel us and each other forward to greater things. If we don’t, especially in these unprecedented times we will all be doomed to failure.
Covid-19 has really thrown a spanner in the works. At a time when the economy was already hurting we got hit, just like every other country with the Coronavirus. Crippling our economy, laying waste to employment opportunities and wreaking havoc on our nation’s health. Truly a perfect storm that is destroying within a few months what has taken years to build. If companies an entrepreneurs start collaborating on offering services and products to clients and customers, we may be able to weather this perfect storm. Sharing resources, giving each other referrals and giving each other advise, sharing ‘best practises’ and not only being concerned about our own well-being. The Namibian economy is a very fragile ecosystem and if one service or product falls away it has major repercussions and reverberates throughout the ecosystem causing major damage.
It cannot be emphasised enough that we need each other. For once, using an old proverb to paint a picture really makes sense. We cannot get anywhere if we do it alone and may harm ourselves if we actively work against each other. Something that we in Namibia are sometimes prone to do. It sometimes seems like we would rather see others fail than see that their success can in turn become our success. Lefa Transportation was one of the very first widely used smartphone apps, we showed with the help of our clients, or financial backers and companies like O&L that it was and remains a viable business. This is turn has proven to be a catalyst for other apps to go to market. Suddenly there’s an array of Namibian smartphone apps and it couldn’t make me more proud.
Lefa in turn supports and tries to work together with other organisations and start-ups and this is our way of growing the Namibian Economy and being a part of its ecosystem. If every Namibian supported and stimulated partnerships and collaborations between Namibian companies our economy could really go far and we can definitely weather this COVID-19 storm we are in the midst of.
Caption: Lefa and Gweri Socks founders Melkies Ausiku and Pinehas Shikulo.