Namchoice switches tracks, serves new products to new clients in healthcare
A local manufacturer based in Swakopmund had to make some drastic adjustments to its product line to serve a new clientèle in health services, all as a result of the impact of the lockdown on the tourism industry.
Namchoice used to manufacture bedding, linen, curtains and embroidered articles for hotels, lodges, retailers and private households. Earlier this year, this market was cut short by the lockdown and the company’s two managers, Linda Garises and Precious Gowases had to go look for new clients or shut down.
This is where new opportunities arose with providers of healthcare services. Now Namchoice manufactures items for hospitals and clinics comprising hospital linen, scrubs, theatre gowns, caps and masks, as well as disposable protective coveralls, shoe covers and surgical gowns.
“To protect the livelihoods of our employees we had to explore alternative options to ensure business continuity. We assessed our capabilities and resources and similarly looked at the current needs of the Namibian people. Being located in Swakopmund, we were acutely aware of the need for healthcare supplies as the coastal areas were initially hit hardest by the pandemic,” said the duo when explaining what forced them to change their product line.
“We found the idea to start producing medical garments and linen was not only viable, but would assist in meeting the growing demand for such supplies too. We also extended our offering to include disinfecting services in response to the emerging health and safety needs,” they said.
“Even though we have shifted our production focus for the time being, we are still delivering on our mission to customise our products according to the specifications of our clients. We have simply tailored our products to meet the greater needs of our communities at this time. We have produced bedding for hospitals before so the shift to producing a greater variety of hospital linen and supplies was not very drastic,” Linda said.
“Many local organisations cite the poor quality of locally supplied items as the reason, among others, for not supporting local. To gain the confidence of our clients, we had to make samples of our new items and distribute them to prospective clients. We are grateful to those who came back with valuable input on how we could improve our products to meet their specifications and the industry standard. Now we are producing quality medical clothing just like we did with our bed linen.”
Precious elaborated on their decision to switch to different products for a new market, saying that company owners and managers should not be deterred by the current difficulties. “Difficult times are times of new opportunities and we have learnt that in this ever-changing world, businesses should have strategies for continuous re-engineering. The strategies and trajectories of larger competitors can also be a source for learning for SMEs.”
She continued, “Now is the time for Namibians to have confidence in their local SMEs and support them by dismissing the stereotypical perception that “it’s only good if it’s from outside”. With a receptive attitude and trust in local businesses, we can help grow the Namibian economy. This economic growth can be fast-tracked with government policies that encourage growth at home as opposed to bringing in certain products from outside that can be produced in the country.”
Namchoice is a proud member of Team Namibia.
Linda Garises and Precious Gowases.