SME’s seek local support for growth
According to Salatiel, government should be able to provide loans to small businesses as they also contribute to the country’s economic development. “Government must allocate sufficient funds to businesses especially here in the north as we are suffering. We SME’s here in the north want a warehouse where we can all sell our products at one place in order to promote our products and services to the public,” said Salatiel.
The sole owner of Liiza Shoe Maker, Salatiel’s dream of making shoes started way back in 1995 while working at Etosha Fishing in Walvis Bay. “I had planned on studying shoe manufacturing so I ordered a book on leather shoe manufacturing from South Africa. I started collecting all the materials I needed and started making leather shoes for special occasions such as weddings,” he said. Salatiel’s big break came in 2010 when he received a loan from the Development Bank of Namibia which enabled him to buy materials and a few tools needed to make shoes. Another funding from Bank Windhoek allowed him to expand his business to Okongo. He currently employs 6 people including his wife who is the bookkeeper.
Liiza Shoe Maker specialises in quality leather products such as shoes, sandals, men waistcoats, jackets, belts, handbags, wallets as well as key holders. To get an income, Salatiel says he travels across the country to attend expo’s and trade fairs such as the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair in search of new customers but says this halts production as he is the only one who manufactures the products. “If I at least get sponsorship or a loan, I would be able to train my employees to manufacture shoes while I am away from the shop,” he says.
He says apart from traveling expenses, the leather materials needed to make the shoes and other products are costly as the only quality leather materials are available at Nakara. He says the lowest leather material can cost him around N$15 000. Salatiel adds that he wants to expand his business to other areas and in the mean time expand his current office space if he gets sponsorship and hopes to enter into a joint venture with an established clothing store that can stock his leather goods.
According to Salatiel, apart from selling his products at trade fairs, he also gets orders from customers who want specific designs. He says although he is able to earn an income, times are hard as he is struggling to acquire loans to grow his business. “Making these products takes long as most of them are done manually. I can make five pairs of sandals in one day but I only make less than N$50 on commission,” he said. Salatiel says although he is currently struggling to get quality materials, he will not compromise on the quality of his products. “I do not want to make products that do not last for long,” he said. He currently makes leather school belts and plans to make school leather shoes; however he is in need of a new sewing machine as this would enable him to perfect his shoe making skills. “Making school shoes cannot be done manually, it requires sewing the shoes with a sewing machine so I need a new sewing machine as the one I have is broken. All I want is support for me to do my job, this is my dream and I intend to make it a reality,” said a determined Salatiel.