Namibia: Victoria Stefanus

Date: October 4, 2018
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“The saloon has changed my life. I am independent and in control of my destiny.”

Victoria runs a hair saloon in Outapi Namibia. She was inspired to start this business by the fact that she was unemployed but had had the skills and talent to plait hair. Thus she opened a hair saloon to service the communities around the hinterland of Outapi town. She says she finds the business very productive because she brings quality and vast experience to her customers.

She says at first she was plaiting people`s hair for free and after attending Gender Links Entrepreneurship workshop she decided to change it into an employment opportunity. Victoria is now a well-known hair dresser among the community. She charges $180.00 and $100 to twist hair.She has diversified her business to include selling of hair products. She also says she owns a blower to blow hair at a price of $30 per head.

Victoria says that through attending Gender Links’ Entrepreneurship workshops, she learnt the importance of opening a bank account. This helped her save a lot of money and to avoid losing her money to thieves.

Ms Stefanus credits Gender Links for teaching her important business skills like budgeting, planning and marketing. Although her business is doing well, her complaint is the serious competition she faces from established hair dressers who charges competitive prices.

Victoria grew up in Outapi and she understands the business environment of the council very well.

The business is not yet registered with the ministry of finance, ministry of trade and industry and social security. She hopes that the business will eventually self-promote or market its products but meanwhile she is giving out business cards, brochures, and using word of mouth to advertise. She understands the local environment and she has good communication skills with potential customers.

Victoria says she was lucky to be included in Entrepreneurship Phase 1 and 2 training which taught her a lot about drafting business plan, budgeting, recording of transactions and basic bookkeeping. She is very grateful that the training Gender Links Namibia provided to her for free helped turn around her business fortunes. She started to realise profit and growth exponentially. She says that writing her I story helped heal the wounds and was very therapeutic psychologically.   She says the programme she has went through so far has taught her to be very innovative.

Victoria`s proud moment was when she received a certificate after attending Gender Links Training. She says she has helped another 2 women to start their own saloons. Her main challenges include lack of water in the saloon, lack of proper equipment like a hair drier and money to buy products. However she says the market is good and her products are sold at the right price.

Victoria is a driver of change because she is a living example of a woman who bravely survived Gender Based Violence to become a successful entrepreneur through the help of Gender Links. She is an inspiration to many women in her community and has vowed to preach against GBV to other women and men. Although she is not highly educated, she intends to conduct a market research to see the potential for growth in her business. She is looking forward to employ more women as her business grows and her merchandise diversify.

Securing registration with the relevant ministries will make it easier for the business to be used as collateral when borrowing more capital from the bank. She also wants to open another business like a take-away next to the saloon to increase her income. She believes other women look up to her as a source of inspiration that all things are possible only if we work hard. Victoria advises other fellow women who are totally dependent on their husbands to start some business no matter how small even like selling Kapana. This will go a long way in reducing GBV

Ms Stefanus says her potential customers are community members and can be reached via cell phone or directly approaching them. She already has a database list of potential customers. She credits Gender Links Namibia for exposing her work to the council hence enabling her to demand working space from relevant authorities.