By Lahja Nashuuta
WINDHOEK – Twapewa Kadhikwa is a renowned Windhoek businesswoman. She came in the business spotlight when she opened an upmarket restaurant at the heart of Windhoek’s Katutura township known as Xwama Cultural Restaurant.
With her husband Erastus Kadhikwa, the couple co-owns the Kadhikwa group of companies. She is also the first female recipient of an honorary master’s degree in business from International University of Management (IUM). Her business model is currently used as a case study in schools for entrepreneurship subject as well as entrepreneurship seminars in Namibia.
The Southern Times journalist Lahja Nashuuta (LN) sat down with Twapewa Kadhikwa (TK) this week to navigate through her journey and the challenges she faces in business as well as to talk about her future plans.
LN: Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit? Are your parents entrepreneurs?
TK: Yes I came from an entrepreneurship background practically and genetically. My late father was an entrepreneur while my mother was a teacher by profession. However she was also involved in other business after school such as selling clothes, perfumes and meat. My father never finished his school but regardless of the war situation at that time, he was one of the successful entrepreneurs in the country. However I believe in Africa proverb that says “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, which means we are who we are, because of others. People use to tell me that I am an entrepreneur every time we discuss business related matters and that’s what encouraged me to go for it.
LN: What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
TK: I did not really have a key driving force. It was just sub-conscious decision which means there was no master plan. This is perhaps what they call destiny. I was just responding to opportunities presented to me. I started at the age of 18 as a hairdresser and during that people used to pay me, my service was in demand and I made lots of money. I then used that money to invest into properties and to further my studies. I think after graduation it was then i made a conscious decision. I then started attending training and reading books on entrepreneurship and it is those books that inspired me. So the key driving force was to face the uncommon and insecure future. Of course everyone want to have a future that is secure, for instance a job that will give her salary at the end of the month and for me it was very different.
LT: Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
TK: There is a formula in everything we do and entrepreneurship is also guided by rules and regulations and among those rules are self-discipline, self-awareness and self-control. For instance when you are an entrepreneur nobody wakes you up and nobody tells you what to do. It is up to you to tell yourself that if you don’t deliver, clients will take their money to entrepreneurs who are serious with their enterprise. You need to be a self-starter. There are people who want to own a huge business like Spar but they never sold a packet of sweets in their life. How will you own Spar when you are so shy to be seen selling sweets or to make blunders? So for one to become an entrepreneu r, she or he must know what he is good at and try to acquire addition skills. One should be able to s p o t an opportunity and to tell whether she can be able to manage that opportunity or not.
LN: What are your thoughts on the discussion around whether entrepreneurs are born or just fortunate to have been raised to be successful?
TK: I don’t believe entrepreneurs are born neither raised but I believe it is something that has to do with hard work and commitment. I believe entrepreneurship is a culture that can be learned. For instance my father was on entrepreneur but starting this business was a challenging task and there are other people who were born and raised by successful business people and had great opportunities but they couldn’t do it. Some people had opportunities to run enterprises but they were terrible at managing those opportunities because they don’t have self-discipline and self-awareness. We see children born by entrepreneurs but they’re not entrepreneurs. I believe entrepreneurs are people who identify opportunities and manage to do justice to those opportunities.
LN: How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
TK: Opportunity is something that you find where there are challenges, problems and frustrations. Whenever there is lack of products and services that’s entrepreneurship opportunity for you. When you hear people complaining of lack of transport for school children, there is an opportunity for you to start a transportation business. So there are no opportunities dressed as opportunities, they come dressed in hard work, they come looking dirty. So it is up to you to turn that opportunity into something commercially viable. So I identify opportunities everywhere where there are challenges and problems. In African countries, there are lots of challenges because there are always problems and because of those problems there is lots of entrepreneurship opportunities. However I think what is lacking and a major barrier to successful entrepreneurship is that we are not socially exposed and skilled enough to identify those opportunities or to add value to the resources at our disposal. If you look at our training system, our people were trained to consume and not to produce. We were cultured that if you want peanut butter you can go to the shops and buy and not that you can make one of your own. That culture need to change and we need to educate our people from a young age to be the future producers and not consumers. Entrepreneurship is not about what entrepreneurs like or what she know best. It is about what the people out there want. Pharmacists don’t sel l medicine because they like taking medicine but because they know people want health care.
LN: How would you rank the key five skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
TK: Communication is the key. Remember you are incubating your idea and you must carry it with responsibility. You must be clear on your business idea that you want to embark on. Apart from that you need to have convincing skills to be able to convince those you want to turn into potential clients or service providers. Honesty is the third and fourth is personality. There are people with brilliant business ideas but listening to them is like you are at a funeral. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur you should be very self-confident and strong when selling your idea. Don’t rely on other people to do everything for you. You must learn to do things on your own. Lastly we need to have self-awareness skills, be aware of what is happening around you. There was a story that the reason why Nokia vanished from the market is because they were busy celebrating the achievements until Samsung overtook them.
LN: What’s your favourite quote for describing entrepreneurship?
TK: In entrepreneurship you should set your mind and eyes on the ultimate goal and you must win! Winning is not everything, It’s the only thing!
LN: What tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day schedule?
TK: My coping mechanism is prayer. I know there are those who gossip or drink alcohol, some take holidays, go for massages to cope.
LN: What would you advice anyone starting up?
TK: Know what you want, be confident with what you want do and give it your best. Honesty is the key. If you fail you fail and be honest to tell people the truth that you failed.
LN: Let’s talk about your book titled “Twapewa’s 20 Truth of Successful Entrepreneurship” to be launched on 28 August 2017. What motivated you to write this book?
TK: I have been consulted by different people from different backgrounds almost every day who wanted to find out how did I manage to be a successful entrepreneur, how did I cope and that’s what invoked me to this enriching authoring spirit.