Mobile technology creates business opportunities for Namibian rural youth

 

Windhoek ‑  Rural youth in northern Namibia lacking adequate capital to venture into massive enterprise have turned to mobile phone technology to seize business opportunities.

Jonas Sheeta sells recharge vouchers, which has turned out to be an attractive business despite the popularity of mobile phone banking platforms.

“I was jobless, and I aspired to earn a market share from business opportunities mobile technology creates. I saw that there was a demand for recharge vouchers in the village and nearby villages. Villagers could not travel to the nearest town every day. I pursued this venture to fill a gap, and also because it did not require a lump-sum capital,” he said.

“Business is good,” Sheeta stocks up supply from the nearest town Oshakati every Monday.

“Today, I am known as the voucher trader in my village,” he added.

According to Sheeta, prospects are promising as more villagers buy mobile phones. “The more people buy mobile phones in the village, the higher the demand for recharge vouchers,” said Sheeta from the Oshana Region.

According to the World Bank and African Development Bank, there are over 650 million mobile users in Africa. The number is growing rapidly.

Namibia has 99 percent mobile network coverage across the country, said a local mobile service provider.

Sheeta is not alone. In the Omusati Region, Isaack Kapena has been in business for two years, and his sales figures are increasing. 

“I do not sell from over the counter anymore. I encourage my clients to contact me via mobile phone, and I send the recharge voucher number via messaging platforms. Most clients need airtime urgently. I deliver promptly and they pay me at a later stage,” he shared. 

“I have also employed five agents in five villages, who sell recharge vouchers on commission. That way, the business generates more income,” said Kapena.

On a good day, Kapena said his business can generate up to R200. “Mobile phone technology has drastically changed my life. I can pay for my basic needs and I can help my family,” he said.

While recharge vouchers are a big hit, mobile technology education is another venture trending in villages. Both Sheeta and Kapena also offer sessions to those who wish to learn how cellphones work.

“Most adults are reluctant to explore mobile phones. So, villagers come to me and ask how to send a message or use a certain application. I realised I could turn it into a profitable venture. I charge R10 per session. Although the flow of income generated from this venture is inconsistent, it is far better than earning nothing at all,” said Sheeta.

Minus the challenges, the rural entrepreneurs are optimistic about business growth. Mobile revolution has grown speedily in Namibia, providing various opportunities. “Certainly, mobile technology has created new business opportunities for us rural youth in Namibia and things can only get better,” said Kapena. – Nampa/Xinhua

April 2014
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