06 Sep 2015 12:50pm
By Patience Smith
KEETMANSHOOP, 06 SEP (NAMPA) Shukuru Thomas Makota is a 34-year old vibrant and confident entrepreneur from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
He exhibits at the Keetmanshoop Show that is hosted in a town vastly different from his home thousands of kilometres away in East Africa.
Three years ago, his independent spirit put him on the path to selling products at shows and fairs all over Africa. His next stop, after the Keetmans show, is the Grootfontein Agricultural Show. His previous stop was the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair.
After the northern show, he rushed off to Johannesburg, South Africa to restock before returning in time for new customers in Keetmanshoop.
His plan is to clear all the stock here as well.
Makotas stall is filled with various items ranging from toys, hats and mass-produced art to handbags, shoes and electronic accessories such as cables for mobile devices. Looking at his stall and finding something unique would be hard, as majority of the items can also be found at any shopping mall or centre in Namibia.
Is it worth his while and effort to exhibit in small towns?
Absolutely! Makota nods firmly.
With a broad smile from cheek to cheek, he reaches into his pocket and takes out a wad of cash nearing N.dollars 5 000 that he made in just one day.
He rents the stall for N.dollars 1 000 for the duration of the show and is able to cover his travel and accommodation expenses. He camps with his own tent if necessary.
It is not a certainty that you will make enough at a given show, but that is not what an entrepreneur thinks about; you have to take risks, he says.
Makota notes that he visits countries and new destinations not as a tourist, but with the mentality to explore markets, to do business and make money.
He observes that many Namibians travel and are exposed to the world outside, which is good for expanding views and opportunities, but urges young men and women to take risks.
Forget fear, just go for it, he says in earnest.
Speaking eloquently, Makota explains how he decides on buying the stock potential customers may prefer, the logistics of ferrying goods using public transport, and his interactive techniques that help him entice customers.
He is clearly intelligent and successful.
Makota, the owner of Kalesha Trading, says it works because he works; fast and hard.
Kalesha means learn or read in Swahili.
Makota already made a booking to exhibit in Vietnam later this year, where he intends to sell raw African products and while there, he intends to buy shoes and small electronic equipment to sell back in Africa. Vietnam boasts many factories for international shoe and clothing brands.
I suspect that in a few years, Vietnam will be on its way to becoming an economic force like a small China, he says, expounding on the industrious nature of the Vietnamese and the products currently being made in the Asian nation.
A child and parent approaches and in a barely-visible move, Makota reaches for a toy and hands it to the boy to test.
Do you like it, he asks non-intrusively.
The transaction is smooth and convincing; a happy customer walks off.
With such skills, a positive and intelligent attitude, it is no wonder lone-businessman Makota wins much of the time.
The Keetmanshoop Show took place from Wednesday to Saturday. It celebrated its 60th anniversary this year.