Passion: The audacity of a born entrepreneur

October 14, 2013, 9:55am

Eenhana - Although Tulipohamba Fanuel Shanyengange matriculated from Haimbili Haufiku Secondary School in Eenhana and graduated at Unam with a degree in Nursing Science, his passion was not in what he had studied for.
Even after working at the Keetmanshoop State Hospital, then at the UNHCR in Osire and then moving to Eenhana Hospital in 2004, Shanyengange still struggled with career identity.
“I went to Eenhana with a satellite dish from Osire, because I loved to watch soccer but was informed that to install my dish, I had to hire an expert from Oshakati whom I would pay N$1000. Since I did not have enough money, I decided to try installing it myself. After days of struggle, I managed to install my dish. My landlord and neighbours started telling people I could connect satellite dishes. I soon realised there was money in that trade,” he says.
Every evening after work, Shanyengange would install satellite dishes at different houses, charging half of what the Oshakati experts would. He started purchasing the satellite decoders from Windhoek and then knocking door to door, installing them for those who had ready cash.
His next move was to register a company for satellite dish installation and in no time, he had a team of employees.
He would place adverts in local newspapers and soon, even Windhoek and Oshakati residents started placing orders from him. While most free-to air-satellite dishes such as wiztech were being sold for N$2 700, Shanyengange sold his at N$1 500 (negotiable), because he had nothing to lose. For him, it was now about the passion.
“I decided to move out of my small rented room to a full house. My wife, Frieda, who was then based in Ongwediva still thought I only worked at the hospital. According to her, my satellite dish business was just ‘one of those things men do to keep themselves busy’. Little did she know I was keeping a lot of money aside from that business to buy us a house. Then, Eenhana was close to a bush, so no one wanted to travel here. As soon as I had saved enough to build a house, things moved smoothly. However, I ended up building a huge house in which I could not stay alone, because my wife worked in Ongwediva and almost every weekend, I would go back to my family. So I decided to turn it into a guesthouse.”
Without any funding from any financial institution, this nurse and wanna-be technician started receiving guests to his bed and breakfast abode. Married with three kids, Shanyengange brought Frieda to Eenhana for the first time in 2010.
“As we drove into the yard, she asked why I was taking she and the kids to stay at Litu Guesthouse and demanded that I take them back to Ongwediva that same day. After getting off the car, I told her that was her guesthouse. She was speechless, because she had no clue I was doing such a business this side. All she knew was that I was a nurse and that I fixed televisions,” he laughs.
Litu Guesthouse is one of the three accommodation facilities in Eenhana. Opposite it is an 8040 square metre piece of land where construction of 26 new rooms, a swimming pool, two conference halls and a restaurant is underway and slated to be completed by November the 2nd when he celebrates his 35th birthday. It is all part of Tulipohamba’s expansion.
His expansion has allowed him to venture into unchartered territories. The team working on his guesthouse site in Mandume Ndemufayo Street is part of his construction company. He now employs 60 people in total.
“In everything I have done, I have never had prior experience, so my philosophy is to give whatever the client wants. I acquired land to expand my guesthouse, because there is a need for such services. Recently, even my construction company has started getting calls to work in Otjiwarongo and Ongwediva, among other things. What can be seen in Eenhana today is derived from six years of hard work. The time to invest in Eenhana is now. The biggest challenge is selling the town; most people still don’t know where Eenhana is. The town council must begin taking along business people to other cities and countries when they go for twinning opportunities to help market the town.”
Litu Guesthouse has a daily occupancy rate of 95%. Different companies from the capital, travellers in transit between the North and the East, NGOs and tourists, make up the top clients.
Concludes Shanyengange who still does satellite dish installations, personally, “When your guesthouse is full and you refer your clients to another place but they refuse, because they only want to stay at your place, then you know you are on the right track.”