For over 12 years David Namalenga worked his way up from being a cleaner to a manager responsible for services at the Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino from 1989 to 2002. He then moved to the Roads Construction Company where he served as the Manager for organisational development and human resources.Namalenga then pursued his studies in Public Management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Since 2009 he has revolutionised the digitizing of all types of embroidery machines as well as for branding different types of items, something that was foreign to Namibia’s manufacturing industry, an industry which has been a bridesmaid to South Africa for decades.
Namalenga’s education journey evolved from a post-graduation in Law at the University of Namibia; Degree in Business Management at Stellenbosch University in South Africa; and his highest qualification is a Master’s in Business Management from the University of South Africa (UNISA).
What inspired Dinapama Manufacturing?
There was a gap in the manufacturing market after the closure of the Ramatex Textile Company and we saw the need to exploit this market as a Namibian company.
There was limited local supply in Namibia for these services and a lack of capacity. This meant that everything that was being supplied locally was not being produced here.
Our thinking was that, if countries like India or Ghana can have thriving manufacturing industries, why can we not do likewise in Namibia?
As a result, we started small and worked our way to the stature of what Dinapama Manufacturing is today. We saw this opportunity as what we can contribute to the Namibian economy.
Being a front-runner in this market, how do you blend corporate governance while ensuring you get the best out of your employees?
We motivate our employees understand the reason they are here at Dinapama. We share the vision of the company and what we want to achieve, which is to become the manufacturer of choice in the world and how we want to go about achieving it. We call this process internalization and when they buy into this idea, then this helps us to achieve our objectives. The effectiveness of the company can only be attained if every individual understands their role and that is the message we have tried to get across to every employee of Dinapama Manufacturing.
Do you have competition in this arena?
In Namibia the companies need to pull together and create space in the market as local suppliers only service around 0.5% of the market. So we took the bull by the horns and come up with this company called Dinapama so that we can also create employment for other Namibians.
On the 29th March 2017, we were awarded a PMR accolade as one of the best manufacturers with a score of 4.32 out of 5.
The nature of manufacturing is that you get results from using your hands and this is exactly what we are trying to encourage. That’s why we identify people with potential and equip them with skills which will enable them to use their hands and brains to make a living. That is the model we want all Namibians to adopt. If we can all use our hands and brains then the development of this country will be fast-tracked. We are just claiming our primary space in the market.
So what sets Dinapama apart?
Dinapama is a 100% Namibian-owned company and our aim is to alter the mindsets of our fellow Namibians to empower themselves with the skills and hands that they have been given to craft their own livelihoods. Manufacturing is the medium we have chosen to advocate for this.
How difficult is it for businesses owned by previously disadvantaged communities to get a hold on the market in any given sector in Namibia?
It is evident that both black owned and white owned businesses can prosper as can be seen with Pupkewitz Holdings and the Frans Indongo Group. We don’t subscribe to the notion of black and white. We dont see Namibia in terms of black and white. We are all Namibians and we are all capable of playing a meaningful role in the advancement of the Namibian economy.
Could you shed some light on the corporate social responsibility initiatives that Dinapama undertakes?
We do not believe in publicizing our corporate social responsibility initiatives because we prefer to empower people by getting them off the streets and equipping them with skills to make a living. We do not believe in handing out copious amounts of money just to have a picture taken with the recipient and write it off as corporate social responsibility. When you do this, all you manage to do is create a scenario where the person will be full for that moment but what happens tomorrow? When they ask you for more you won’t give them saying that you already gave them yesterday. We look rather at equipping them with skills that can enable them to feed themselves through the produce of their own hands.
Aside from that we do give blankets to the elderly and clothes to the needy from time to time since we are in the manufacturing industry. For example, we recently gave T-shirts to the nurses at Katutura Hospital to celebrate Nurses Day just to recognize the efforts they give and show appreciation for their role in our society. We have also given blankets to the elderly in places like Gibeon.
Where does training and development impact your business?
We always compare it to the university. If a normal degree takes three to four years and we have somebody who has been here for seven years, why can they not be a master of their craft? We do give training to our employees including sending them to trips to India, Indonesia and Taiwan but our primary skills development is done here at our factories.
How positioned are you for Namibia’s development agenda in general?
It is very important for every citizen to recognize their potential. If you have been given hands and a working brain, why can you not contribute to the development of this country?
It is very important to understand the value of hard work because when you do this, you can make a meaningful contribution to the development of our country. What makes you feel inferior to anybody else? If other people have shown that it can be done then why can you not commit to doing it?
There are those who will blame the government and come up with all sorts of reasons why certain things cannot be achieved but before we start shifting the blame, we need to seek introspection and ask ourselves what it is we have done to contribute to the advancement of the economy.
There are those who talk about hard work but hard work is not something that you can measure with words, only with action. The work must speak for itself because if all you are doing is talking bad about others and not working then you are contributing to noise pollution. If your words hold no substance then you should spare people and the environment that noise pollution.