Final respect is the road ahead. Uaakoje Annaky Mukuma raised herself from the life of a street vendor to ownership of an Opuwo funeral services business which was financed by DBN. FLTR: Uaakoje Annaky Mukuma of Katembaa Funerals, Hellen Amupolo, Senior Business Analyst at DBN’s Ongwediva Office and David Nuyoma, DBN CEO.
In the 90s she sold apples and onions at the Katutura Single Quarters, then she tried running a small shebeen. Now Uaakoje Annaky Mukuma owns a flourishing undertaking business called U.A. Katembaa Funerals in Opuwo, financed by DBN.
Born and raised in the Kunene Region, Uaakoje Annaky Mukuma has a long history of trading. “Ever since I was small, I was a business lady, selling goods regardless of my age. It was my hobby. My involvement in business did not start with Katembaa funerals. I have run a lot of small informal businesses over the years,” says Mukuma.
After years eking a living out of the small, informal enterprises that she was able to launch and sustain against the backdrop of changing economic circumstances, finally she found security in a permanent job as a general employee at an undertaker.
While learning the trade and honing her skills, Mukuma rose to manage the business in five years. When the owner offered her the opportunity to purchase the business, she rose to the occasion.
Talking about preparing the documentation for the application, Mukuma said she did her preparation in Windhoek. “Covering taxi fees and feeding myself was very hard and I would not have made it without the support of the people who assisted me through those long months. I used to walk from Rocky Crest to town to get quotations and to gather the equipment I would need for the business. I can say though, that in the end it was all worth it.
“With the loan, I bought the business from my former boss, got two new vehicles, and bought a few office accessories,” she continued.
She renamed the business U.A. Katembaa Funerals, but retained its primary focus of providing funeral services in Opuwo and surrounding areas. The business also offers coffins, caskets and other funeral accessories.
“The reason why I decided to purchase the business is because I knew it well and it is a service that I know is needed in the region,” she added.
Since she started to run the business she has purchased two more vehicles and can now provide services for more than one funeral at a time.
Mukuma noted that her experience running a business and working with people taught her a lot, but most importantly, never to lose focus and to have faith. Although, the undertaking service has its particular challenges, she said she still faces problems like any other business. Purchasing coffins from Windhoek increases transportation costs and the state of the roads in the surrounding villages causes expensive damage to her vehicles.
Said Martin Inkumbi, DBN's Head of Lending *, "We are aware of the plight of women, as well as their role in the economy, particularly as informal traders. Women such as Uaakoje Annaky Mukuma, who are able to graduate from informal trading to ownership and management of small SMEs are important to us, as they fulfill the roles and have valuable experience of being economic mainstays to their families and communities. We would like to see more informal traders like Uaakoje Mukuma graduate to formal businesses as this is a key element in the transition of any developing economy, worldwide."
“There is a saying in Otjiherero: 'puvitanda ka puvipunda', which means that things do not always go as planned. But if all goes well, I will take my business and my region to the next level. We have been in the dark for so long, it is time for us to rise and shine,” Mukuma concluded.
* Martin Inkumbi was confirmed as DBN CEO in August 2013.