Taking hands to change lives
When Jennike Bolier arrived in Namibia to do volunteer work, she not only fell in love with the country, but met her future husband. Today she runs the Anusa Centre.
15 October 2018 | Society
“All of the children that come to Beautiful Kidz are from underprivileged and poverty-stricken households.” Anusa project manager, Jennieke Kafuka-Bolier.
In 2002, Brian and Pam Kinghorn attended HIV/AIDS and psycho-social courses focused on vulnerable children in order to gain insight into the children's plight. They also conducted research to assess the community's needs and it was evident that a place of shelter and safety was needed. Gender inequality and lack of income made the situation even worse.
The Kinghorns located a dilapidated building in 2003 and after negotiations with the owner, it was agreed that a portion of the building could be used free of charge for a period of three years, after which it would be sold to the Kinghorns. Before long, the Dutch Christian TV Station, E O Metterdaad, provided funds to purchase and renovate the building.
This is how the Beautiful Kidz community-based centre was born. Today it houses 34 vulnerable preschool children.
Despite having established Beautiful Kidz and being of service to the community, the Kinghorns soon realised that there was still something missing. So it came about in 2009, that Anusa – a needlework project under the Beautiful Kidz umbrella – was created to generate an income for the unemployed mothers of the children attending Beautiful Kidz.
“All the children that come to Beautiful Kidz are from underprivileged and poverty-stricken households. Something had to be done about their home situations,” says Anusa's project manager, Jennieke Kafuka-Bolier.
Anusa began with simple embroidery projects which the women produced at their homes and brought to the centre every week. The finished products, mostly aprons, are exported to the Netherlands.
In 2012, Anusa restructured and entered the school uniform business. The project started with a total of six women, four on sewing machines, while the rest were responsible for cutting and ironing.
“We sought financial assistance from Bank Windhoek with the idea of buying more sewing machines, to renovate the establishment and to build a new shop. The bank did not hesitate to assist,” Jennieke said.
The idea yielded positive results, but Jennieke noticed that customers bought their products mostly because they felt obliged to support the welfare initiative. As a result, Anusa changed its business approach to give it structure, a mission, goals and operating procedures.
Three years later, Anusa was able to break even and cover its operational costs. Today it boasts 15 fulltime employees servicing 23 schools.
“Anusa aims to create more jobs and quality school uniforms at a reasonable price. The centre also aims to make a profit in order to contribute to poverty alleviation and Namibia's education sector via the Beautiful Kidz Project,” she said.
To gain a competitive advantage, Anusa is strategically located close to its customers so that they do not have to travel to the central business district to buy school uniforms. Apart from this, it offers personal, dedicated services such as fittings and other necessary adjustments on the premises.
Anusa believes that its facilities, quality and customer service, are of the highest standard, giving it an economic advantage in the competitive and seasonal school uniform industry. The project is on a path of excellence and has more stock available now than before after being assisted by Bank Windhoek with a stock control system.
But along with success, come challenges.
Although Anusa is self-sustainable, its profit margin is minimal. To overcome this, it has planned on expanding its premises to stock more products and materials.
Beautiful Kidz and Anusa have positively impacted people's lives and have seen many success stories. Most of their young beneficiaries are now furthering their studies at various tertiary institutions around the country while others have been deployed into the job market.
Today, it has two community-based centres: One in Katutura and the other in Ovitoto, near Okahandja. These facilities offer education, youth, sport and outreach programmes to the communities they serve, especially the children.