Car scrapping business booming for Namibian Entrepreneurs by Innovation

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Workers strip a car at a scrap yard in Windhoek, Namibia, on Dec. 16, 2023. (Photo by Ndalimpinga Iita/Xinhua)
Workers strip a car at a scrap yard in Windhoek, Namibia, on Dec. 16, 2023. (Photo by Ndalimpinga Iita/Xinhua)

Local entrepreneurs in Namibia’s car scrapping industry are seizing the opportunity presented by the high cost of spare parts to foster business growth and create job opportunities.

Car scrapping entails buying bumped cars from people or old ones at auctions and breaking them apart for parts.

Gerhard Mumbala, who runs City Plug Investment specializing in scrapping old cars since 2018, has seen a significant increase in income over the years.

The demand for his services is driven by the high cost of spare parts and the country’s inflation surge as locals seek bargains.

According to the Namibia Statistics Agency, inflation stood at 5.7 percent in November 2023. Data from local research firm Simonis Storm Securities released in September showed that spare parts and accessories prices have increased 5.3 percent, and repair charges rose 2.7 percent year on year.

“There is value hidden in the discarded vehicles as more locals opt to buy second-hand cars with cash and seek bargains for spare parts. This has become my lifeline,” Mumbala, an electrical engineer, said Saturday.

While Mumbala deals with various car brands, the ones in demand are German brands like Volkswagen and Audi, Japanese brands such as Toyota, and emerging Chinese brands like Haval and GWM.

Car scrapping has since provided Mumbala with a steady income, highlighting the success and viability of this industry in Namibia.

“To create a niche, however, one needs to research the market for popular car models to know what to buy and what quantity to sell,” he said.

He is not alone. Martin Fotoloela has been in the business since 2006.

According to Fotoloela, car scrapping has allowed him to thrive in an industry with a long history in Namibia, yet remains relevant more than before.

“It remains appealing due to innovative approaches with each era, especially the car models, sales patterns and marketing strategies. But also, as people hope to do more with their money,” he said.

To keep afloat, entrepreneurs diversify their offerings by customizing older cars and selling them locally to generate multiple income streams and thrive.

“We identify cars needing repair and use parts from scrapped vehicles, and bring them to life,” said Fotoloela, a self-taught mechanic.

Meanwhile, the growth of salvaging and repurposing cars has positively impacted local communities.

Mumbala employs eleven young people on contract, while Fotoloela employs six people.

The injection of jobs has brought hope to the unemployed. Josef Shiindi, 24, has worked at Mumbala’s scrap yard since 2018. Getting a job has helped him not only gain skills but also ignited a sense of purpose and responsibility. “It has been a dream come true to work as a mechanic and support my family back home in a village in the Omusati region,” Shiindi said.

The industry also promotes a clean environment by disposing of car body parts through recycling.

“This exemplifies eco-conscious entrepreneurship,” Mumbala emphasized.

In the long run, it will support the country’s environmental protection and sustainability goals, said Romeo Muyunda, spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism.

Despite the progress, entrepreneurs bemoaned challenges such as the difficulty of finding appropriate safe-keeping land and limited funds for expansion.

The entrepreneurs, however, remain undeterred and determined to expand services to other regions of the country.

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