He stares around expecting a customer to make another purchase, in vain. “I only managed to get two customers by 11:00, who bought canned fish, flour and fire matches,” he said.
Sem Petrus is a small business owner in the far-flung village in Namibia’s northern Oshana region.
He said that business proceeds have been declining, following a dry spell. In fact, according to Petrus, some of the products long on the shelf are gathering dust in his shop.
His prime clients-rural dwellers who are mainly communal farmers, have little to spend, said the rural entrepreneur.
“People in this area depend on surplus yields, which they sell to generate an income. It is this income that they earn from selling their surplus harvest that they spend with on our products. However, due to drought and irregular weather patterns, the villagers had poor yields thus there was no surplus which they could sell. Subsequently, they have little money to spend,” said Petrus.
With Namibia hard hit by drought, severely affecting agricultural production, Namibian northern-based rural business entrepreneurs say that profits are declining, raising concerns about their small rural-based businesses’ prospects and sustainability.
Few years back, the wooden shelf in the rural entrepreneur’s concrete structure shop would be half empty as dwellers would spend and buy basic household commodities, he told Xinhua on Wednesday. Today, the wooden shelf is fully packed with stock of basic commodities such as bread, biscuits, soap, salt, sanitary towels, sugar, milk and canned fish amongst others.
“I bought the stock a month ago hoping that business would improve. But to my dismay, dwellers are only buying an item or two. They don’t have much to spend. As a result, my products are on shelf for a long time, to our disadvantage,” he said.
Petrus is not alone. In a neighbouring village in Oshana region, Sheelongo Nakale is agonized by the same fate. “Business is not what it used to be. It is bad,” Nakale said.
Frans Uusiku, Economist at Simonis Storms Securities said that the reduced cash flow of rural business ventures will have an impact on the lives of the villagers and especially their businesses. “The business is most likely to struggle leading to possible closure,” Uusiku said on Wednesday.
“Villagers would now have to travel long distances to buy their household needs. This means that their standard of living would worsen as their income would no longer provide for the same quantities of goods as before, because of additional transport costs,” he said.
“The prosperity of small businesses in today’s business environment can be very challenging…Therefore, in order for them to become competitive and maximise their cash flow, they need to invest in market research to align their production with market needs,” he said.
“It is also important for them to expand their cliental base by diversifying into wide range of products,” he recommended.
Meanwhile, like Petrus and Nakale, some small rural business owners are now seeking ways to diversify their business operation to sustain their businesses. “But it’s not a walk in the park,” Petrus concluded. Enditem