No matter how one words it, there is no getting around the fact that the automotive industry is a male-dominated empire. Everywhere you take a glance, men are the ones leading the market as they engineer, race, repair, and design the cars driven. It isn’t that women are not welcome into the automotive field; it just seems that for some reason women are very rarely at the forefront of determining which direction the automotive realm will take. Despite the underrepresentation of women within the automotive industry, Wangara Automotive Group is changing the status quo and defying against all odds.
Wangara which is named after a precolonial gold mine in Ghana is owned and run by four childhood female friends who specialize in different professions. Of the four, one is a computer scientist, one holds a Master in Business Administration, and another is an accountant and the one who is an administrator. The managing director of Wangara, Elizabeth Asino-Joseph says that they came together to get into business that would tackle something that will contribute to the wellbeing of Namibians. “That is how we ended up in the automotive industry to be a company that helps people who get busy with the roads. Our aim is to have a one stop shop that offers all automotive services that one would want,” explains Elizabeth.
Wangara became a formal automotive shop in 2014 in the Northern Industrial followed by another branch in Ongwediva and eventually they opened their headquarters in Prosperita. Elizabeth says that although Wangara is a female run company, the business is the same like any other. “We start at 7:30 in the morning, running around with clients and other administrative activities. It’s quite busy,” she says.
The fact that the automotive industry is a white male dominated industry Elizabeth says that it gets difficult to penetrate. Some people feel that if it is a black owned business and therefore it is not efficient and would rather prefer another service provider. Nevertheless, Elizabeth remains ambitious and determined saying that it requires hard work to survive in such an industry. “At the beginning people thought we were just women and we couldn’t cope but we have come this far and I believe that we have done a good job so far. We are making our mark in the industry,” says the driven Elizabeth.
In maintaining their values, at Wangara they make certain that their technicians are trained on a regular basis to ensure that they are up to date with the latest automotive technology. Along with the tyre fitment, wheel alignment and wheel balancing Wangara also offer services such as tyre supplies, vehicle tracking, vehicle leasing, mobile alignment, brakes and shock services and fleet management to mention a few.
The Wangara centre is also convenient enough for its customers allowing them to sit and wait for their vehicle to be serviced. Alternatively if a client wants to go to the shops while their car is being serviced, Wangara offers them a ride to the shopping mall and returns them to collect their vehicles upon the completion of service. Wangara also has advanced machines which align cars according to the exact manufacture’s specifications compared to other machines which only allow one to align within a particular group of vehicles.
Elizabeth who is an entrepreneur by heart says that the automotive industry is a very enjoyable one and she’s happy to be offering jobs to young people and helping families. She narrates that she started involving herself in her father’s businesses at the early age of seven and thus it really keeps her going to realise that her employees depend on the business for survival and would want to see them living better and growing.
As most people will be driving to different places during the festive season, Elizabeth advises the people who will be driving out of town to visit a tyre shop and check their balancing, the wheel alignment of their cars and check if the tyres are in a good condition to drive. She also urges car owners to make use of nitrogen when inflating their tyres. “Normal air is not convenient for the tyres because they expand when it is hot and contract when it is cool which makes the tyre to likely burst. With nitrogen the temperature stays constant and the tyre is not prone to bursting like the normal tyres.
It is utterly cheerful that women are rising and growing on the car game too. With the right education, best equipment and well qualified technicians Wangara is bound to grow and fulfill their vision of keeping the Namibian roads safe by ensuring that their customers get the best services.