Local chips manufacturing firm, Howard House Manufacturing, has called on government to implement strict measures when it comes to the Infant Industry Protection Policy (IIPP) in order to assist local companies and boost domestic growth.
The company’s Relations Manager Marvyn Pescha said the government can do this by placing a high levy on foreign products and limiting the supply to allow local companies to fill the gap and compete on a leveled playing field.
Located in Windhoek’s Lafrenz Industrial area, the company opened its doors on 6 December 2016, as one of the only two chips manufacturing companies in the country. Almost a year later, the company boasts growth but feels it could do better should government pull the right strings to allow local companies in all business sectors to grow.
The company started off with 13 local staff who were trained to operate machines and handle the entire chips production chain. The number of staff members has now grown to over 30, with the majority of the staff being women.
“We have done what most of our competitors have not done. Not only have we created employment for our people but we have also transferred skills to locals,” said Pescha.
At home, the company produces Gregoz chips, similar to the Niknacks and Simba brands.
“This chips is produced by Namibians for Namibians. You will not find it anywhere outside the borders,” he added.
Metro is one of their biggest clients which is testimony that the product is worth being on the shelves and the company could grow with the right assistance. Their clientele also includes Agra, Windhoek Cash n’ Carry and Woermann Brock.
Pescha mentioned that although there is a need for competition with foreign companies, the local companies should get the same opportunities.
“We are not competing with any other local products. We have our colleagues in the north and it is good competition. As long as we are creating jobs and contributing to the country’s GDP. Competition, especially with foreign products is also healthy, but then the playing field should be leveled. Currently we are struggling to get our product to the lowest levels of society because people do not know us. That is not because we are not doing any marketing, but because the foreign chips is being dumped in the Namibian market and not leaving space for us,” he lamented.
Pescha said the existence of the IIPP is to protect the emerging businesses and local brands such as Gregoz against the bigger competitors, but it is yet to yield the desired results.
“We are not asking the government to ban the import of foreign products, but rather to place restrictions on them. If Chippa, a chips brand, is for example bringing in a consignment of 100 000 chips units in the market, we have a problem if we are not allowed to say that Chippa must rather only bring in 50 000 so that the local manufactures can top up the rest. It will give us the opportunity to penetrate the market fairly,” he said.
On a daily basis, the company is able to produce 20 000 units the Gregoz chips. The Halaal certified chips is one of a few local products the country can boast of.
“We are ready to step in at any given time should government place an import levy on foreign companies and cap what they can import. There are so many local companies with the capacity to step in, but it is difficult if these companies are not protected. So give the locals the protection so that they create employment and contribute GDP,” he said.
The manufacturing company will be embarking on a schools outreach programme to educate learners about the product with the hope of inspiring the youth to support and cherish local products.