Olafika repurposes quest amid Covid pitfalls

By Business Reporter

WE will now move this matter for an arbitration hearing on the 20th of August 2020. Ms Silvia Hamutenya you can (still) remain home until this matter is finalised,” the Labour Commission officer chairing what seems a futile conciliation meeting closes off the session.

It seems like a tough hurdle for Hamutenya. She has worked for 21 years at a local Windhoek construction firm, but now has been retrenched due to the economic downturn brought about by Covid-19.  Retrenched with just a last pay check, no pension, no pay out, nothing.

Through word of mouth, Hamutenya found herself seeking advice from Zimba Labour Law Consultancy owner, Peter Zimba, a 30-year-old Unam B.Juris and LLB graduate.

Zimba is one of the 150 entrepreneurs taking part in the Olafika SME Development and Mentorship 2020 programme. The programme has been working with entrepreneurs and community leaders at local economic development levels, supporting business leadership through mentorship and virtual knowledge building at the grassroots level.

He is one of the many Olafika mentees on the frontlines of business resilience against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am a lawyer by profession. I am legally trained. I was never trained on certain business acumen.

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I practically had no clue about sustaining income and utilising more of my expertise.  Somehow things are now falling into place. I just realised I am an entrepreneur first, then a lawyer second.  The Olafika programme has propelled my focus in life and business to new heights.”

Cases such as the one of Silvia Hamutenya have lately swelled at Zimba Labour Law Consultancy since Covid-19 crippled the economy.

The labour law firm was established in 2017 by Zimba out of the need to create employment for struggling young legal minds that do not fit in the market where experience trumps qualification.

The Corona virus has posed huge risks to workers’ jobs, health and their living environment. Zimba Labour Law Consultancy is often called into action at unprecedented times. He finds himself often engaging employers to be considerate through collective bargaining to mitigate job losses and avoid retrenchments.

“I put together a group of law graduates from Unam and we then saw the need that was in the market; affordable quality labour law advice for both the employer and the employee. It is trite that the labour law advisory market is niche and requires a stand out service provider that bridges the gap of inequality and access to legal advice and service that we see in our community. Our vision has always been to give a voice to the previously disadvantaged and disenfranchised people of our nation and assist them with quality labour and employment law advice.

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And that is done pro-bono,” he says, adding, ”We repurpose the revenue we receive from our normal work and have to strike a balance at the Labour Commission office by helping the less fortunate employees who cannot afford legal services. But I never knew I needed business leadership and management skills. All I knew was law. I am getting that balance now at Olafika.”

But as Zimba is learning to navigate the trying Covid-19 times, he has also repurposed his calling in life by becoming an Olafika SME Development mentee.