The sound of gouges, shaping wood into products could be heard from the workshop along the main road in Windhoek, capital of Namibia. There, seasoned woodcarver, Phillip Kambinda was sculpting a table to perfection.
“It is an order from a client. It should be perfect, so I scoop up the next client,” he said on Wednesday.
According to Kambinda, business is picking up gradually after major losses incurred during trade stoppage due to COVID-19.
Namibian woodcarvers are optimistic about business growth after the full economy reopening in September after months of shutdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The improvement in sales is influenced by the special and reduced prices offered to clients.
Since the resumption of business, although it took him over three months to break even, he can sell over 50 percent of his products including tables, chairs, wooden decor items and other artefacts.
“This is a total contrast to the time of lockdown. We could not trade due to restrictions,” he added.
Lucas Rufi also sells items such as television stands, beds and other artefacts in Windhoek.
According to him, although the market is lean after disruptions due to COVID-19, they remain cautiously hopeful for better yields.
Although they had revived relations with old clientele, they had to work harder to draw new clients.
“Our challenge is that some of our clients also lost jobs as companies closed down. But we get new ones coming along in time,” Rufi added.
Namibia recorded massive job losses of 5,748 people in the first quarter of this year, according to the Namibian Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation.
In the meantime, to catapult the market to prosperity, the woodcarvers have embarked on robust marketing of their products.
“We make provisions for negotiation,” Rufi said.
For Kambinda, social media, which he had neglected before, has been instrumental in increasing traffic to his workshop.
“Word of mouth and referrals remain key. That is why each job and product is made to perfection,” said Kambinda.
Wood carving is a significant source of livelihood for many locals.