Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Marita Walter (MW): I have a background in journalism, media and social studies, and concentrated my writing on travel, tourism, conservation and related industries, before quitting my job to become an entrepreneur.
MB: What led you to start Ebikes4Africa?
MW: As part of my job as journalist, I attended a tourism conference that included a keynote speech by the then Director of Tourism (a respected member of the local tourism sector). As part of his message, he said, “If you keep on doing what you always did, you’ll keep on getting what you always got”, and these words got me thinking about my role as journalist and the impact I was making through my writing.
Some time after that (actually, it was quite a number of years), I sat down one night with my partner and we made a list of all our skills and shared passions and decided that we’d both take the plunge, quit our careers, and dedicate our time and energy towards establishing Ebikes4Africa.
MB: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
MW: In my country (Namibia), accessibility and affordability of public transport are major issues – especially for those from the mid-low income areas – and people often spend up to 1/3 of their disposable income on transport alone.
We realised that there was a gap in the market and a real need for more sustainable mobility alternatives, and so entered Ebikes4Africa.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now?
MW: Firstly, access to funding (to grow and expand the business) and secondly, the lack of bicycle infrastructure (to make cycling more attractive and safer to commuters).
MB: What is your vision for the future of your business?
MW: To establish an ‘E-Mobility Competence Centre’ in Namibia and to manufacture Africanised E-Bikes. This would not only make the products even more affordable and accessible to the African market, but also keep skills and revenue in the local economy.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
MW: As business owners and economic role players, we all have a duty to make a positive impact on the economies and environments in which we operate. What is more rewarding than seeing the results of your efforts pay off and communities benefit from your business?
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
MW – ‘If you keep on doing what you always did, you’ll keep on getting what you always got’.
MB – Who inspires you?
MW – Young entrepreneurs and change-makers from underprivileged backgrounds.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
MW- Leadership, especially leading such a culturally diverse team (as is the case with our business).
MB – How do you define success?
MW- Believing in your idea, staying motivated, and not giving up, despite challenges and hurdles in the road. Success is earned through hard work and faith.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
MW – ‘The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out Of Poverty’ by Clayton M Christense.
MB – What do you do to relax?
MW- I get creative, read books and take long walks in nature.
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.