Woman of substance
20 November 2020 | People
Wilhelmine Feris was born at Mariental and raised in Windhoek along with six brothers and one sister. She is happily married to Albin Feris and blessed with three daughters. Her eldest daughter and grandson died in a horrific accident in 2017. This loss did not deter her journey in life but increased her motivation to succeed in everything she does.
Feris attended school from Sub A to standard five at St Andrew’s Primary School and from standard six to standard eight at Ella du Plessis Secondary School. In 1985 Feris attended standard nine and ten at Dawid Bezuidenhout High School and matriculated in 1986.
She started working right after finishing high school. “My first job was at the post office for two years,” she says. She later resigned and landed a job at the administration for coloureds for two years, after which she worked at the Receiver of Revenue for five years.
“I made my final move and started working at NHE in the year 1990 up until today for a good 30 years,” she says.
After a few years, Feris decided to study further. She enrolled at Polytechnic of Namibia, which is now the Namibian University of Science and Technology (Nust). She attained a bachelor’s degree in marketing and in April 2020, at the age of 52, she graduated at Nust with an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) – something she had thought would never be possible.
“My thesis, titled ‘The Role of Emotional Intelligence for Improved Performance, A Case Study: National Housing Enterprise’ is dedicated to my late daughter Stanichia. I am currently making plans to pursue a PhD,” she says proudly.
Feris is currently a senior business consultant at the National Housing Enterprise (NHE). She is responsible for the financing of NHE houses in Windhoek, Otjiwarongo, Okakarara, Rehoboth and Gobabis.
She is tasked with the vetting of applications, and establishing whether the business deal is a sound investment for NHE according to policies and guidelines. Feris says her biggest challenge as a business consultant was during the Oshatotwa project where they had to relocate all the residents from the old compound in Katutura to NHE plots, subsidised by the KFW development bank.
She adds that NHE builds starter solutions according to their affordability. The Oshatotwa project was the first informal settlement project the NHE dealt with. The NHE supplied the building materials to small builders in the community.
The NHE, together with the KFW, has delivered starter solutions for hundreds of clients in the Goreangab, Okuryangava, Ongeyepongo and Freedomland areas.
“When I see the smiles on our clients’ faces when they receive the key to their houses, it means the world to me,” she says. “I have been with NHE since 1990; NHE groomed me into this fine woman I am today.”
Her usual duties include managing the day-to-day operations in the office, making sure deadlines are met, managing meetings with clients and staff, solving housing issues with clients, keeping track of projects and giving guidance to her colleagues.
Her advice to young people is to educate themselves. “Don’t look for a job; create jobs, be an entrepreneur, be an opportunist, keep on learning and do more than one job to sustain yourself. I am also proud to say that this year, I’ve been appointed as a distance lecturer in my field (marketing) at the same institution where I graduated – that is Nust. To stay on par with life’s challenges, keep on reading books, join a book club and, lastly, renew your mind with the word of God. Integrate integrity at all levels in your life,” she says.