In June this year, Namibian President Hage Geingob unveiled his team of six advisors, a tightly-knit group set to help him run the country.
GSB alumna, Daisry Mathias, who had recently stepped down as CEO of non-profit organisation, Team Namibia, was appointed as advisor on youth matters and enterprise development.
Mathias is working alongside former Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) boss Albertus Aochamub, appointed as government spokesperson. Also on the team are former Statistician-General, John Steytler as economic advisor, and Ettiene Maritz as executive secretary in the Office of the President, Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi as public sector advisor and Penny Akwenye as policy advisor on implementation and monitoring. Former Defence Minister, Philemon Malima is Director-General of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) and former Deputy Dean of the University of Namibia (Unam) Faculty of Law, Yvonne Dausab, is chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission.
Mathias is a familiar face in Namibia, both to GSB alumni and the general public. She rose to the helm of Team Namibia before turning 30, appointed as CEO in July 2014.
Team Namibia is a member-based non-profit movement aimed at mobilising Namibian consumers to buy local, as well as driving the promotion of the production of quality local products and services.
“The board of directors are sad to say goodbye to Daisry so soon in her capacity as CEO, but believe she leaves to make a greater contribution to our beautiful country and we wish her success,” the organisation said in a statement.
Mathias has been a passionate advocate of developing Namibia as a sought-after brand, both to international consumers and to Namibians themselves. “I believe that every effort from Namibia contributes positively to our developing economy,” she said during a TEDx talk earlier in 2015.
“I see Namibia ranking as one of the contenders on the continent… I believe that Namibia is special, desirable and competitive, and that [my] vision is attainable.”
Mathias added, however, that the work involved in building the economy through developing local entrepreneurship, and support for local brands, should not be underestimated.
“Nation-building is not child’s play. It requires decades of hard work and commitment. [But] the challenges we are facing today are not insurmountable,” she said.
“There is an opportunity for more entrepreneurs to emerge who are solution-focused, as we reposition our nation from a good nation to a great nation.”
Mathias’s chief concern remains poverty, and alleviating it was one of her chief motivators growing up. “For every 10 Namibians, four have and six have not. The six who have not don’t have the income to afford a decent shelter, daily meal, clothing and basic utilities,” she says. “Having grown up as a stepchild with three sets of families, I know what it feels like to have. We lived in a decent house. I received a quality education. But there has always been this sharp contrast between the life that I had and the life I could have lived. This awareness never left me. Things could have been very different for me. I hate inequality perfectly. I have relatives and acquaintances who have the same potential I do, but life did not give them the same opportunities. So much potential is wasted and our country is the one left poorer.”
Mathias, who acquired her PDBA from the GSB in 2011, is passionate about youth development and advises young people to make the most of every opportunity. “When the promotion opportunity comes, you will be ready and able to rise up and deliver. I assure you, no experience you have been through will be wasted.”
Now, she is ready to step up. “I am really blessed to be able to make a contribution through the work that I do… to business growth and poverty alleviation, all by doing what I love.
“My desire has always been to use my skills to help improve the quality of life for other people.”