Entrepreneur stranded in India after expo

NAMIBIAN entrepreneur Risto Ashikoto, the chief executive officer of Namaloe Vera Products, is stranded in Mumbai, India, after missing his flight to Windhoek on 3 March, and he has no money to book another flight.Ashikoto had gone to India for the Pharma Live Expo from 1 to 3 March, which was organised by the Indo-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“It was one of those expos one would not like to miss. I got exposed to the world of pharmaceuticals and will come and implement some of the ideas in our country,” he said of the expo.

His company manufactures Kalahari melon seed oil, tissue oil and Kalahari melon seed instant porridge, which he says has health benefits.

“It is based on traditional knowledge and will bring economic benefits to rural communities who produce and deliver the Kalahari melon seeds to our company,” he said.

He said he had missed his flight that was scheduled for 02h40 because of different time zones in India.

Ashikoto said he paid for his flight to Mumbai, with the cheapest flight ticket costing N$7 129, while the organisers paid for accommodation for the first three days in Mumbai. He also paid for accommodation for his last two days in Mumbai at N$1 400 a night.

He said he contacted Gabriel Sinimbo, the Namibian High Commissioner to India in Delhi, for help, but was allegedly told the embassy could not help arrange for temporary accommodation because the two cities were a few hours' flight from each other.

“Unfortunately, no Namibian citizen is living in Mumbai where you could be accommodated temporarily. I could have assisted you with accommodation if you were in Delhi,” read a message allegedly sent by Sinimbo.

“With regards to financial assistance, all our missions don't have funds or any budget allocation to assist with flight tickets or accommodation.

“Kindly explore if friends or family in Namibia can urgently raise some funds for you,” the message continued.

Ashikoto said he also contacted his bank on Saturday for assistance, but was told it was presently not possible, because “the process of the business OD (overdraft) is a bit complicated to get while you are not around”.

He said his company has started making money from the Kalahari seed products and he would be able to repay any money advanced to him as a loan.

Email: matthew@namibian.com.na