The Startup Interview: Kalitasha

Liita Naukushu, Founder of Kalitasha

“I don’t necessarily think that things have to be charity in order to good.”

“So where did your business idea come from?” I ask. Liita tells me that the idea first occurred to her on a trip to Namibia in 2012 where, working with the Ministry of Health, she was collecting data for her thesis. “While I was there, I had a conversation with someone very high up in the Namibian Government [it transpires it was the Prime Minister although Liita claims that the country’s size makes this less of a feat] and I asked them how I could contribute to the economy when I finished my work in Edinburgh,” she tells me. She freely admits that she was looking for some form of government position, however, the advice received in response to her question was to address one of the many remaining poverty issues in the country which can be addressed with very simple solutions. “It was really inspirational. I was always aware that menstrual hygiene was an issue I’d like to address and that conversation was an eye-opener for me,” Liita says before finishing her pancakes.

“I recall times myself where, as a teenager, I would have my period without access to such products. Today, I remember the sense of indignity that I felt.”

I can tell that I’m unlikely to get any more detail on the product itself so move on to Liita’s own entrepreneurial challenges. For an entrepreneur (I assume she’d call herself one, I’ll ask later), Liita’s had a relatively easy ride so far through a fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh which allowed her to set up her business while receiving a salary paid for by Scottish Enterprise. “It’s such a brilliant opportunity,” she says enthusiastically — she’s marketing this opportunity well. “You get monthly business training and development from LAUNCH.ed and they really encourage you to make the most of the year working on your business.”

“‘Rules are just guidelines,’ but they can give us a common framework in understanding how to build successful businesses.”

I decide to end our interview with a focus on Africa, the problems of which are often ignored in the mainstream media. “Do you think that we focus enough on the problems faced in Africa?” I ask. “That’s difficult to say,” she responds. Having grown up in Namibia both before and after its independence, Liita has seen her country develop its own identity and understand its own challenges but that process is far from over. What she does highlight, however, is that we in the developed world seem too focused on the work of charities in the region when there are many highly qualified natives striving to find solutions as well. “We have a long way to go,” Liita says, but progress is certainly being made. “Ultimately, however, I’d like to see the media recognise that there are smart people who maybe have less experience than us but are making the effort to solve problems in their own environments.” We, the developed world, can aid this process by providing a greater understanding of what has been developed outside of Africa that might help them in their search for solutions, she tells me.

The Startup Interviews

A series of interviews with the founders of Scottish start-up businesses, conducted by Christopher Sladdin in 2014 and 2015.

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Christopher Sladdin

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Digital Consultant @PwC_UK 👨🏻‍💻 | Musician | British & Wannabe German | Passionate about #Startups 🚀 & Transparency in Business

The Startup Interviews

A series of interviews with the founders of Scottish start-up businesses, conducted by Christopher Sladdin in 2014 and 2015.