“I strongly believe that inheritance is one of the biggest drivers of inequality,” the first lady told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“If I’m telling poor children that they must be well educated, have the right attitude, and they must stay away from self-destructive behaviour and they’ll be fine, then surely that message should apply to my kids too?”
The 43-year-old lawyer and former head of Namibia’s first and largest private equity fund plans to leave her wealth to her charity ‘One Economy Foundation’ which was founded in 2016 with the slogan “One Namibia, One Economy”.
The organization aims to bridge the gap between formal and informal entrepreneurship in the African nation.
The One Economy Foundation focuses on entrepreneurship, early childhood development, and health as well as professional economic coaching and collateral-free lending.
“One Economy is about providing a fair opportunity. It’s about providing people with talent with opportunity,” Geingos said.
The first lady has declared a war on poverty in the country as a way to change the country’s economic state as declared in a report in the Journal of Economic Structure, stating that Namibia has “one of the most unequal income distributions on the African continent.”
The president who won a second and final term in November and the First Lady are hopeful that the nation’s wealth can be redistributed to address the nation’s poor.
Geingos married her politician husband, Hage Geingob on Valentine’s Day in 2015, a month before he was sworn in as president and they both declared their combined assets of some 110 million Namibian dollars ($7.44 million).
“Of all my achievements, the title of the first lady resonates the least with me because it’s the one title that I have really done nothing to deserve, that I got by virtue of marriage,” Geingos said.
“It is, to me, a form of unearned privilege but … it has changed a lot of my views on socio-economic issues in the country,” she said, adding that it felt “schizophrenic” to witness both wealth and poverty in her life and work.
Beyond lending money to entrepreneurs and giving grants to students, her charity supports victims of gender-based violence.
She is very passionate about curbing gender-based violence. During Namibia’s #MeToo movement which went viral on social media, with hundreds of women naming and shaming sexual predators, Geingos was said to have offered free legal and psychosocial support to victims of sexual harassment.
She describes sexism as a common phenomenon in Namibia’s private sector as well as the media which she attributes to the fall of great women like Isabel Dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman.
“I am not saying she isn’t guilty. But there is a lack of consistency (in media coverage),” Geingos said, adding that she and Geingob will soon update their wealth declaration.
“You will always be accused of everything under the sun in these kinds of roles. But what you can do is put the information out there and let people decide themselves.”
Unlike Isabel Dos Santos who hopes to become president someday, Geingos stated: “I am not available for any executive political function … I am very convinced that you do not need to be a politician to effect change,.”
“But I do feel this deep need that I can and I must do more.”