‘BancABC took the time to understand our business. They recognised the potential in us.’
“Our story as business owners begins when we founded SignXpert together in 2013,’ begins Kefilwe Ruwona. I wasn’t always an entrepreneur.
In the years before we formed the business I would help my husband with his signage operation on a part-time basis. I loved to keep myself busy on evenings, weekends and holiday with mostly administrative tasks he didn’t have time for. That’s my strength.”
She continues: “He was working very hard and I could see there was potential in this industry. After a couple of years, I made the big decision to resign from my job, and join him full time to help grow the company. In the beginning, we were very small: a tiny premises with three staff members. But we had everything we needed to make this company a real success, a strong work ethic, good understanding of the industry and a handful of happy customers who were giving us repeat business.”
“However, there was one key ingredient we were missing. The only way to unlock the next level of growth was to upgrade our machinery. We needed top-of-the-line new printers so that we could expand and diversify. But we didn’t have that kind of money, and that’s when we started having a meaningful dialogue with BancABC. They took the time to understand our business and seeing the potential in us, offered us a loan to acquire the machinery we needed to grow — and grow we did,” she smiles.
“The new machines enabled us do a lot of new things that stimulated the business. I estimate that we grew tenfold in a short space of time,’ explains Jackson Ruwona — who currently divides his duties between being the co-owner and front-line operations manager of the business.
‘We have been able to transition into a full-service signage and branding business. Very few citizen-owned SMEs in this industry are able to make that leap,’ he adds, it is the financial backing we have received from BancABC has given us the confidence to scale up. We have qualified for additional funding over time because we always honor our loan agreements. Never missed a payment!”
Ruwona reflects on the COVID-19 shutdowns and the impact they have had on the family business. “During the Lockdowns, our factory was running at full capacity because many of our clients needed us as they responded to the pandemic. We were printing labels for hand sanitizer bottles and new signs for all kinds of workplaces.
We also make branded buffs which are a great alternative to face-masks. We have stayed relevant to the changing needs of our customers. Our marriage gives the business its stability and foundation as we are united in our vision for what this can one day become, we share the workload, the ideas, the setbacks, and the credit — everything is equal.”
An Intersection between UN International Women’s Month and the ITU (United Nations) International Girls in ICT Day 22 April 2021. The Girls in ICT initiative of the International Telecommunication Union – the UN specialized agency for ICT – is a global effort to raise awareness about the exciting opportunities of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
As a Telecommunications Regulator, BOCRA is the local partner for the ITU, delivering to the telecommunications development. How interesting that the International Women’s Month, whose theme was #ChooseToChallenge, and the International Day of Girls in ICT – 22nd April 2021, are back to back. Both are female and both have a lot to engage on! In alignment with the 2 themes, we have chosen to challenge the Girl Child that, despite the external challenges, the limited resources, success is a choice they ought to strive for. Hence the theme of this Edition Empowering Girls To Be Future Technology Leaders.
We have reached out to a few notable female leaders at BOCRA, who reminisce their life journeys exploring their teenagehood, to motivate the current generation of girl child that the path is not new but the challenge are as subjective as their inspirations. That previous generations of girls, have walked the same path under less resourceful contexts yet triumphed and are now prominent leaders.
These women are an small example of Batswana women who have thrived in the STEM field, against all odds. They show what girls are equally capable to succeed in the STEM field. . These stories affirm the importance of science in solving human problems and women’s role in the STEM field; and seek to empower girls to be future technology leaders; For years, girls shied away from TECH; Things are changing. Tech is evolving.
This is BOCRA WOMEN & GIRLS IN STEM Edition, is one of the initiatives through which BOCRA seeks to commemorate International Girls in ICT – through role modelling; Through this initiative, BOCRA seeks to inspire girls and young women to consider a future in technology, and help students, school leaders and parents understand what a career in tech means today
The centrepiece of this initiative is the documentation of these interviews as Video Podcasts on Social Media, both Facebook and LinkedIn – to help girls visualise fantastic careers in technology; That you can be both tech savy and feminine at the same time;
At the Botswana Communications and Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), Tsaone Ruth Thebe’s chairmanship is not by mistake; She is an accomplished Administrator and Manager, with extensive experience in directing the human resources, finance, administration as well as policies in the public sector for over 30 years.
It is under her leadership as Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Lands & Housing, that Government introduced the Land Administration Procedures, Capacity and Systems (LAPCAS) Programme – encompassing land administration processes, computerisation of land records, land registration and capacity building; She also served as the Permanent Secretary of the then Ministry of Transport & Communications, whose mandate included eGov and supervision of BOCRA, which she now leads as Board Chairperson
She successfully managed large organizations with employees of between 5 000 to 20,000 people. She also managed development and recurrent budgets in excess of P2 billion. At present, Thebe is but a captain of Botswana’s digital transformation strategy at BOCRA. As the Board Chair, her mandate is, among others, to: promote and ensure enhanced performance in the communications sector, the very sector central to the country’s digital transformation.
Further to that, she is mandated to ensure that BOCRA imposes a universal access and service levy on identified operators for purpose of funding universal access to communications as well as promote and ensure universal access in respect to provision of communications services and effective regulation of the regulated sectors.
It is no small task. In this era of the Fourth industrial Revolution (4IR), where the world is racing towards digital transformation, only a strong and visionary leader could be mandated with such a task. Thebe is one of the first women in Botswana to be entrusted with such a mammoth task. It can only prove her as a leader extraordinaire.
She leads a Board that is mandated to, among others; promote and ensure enhanced performance in the communications sector; impose a universal access and service levy on identified operators for purpose of funding universal access to communications; promote and ensure universal access in respect to provision of communications services; and effective regulation of regulated sectors.
Most importantly, BOCRA regulates the entire communications industry, a multi-billion Pula industry which envelopes three giant mobile phone companies; Further, BOCRA regulates private radio stations. The Authority also regulates several. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Botswana. Thebe joined the BOCRA board in March 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thebe’s arrival at BOCRA is rather complemented by her vast experience in governance, administration, management, strategic leadership and most importantly project development and implementation. Having been part of a team that enabled the births of Botswana’s LAPCAS and e-Government projects, her appointment could not have been more relevant.
“I knew that with my experience I would help enhance access to communication in Botswana, which is key in government’s digitization plans,” she opines. It was more so because her appointment came at a time when COVID-19 had just struck. Botswana at that time experienced its first lockdown. The economy was at a standstill, compelling almost all sectors to innovate and run businesses through digital means. Although COVID-19 disrupted BOCRA’s planned projects, Thebe and her team were not discouraged, for they knew, the time to innovate had come.
With the entire communications industry under her stewardship, Thebe and her team, influenced for data and broadband prices to be reduced to enhance affordability. The mobile phone companies obliged, which led to ease of access to information in Botswana, especially during COVID-19 where social distance physical interactions impossible. Mobile phone penetration and data usage soared as a result.
BOCRA PROJECTS IMPLEMENTED DESPITE COVID-19
Thebe says the Universal Access Service Fund (UASF) is a funding instrument designed to achieve universal access through monies collected from identified communications service providers. She adds that the Fund periodically develops strategic plans which guide the development and implementation of specific projects to assist in achieving ubiquitous services.
“Although it is overseen and managed by BOCRA, it is an independent Fund, governed through the Board of Trustees. The UASF seeks to ensure that all Batswana have access to a set of basic yet essential communications services at affordable prices.
While guarding against market distortions, the Fund focuses its assistance on areas which are beyond the reach of communications services, enabling underserved and unserved communities to connect with other populations and take advantage of the opportunities and benefits that come with access to broadband Internet and other ICT services,” explains Thebe.
To fulfil this mandate, the UASF periodically develops strategic plans that outline priority programmes or projects that would require financial assistance. This is done in consultation with industry stakeholders. Three key areas previously are schools connectivity, expansion of Voice Coverage and Expansion of Voice Coverage for Private Broadcasters.
Through the UASF Fund, one of the projects which BOCRA implemented was connectivity in 68 schools in the Kgalagadi, Mabutsane and Gantsi area. Currently, BOCRA is busy connecting schools in the Kweneng area. “We expect 119 schools to be connected. Our aim is to ensure that in areas which are beyond the reach of communications services, we bring connectivity,” she notes, adding that connectivity is also extended in some instances to commercial areas like farms.
BOCRA through the fund, according to Thebe, also subsidises private radio stations to ensure connectivity in areas where to the radio stations, there is no commercial value. “What we want to do, which also in line with the United Nations (UN) requirements, is to ensure that in all parts of Botswana, there is a certain minimum requirement of communication.” asserts Thebe.
Home of Table Mountain and Robben Island now has one more four-star national wonder on their list, Cresta Grande Cape Town.
Cresta Marakanelo Limited was proud to support and celebrate its sister company Cresta Hotels, as they opened their doors to the scenic Cape Town hotel, the first time the hotel chain has operated in South Africa’s internationally renowned global tourism ‘capital’.
Cresta Marakanelo Limited operates 11 hotels in Botswana and 1 hotel in Lusaka, Zambia. Sister Company Cresta Hotels, operates 5 hotels in Zimbabwe; making the Cape Town property the 6th Hotel in the Cresta Hotels portfolio The name Cresta Grande Cape Town is reflective of the magnitude and refinement of the 19-story establishment, which is situated in the heart of the Mother City.
“Cresta Grande Cape Town was formally opened on Thursday, April 15, 2021. We as Cresta Marakanelo Limited were very excited to be a part of the unveiling of the new addition to the Group.” stated Mokwena Morulane, Cresta Marakanelo Limited Managing Director.
Cresta Grande hotel has 242 elegant bedrooms, that provide scenic views of the Table Mountain and refreshing oceanic views a stone-throw away. A series of conference and banqueting rooms, a 24-hour café, bar and lounge, gymnasium, sauna and steam room, covered and access-controlled parking area, and outdoor swimming pool with sundeck make it ideal for both business leisure.
Travelers from all corners of the earth can now indulge in the beauty, class and exclusivity of yet another Cresta Group masterpiece. Experience authentic global modern metropolitan experience dovetailed with true African hospitality and bespoke service.
“If you yearn to savor scenic landscape views, aesthetic hotel features and superior service, then, come home to Cresta Grande Cape Town.” noted Jean Pierre Moggee, Cresta Grande Cape Town General Manager.
We are optimistic that the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines will provide much needed stimulation of the local and international travel industry. Our priority as the tourism industry is to emphasise safety and get local and global economy firing again. This new addition to the Group will allow for experiences of True African Hospitality, where our guests can enjoy the scenic cosmopolitan Cape Town, enjoy a direct flight to, and stay with us at our Cresta Maun properties; providing the perfect Gateway to the Okavango Delta.
Travelers can further enjoy our Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa, which is situated on the banks of the magical Chobe River. Our Cresta properties will continue to maintain extra cleaning protocols and minimal touchpoint experience and will ensure that staff and guests alike take all due COVID-19 precautions.” concludes Morulane.