A sign of things to come
‘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.”
Business Banking, BancABC.
You may like
Orange Botswana Continues to Invest in the Youth Through Digital Schools Programme, Celebrating Thankane as 52nd School Engaged
In continued efforts to empower young students across Botswana through the Digital Schools Programme, Orange Botswana through the Orange Foundation don handed over digital equipment worth P53, 731.50 to Thankane Primary School, located in Jwaneng.
“We are excited to be in Jwaneng and to see yet another milestone for impact being delivered. This relationship began with a view towards working together – inclusively and sustainably – give children greater access to quality education. This is, after all, a key goal within our Vision 2036 and even of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is also core to our values and beliefs system at Orange Botswana. Our Digital Schools initiative is a true testament to the Orange Botswana Foundation’s unwavering commitment, loyalty, and support towards the youth of Botswana,” said Benson Lenong from Orange Botswana.
Donated equipment includes but is not limited to:
- 50 tablets loaded with local syllabus content
- 50 headsets
- 1 Video projector
- 1 Raspberry servers
- 1 JBL Speaker
- 1 Laptop
- 1 Case (to contain the package)
The Orange Botswana Foundation, in partnership with the Government of the Republic Botswana, embarked on a quest to empower and educate the youth of the country through giving them better access to technology through Government’s Education & Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP). Orange Botswana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Basic Education and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in 2017, to kickstart a pilot of the Digital Schools Programme in 2018. The programme has seen 16,225 students benefiting from deployed schools, with 102 teachers trained in using digital kits as a mode of teaching. Thankane Primary is the 52nd school being engaged as part of the nationwide initiative.
The Orange Digital Schools Project is all about utilisation and integration of ICTs in learning, while at the same time addressing issues of digital inclusion and digital literacy. The Programme aims to bridge the digital gap by leveraging technology to improve access to education in primary schools such as Thankane.
Thankane Primary School was established in 1989 with 324 learners enrolled from Jwaneng and surrounding communities. The school continues to perform well in the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), and consistently works to ensure children learn vital life lessons both inside and outside the classroom. As one of the highest-ranked academic schools in the South region, Thankane Primary boasts excellent academics, leadership, sports, and culture.
BIUST confers degrees to 297 Graduands
The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) last week held it 7th graduation since its inception with the theme ‘Building a University of industry through a well-rounded ecosystem of economic transformation and innovative entrepreneurship’. 297 students graduated from the class of 2022 compared to the 58 from their first graduation as an institution.
The Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Aubrey Lesaso commended the University as the strides made in the midst of the difficult conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic with potentially devastating impact on the learning of students were thrilling. “Some of the challenges experienced during this period include having to change the learning spaces the school was accustomed to, study remotely without adequate preparations and with limited resources,” said Lesaso.
He acknowledged that the Government through his Ministry is committed to ensuring that they provide quality education to the citizens of Botswana, which is in line with one of the aspirations of Vision 2036 that addresses the need for Development of Human Capital.
“I wish to call upon the BIUST leadership and all stakeholders involved, to remain dedicated to driving the BIUST mission and vision and contribute to achieving the targets outlined in the Vision 2036 National Transformation Agenda,” added Lesaso.
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Bulb World (PTY) Ltd, Ketshephaone Jacob noted that for decades entrepreneurs have been identified as the critical change agents in socio-economic development, and some countries have been a lot more intentional and successful in promoting enterprising. “It’s only in the last decade that our Government has put in concrete measures towards the citizen enterprising and this is where BIUST plays an integral role, not only in terms of provision of much needed manpower but also as a provider and stimulant of innovative solutions needed for today’s smart manufacturing,” said Jacob.
In addition to this, the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo noted that BIUST has embraced innovative entrepreneurship as part of its core mandate. “Innovation is our focus in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, to not only encourage more innovations in the University, but to encourage innovations that bring sustainable development,” he added.
The University has not only embraced innovative entrepreneurship but has enshrined it as its vision which states, ‘to produce world class research and innovation in science, engineering and technology contributing to industry growth and development and advancement of a diversified knowledge-based economy.
The Tourism Business Coaching & Mentorship Programme: Inspiring A More Resilient and Dexterous Tourism Entrepreneurs
It is said that challenging times bring to life the resilience of the human spirit and some of the most important innovations. The advent of COVID-19 brought tremendous challenges to the global economy, and the tourism sector was not spared.
It is during this period, that the Tourism Business Coaching & Mentorship Programme was born. Ms. Tshepiso Mganga upon realising the need for tourism operators to get back on track after the slump leveraged her network to assemble a team of professionals across the various disciplines that are critical for the operation of a tourism enterprise. The programme has to date mentored and coached over 70 tourism and hospitality enterprises in Botswana. The programme imparts practical skills to aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to venture into the tourism and hospitality industry, as well as tourism businesses that are already in operation including but not limited to hotels, lodges, guest houses, mobile safari operators, travel agents, tour operators, and travel photographers. In addition, the benefits to start-ups include the enhancement of awareness on issues such as product development and branding, while existing businesses can use insights to reposition their brands and offerings in the market. The programme covers topics such as understanding the tourism value chain, what is takes to operate lodge in remote area, importance of belonging to an association, moving from idea to action, defining target markets, business planning, financial planning, developing digital marketing strategy, branding tourism business, business insurance, customer service excellence, design & guest experiences, travel show readiness.
The bi-weekly sessions are delivered virtually by several experts and professionals within the tourism industry, with the hope that there will be more in-person sessions in the future. The 3-month programme concluded with educational tours to Chobe Game Lodge. The tour brought practical elements to the programme learning, specifically on running a sustainable facility in a remote area. The tour demonstrated the value of environmental sustainability, with the participants being sensitised on level of investment that goes into developing and running an ecotourism product, including encapsulating aspects of reduce, re-use, and recycle in relation to all inputs of running the business. The participants also got to appreciate the return on investment of ecotourism in terms of reduction of costs of operations, enhanced profitability, as well as conservation of the ecosystem. The tour was sponsored by Desert & Delta Safaris, who have been a valuable partner of the programme.
The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) is another valuable partner, and this year (2022), sponsored thirteen (13) participants to be part of the programme.
The programme is sponsored by City & Safari International, a Destination Management Company (DMC) established in 2017. City & Safari International specialises in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions, as well as luxury safari planning & bookings covering Botswana and extending to Cape Town, Livingstone, Victoria, and Namibia.
The next cohort is scheduled for 13 May to 30 July 2023. Further information will be shared on Tourism Business Coaching & Mentorship Programme Facebook and Instagram pages.
Tourism Business Coaching & Mentorship Programme