Driver Opts for Tent Making

| May 28, 2015

It still boggles a few minds how an ordinary ambulance driver who barely had time to rest from his demanding and pressure-prone job of speeding along unsafe roads to safe lives could conceive a money spinning business enterprise associated with the booming tourism industry.

When his fellow drivers in the public service, industrial class category then, bemoaned low wages and accused their employer for various reasons, Mr Omphemetse Kgotlaetsile turned lemon into lemonade as his frustrations became an avenue to better livelihood.

But Mr Kgotlaetsile is at ease, talking upon hindsight how he conceived his business plan which resulted in him saving from his meagre salary to ultimately fund the establishment of his canvas and tent manufacturing business venture.The outspoken marketing guru, Mr Kgotlaetsile, cannot stop talking about his envisaged big business.

He plans to source funds from financial institutions in order to expand his tent manufacturing project that will see him relocating from a rented workshop to a fully-fledged company workshop resourced with powerful machines capable of sewing thicker materials.

Not only that, the exuberant yet experienced businessman believes that owning a business plot will even avail him the opportunity to buy a lot of material that will cut on frequent travelling costs between Botswana and South Africa.

Buying in bulk, Mr Kgotlaetsile said, qualified him for a discount which could help save for future. The dream to purchase own plot and have own premises is anchored on the belief that he can beat the competition from established local and multinational canvas and tent businesses that are flourishing here at home.

His demeanor is that of a man brave enough to face competition.

He pays a P4 000 rental which increases annually and his contention is that at his own premises he would pay back a financial institution a fixed instalment resulting from the agreement between the two parties.

“They beat us because they can afford to buy in bulk and supply volumes. This qualifies them for big tenders and consequently sidelining us the upcoming entrepreneurs,” he said of the multinational and well established local companies.

However, the young man is optimistic that his business venture possesses all ingredients of success provided he gets all that he requires along the way. Part of the avenues to ward off competition is to market one’s business by outclassing the competitors, or as others would say, providing that ‘wow’ response.

But due to limited resources, Mr Kgotlaetsile has adopted the traditional marketing strategies that include amongst other things taking his products to various shows like BOCCIM Northern Trade Fair, circulating leaflets and business cards and he is pondering opening a facebook page for the business where he will interact with customers, established and potential.

Throughout his life as an ambulance driver in Palapye, Mr Kgotlaetsile realised that the canvas and tent enterprise could flourish in Serowe not his home village of Palapye where there were about two similar businesses fighting for a few customers.

Despite it being a seasonal business, the managing director believes in his enterprise which he said has experienced immense growth from the time it started its operations in 2007. All praises are heaped on Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) for helping with skills on how to grow a business of the calibre of his.

According to Mr Kgotlaetsile the tents are the major source of income since they sell big to government institutions and parastatals. However, they sell big during rainy and festive season when they are in high demand from travellers and farmers.

Farmers are said to keep tents at their farms in place of permanent structures. Taurnie covers and truck covers too are reportedly doing well since government departments and individuals require them to protect their goods from dust and bad weather.

This is a result of market research he carried out before going full throttle on the business.

Other products are but not limited to travellers bags, toiletry bags which are touted as durable. To continuously and viably sustain his business Mr Kgotlaetsile needs skilled manpower which he found to be a major stumbling block when they decide to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: News

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