When Innocent Tlhabano set up Archgate Solutions in 2011, the business was primarily centered around landscaping and supplies.
However, a change in direction last year, to focus on tree cutting and large area grass business, proved the change in fortune Tlhabano craved.
Reminiscing on the unusual path that led to this latest venture, the 33-year-old Tonota native explained he received funding from the Youth Development Fund (YDF) for beef production in 2017.
“Due to the fact that beef production takes a while and as a way to diversify streams, we into tree cutting to supplement our income,” highlights Tlhabano, a Mechatronics Engineering graduate from the University of Sheffield in the north of England.
“The type of tree cutting we do is mostly for government and private companies, predominantly for those trees that grow to the level of power cables, as they cause lots of power cuts,” he told Voice Money.
The business currently has six permanent employees but can hire up to 80 workers when contracted for large-scale projects.
Although he describes business in the last year as good, Tlhabano admits it is not quite a bed of roses.
“We are looking to expand and we have recently been working with Turnstar, owners of Game City mall. They have a number of properties around Gaborone and have engaged us to help them trim their trees and keep everything tidy,” revealed the tree-trimming boss.
Tlhabano is proud of the progress his enterprise has made since their first major project at Motswedi Junior Secondary School in Gaborone.
“It gave us a boost and from the proceeds we were able to procure much-needed equipment. Since then we have grown because now we are doing large area grass cutting. We have bought tractors for such jobs and lawnmowers,” he said.
Though based in Gaborone, Archgate Solutions offers its services nation-wide and is part of the team working on the power line from Palapye to Maun.
“We have been engaged as a sub-contractor by another company to provide bush-clearing services because we have the right equipment.”
As for some of the difficulties encountered, Tlhabano decried, “The main challenge we face is that there is no continuity in projects. We do a project then we have to wait a little bit longer for another one to come. We also found out that the government procurement process takes long.”
He noted that even if a government department wants to engage the company, the procurement process can take up to two months.
Despite these frustrations, Tlhabano has big plans for the future –plans that include potentially expanding across borders.
“We are thinking that maybe in the coming few years, we should explore if we can get some business outside the country. We are also looking at entities such as Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) because they have lots of jobs for tree cutting to clear their power lines,” he outlined.
As for the more immediate future, Archgate Solutions intend to further engage property companies to take care of their properties as far as tree trimming is concerned.