Making money from man’s best friend
When Collen Mhiko graduated from ABM University in 2019, unlike the majority of his former classmates, he never went job hunting.
Instead, the Entrepreneurship graduate went straight into dog breeding, a business which today gives him a comfortable income.
“I only breed American bulldog, that is my specialty,” explains the 26-year-old Serowe native, who has made a name for himself in Maun as a bulldog breeder.
Operating out of the tourist town’s Boseja ward, Mhiko sells puppies countrywide, even exporting to neighbouring nations, with his pups proving particularly popular in Zambia.
“I will say it is a good business. A puppy sells for P3, 000 and I get orders from as far as Gaborone, Francistown, Selebi-Phikwe and from outside the country,” he tells Voice Money.
The enterprise initially barked into life when, while still at ABM, Mhiko bought two bulldog puppies with his book allowance.
“The rest, as they say, is history. I was planning ahead, so I planted that allowance as seed money for my business and I raised the dogs with whatever little money I had.”
As he initially only had females, Mhiko had to part with extra money to pay for the dog’s mating.
“It does not come cheap and that is why I provide that same service to other dog owners at a fee as well.”
He further notes bulldogs are the perfect breed to sell as they are very clever, have an exceptionally friendly nature and, because they are so alert, can be reared as either a pet or guard-dog.
“They are good dogs, easy to control as they can be trained to be what the owner wants them to be. They have a good temper and are usually calm and well-balanced but if the owner teaches them to be aggressive, then they will be.”
Mhiko also points out that despite their slightly sinister reputation, they are in fact very obedient dogs and extremely loyal to their families.
Due to their formidable appearance and amazing strength, bulldogs have gained a reputation as being unpredictable animals, which, if angry or hungry, can turn on their owners.
However, Mhika maintains that in all the years he has owned them, he has never experienced an aggressive episode before.
“Currently I have six parent dogs which have produced many puppies but never have I suffered a bite from them. Yes, people fear them because of the myths, but they should know that these are good dogs.”
And Mhika should know, having never been without a dog in his life.
His close relationship with ‘Man’s best friend’ is one he inherited from his late father, who sadly passed away in 2017.
“My dad, Selebogo Mhiko, may his soul rest in peace, was a dog breeder and this inspired me to develop that into a sustainable business,” he says.
The young entrepreneur encourages his fellow youth to start ‘thinking outside the box’ and come up with new business ideas that can work for them during and post the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused many people to lose their jobs.
“It is possible to build a business out of one’s passion and that is exactly what I am doing,” he concludes with a big grin.