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A finger in many pies

Attorney turned business magnate, Mompoloki Mogobe is this week’s Meet the Boss.

Armed with a Master of Laws in International Trade and Banking, Mogobe is the founder and Managing Director of Mogobe Inc, an urban real estate development investment and management company.

In this interview, he explains what it took to build one of the fastest growing business empires in Botswana, as well as giving his thoughts on the key ingredients needed to establish a successful business.

Tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I am an attorney by training, but I gravitated to entrepreneurship and to property development and property acquisition over the years.

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We have a principal company called Mogobe Incorporated, which is responsible for property acquisition and property management.

Then we have a series of sister companies which are piggybacking on this main company.

We are involved in many aspects of enterprises including sanitation, law, hospital as well as podcasting.

So basically I see myself as a serious entrepreneur who is focused on empowering and developing entrepreneurship in the country as well as empowering others in the process.

Take us through your journey in business?

Well, taking you through my whole journey we will spend the whole day here (laughs).

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But in short I graduated in 1987 as a lawyer and started practicing at Minchin and Kelly and did my Masters two years later at an American university.

After that I came back home and continued at Minchin and Kelly before starting my own law firm, initially in partnership with Itumeleng Segopolo who is now a Judge of a High Court.

In 2013 I started to focus more on entrepreneurship, which is property acquisition and development and as part of my personal journey I also developed other businesses.

We diversified into restaurants and sanitation through Clean Cities and Towns.

Quite the journey indeed! So, how have you found it?

The journey has been a rollercoaster ride with setbacks but also with highs because every setback often turns into a positive.

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There is a blessing out of every adversity, as Napoleon and the Bible to some extent teach us.

So, there have been ups and downs along the way. We have made mistakes but we do our best to pick ourselves up.

And what highlights and low points have you encountered along the way?

It is difficult to pick one! But one of those was when I was facing the threat of expulsion from the legal profession when an application was launched at the High Court for my disbarment under circumstances which I thought were unfair for a mistake I had made which was treated like the worst ever.

But I was spared and as the case dragged for three years, I had to reposition myself as an entrepreneur.

So that is the blessings that came with that lowest moment.

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What key lessons can you share with aspiring entrepreneurs out there?

For me, beyond having a strong religious faith, there are three things that come to mind.

First is they have to be prepared to absorb a huge amount of information, in other words to read a lot and continue learning.

The second thing is it is important to try and put yourself in a new and uncomfortable situation, you can only learn when you throw yourself in the deep end.

The third is to stay healthy because there is a clear connection of having a healthy physical body and having a sharp and entrepreneurial mind.

Mogobe Inc incorporates different companies under various sectors of the economy; how were you able to build such an empire?

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I don’t know if it’s fair to call it an empire, but it is certainly a group of companies that tend to be interrelated in the sense that they are run from the same property that we own.

It is just a matter of one day at a time, take things one step at a time and be consistent.

It is also important to learn from mentors. I learnt a lot from my mentors through activities that they were engaged in, in terms fearlessness, resilience and persistence.

What does the future hold for your company? Any expansion plans in the pipeline?

Only God knows for sure in terms of what the future holds.

But in terms of our current plans, we want to continue on our growth trajectory where we have two prompt strategies made up of developments at the same time acquiring property with the assistance of our lenders.

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We are constantly looking at start-ups to invest in and so far we already invested in three young, upcoming businesses through the vehicle of Angel Network Botswana of which I am a Director.

This vehicle is going to be a very interesting angle from which we are going to diversify our interests and grow the brand, but the idea is to focus on property development which has worked for us over the years.

We have suffered few setbacks in the Restaurant and Hospitality sector as a result of Covid-19 but we pray day and night to overcome this pandemic.

Lastly, on a more personal note, when you are not in the office and running companies, what keeps you busy?

I think generally it’s just being with family and travelling. I love travelling as well as reading.

I really like to take time to read. Actually I make sure I take two hours out of each day to read – these days I am more into audio books which I find an easy way of absorbing information.

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During this time of Covid-19 era, you really avoid too many interactions but in the past I would also spend time with friends and colleagues.

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