The Enterprising Welder Me and My Business
Absorbed and happy in his work as a car mechanic, an unlikely request from a client three years ago changed the course of 35-year-old Bokamoso Selthabi’s life forever.
The self-taught welder now designs and makes various products from metal, including troughs, trailers, cages, kraal fences and other farm implements.
Having initially set-up shop in the North West of South Africa, his home of three years, the Morwa native retraced his steps back to Botswana to continue Bucha Rest Welding.
Recalling the meeting that altered his existence, Setlhabi told Voice Money he was working as a mechanic when a customer asked him to build a trailer for him.
“I made the product for him. After that he brought two more guys wanting my services. From there it grew into a fully-fledged business,” he explained.
“The business has now been running for two years based in South Africa. It is only at the beginning of this year that we relocated to Botswana,” continued the multi-talented craftsman, adding he briefly explored the Namibian market as well.
While he is still new to the local market, with much of that time blanketed by Covid-19 restrictions, Selthabi admits he is yet to reach a point where he can say business is as good as it was in South Africa.
“So far it has been a bit difficult locally. Some of the products that we do like metal kraals are still not highly rated here but we are working hard to market such products as a good alternative to wooden kraals,” he noted, a steely determination evident in his tone.
Setlhabi explained that one of the perceived disadvantages of products like metal kraals is because the metal conducts heat.
However, he points out that this can be overcome by simply applying paint.
“The good thing about it is that it is durable and lasts longer than other materials used to construct kraals,” he highlighted.
Despite the current low uptake of his products, the enterprising welder is optimistic his fortunes will soon turn around.
“It is promising because, when you work with customers who are not used to what you are doing, you have to carry out extensive marketing of your products. We hope when life goes back to normal after the pandemic there will be some improvement,” he said, adding that items such as feeding containers have proved popular and are in demand.
“We also have customers waiting across the country,” he added.
Other challenges – and the one Setlhabi describes as his biggest – is copycats who attempt to duplicate his work ‘but often fail to match my skills’.
“We have social media pages where we post our products. People would want to do exactly the same but often do not succeed because our designs are unique and the quality is top-notch,” said the National Craft Certificate (NCC) holder proudly.
As the business is still at infancy stage, he has engaged one person to assist but hopes as the enterprise grows he will be able to employ more.