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Passion for info tech

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MARS MOBILE CAUSING A STIR ON EARTH

Though there are still challenges for the information technology industry, a former Botho University star student is aware that passion knows no obstacles.

His company Mars Mobile is proof of that.

Recently almost everybody has been singing from the ICT hymnbook with the President HE Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi leading the choir.

However, 35-year-old Steven Retshabile’s passion dates back to way before the sector became ‘trendy’.

The Maun native’s enthusiasm for technology and technological solutions led him to study for a Bachelor of Sciences in Computing, specialising in Software Engineering.

“Technology is taking over and is changing our lives and how we do things. I want to be one of those who shape the direction of things,” he explains assuredly.

After completing his studies in 2016, Retshabile sought to improve access to information, reduce cost of advertising and save the environment by reducing the need for paper.

And thus Mars Mobile was born.

The company develops applications and websites, designs graphics, animations, games, commercials and edits videos.

Mars Mobile has already launched an advertising application available on android 5.0 or later versions.

Retshabile says this app gives Batswana a chance to sell their products outside the country and provides information about available products and services via mobile devices.

Now with over 2, 000 subscribers across the country, the company’s first application was developed in 2018 and launched at the Northern Trade Fair the same year.

It has been exhibited at other shows like the Global Trade Fair last year, with Retshabile describing the response as overwhelming.

Customers who can use the application to put their information in the virtual world include corporate companies, smmes and individuals.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to use information technologies due to the costs associated with access.

Most people access social sites like Facebook and Whatsapp because they are on cheaper data packages.

MARS MOBILE BOSS: Retshabile

“Tech adoption is also slow with some still using old versions of platforms while we are on version 9. This affects progress because in this business we need numbers,” notes Retshabile.

Another challenge Retshabile faces is startup capital, which he is having trouble securing.

Despite these obstacles, Mars Mobile is forging boldly ahead.

They have already approached network providers in a bid to get their app under the cheaper data packages so the app can be accessed by all.

They have also embarked on an outreach programme, which they use to educate the nation through exposes, radio shows and road shows.

It may be tough but Retshabile says they are going global soon.

“In five years we will be global and selling Botswana artifacts and other products to the rest of the world. By then we will have a staff compliment of about 100 highly skilled people. We would also have integrated functionality into our existing apps and hosting in our own data center,” he states.

He further reveals that they have just completed World Tourism Experiences Shared in Harmony (WOTESH), a social media based application designed for sharing tourism experiences and for bookings.

For that, they have instant private chat for consumers and business.

Retshabile’s simple advice for those wishing to go into business, particularly this type, is to keep the passion burning.

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IDM’s Richard Malikongwa and Dr Onalenna Seitio-Kgokgwe receive top awards

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Richard Malikongwa, a seasoned Human Resource and Corporate guru who serves as IDM Regional Director and Chief Executive, was bestowed with the highest award of the Congress of “Chief Executive Officer with Human Resource Orientation”, while Botswana Country Director, Dr Onalenna Seitio-Kgokgwe received the Women Super Achiever Award.

Dr Seitio-Kgokgwe is also a recipient of the 2018/2019 Global CEO Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards.

The two Executives are commended for steering transformation at IDM and taking the Institution to higher levels as evidenced by amongst others; the Institute’s exponential growth and deliberate focus on people, since assuming their roles in 2016.

Chairperson of the Institute of Development Management, Governing Body and Director of Public Service Management Naledi Mosalakatane has commended the duo for the achievement.

Mosalakatane says IDM Board and Staff are proud of their sterling job of steering IDM to greater heights, further delivering excellent results.

According to the Founder of World Sustainability Congress, Dr R. Bhatia, the CEO with HR Orientation is the highest accolade which recognizes a Chief Executive in the global scene who employs the right combination of interventions to drive business performance, who is authentic and people oriented, and aligns his diverse teams to achieve solid business results on sustainable basis.

On the other hand, Women Super Achievers award is a reflection of professional achievement by women of the world who set a big example for transformation and change. The award celebrates the most respected and much sought-after Women Leaders in the industry who contribute immensely to the field of Women Platform, as well as nurturing talent, having trained several young people to grow in their profession.

The World HRD Congress is a global event which attracts thousands of international professionals from over 100 countries around the world.

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Diamond delight

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Diamond delight

OLDM engages with stakeholders

Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM) General Manager, Bakani Motlhabani held an engagement session with stakeholders last Wednesday.

The session, which took place at Orapa’s Itekeng Hall, was meant to update stakeholders on the progress of the three Debswana-owned mines as well as their community initiatives and the impact of their activities.

Motlhabani told the packed hall that OLDM employs mostly Batswana, with locals making up 99 percent of the staff contingent.

However, he admitted that the ratio of females-to-males was low.

“We have few women and we are looking to hire more. As Debswana we are inspired by our purpose, guided by our vision and we act in line with our values,” stressed the GM, revealing that OLDM currently employ 2, 973, with just over 20 percent of the workforce made up of women.

In terms of productivity, Motlhabani revealed that OLDM on average produce 12 million carats every year.

He further stressed that at Debswana they take safety extremely seriously.

“We are working towards zero harm through a number of safety initiatives. We now have alcohol testing which has helped us a lot as we have seen a noticeable reduction in alcohol consumption.”

Turning his attention to on-going projects at OLDM, Motlhabani announced they are in the final stages of building a Slimes Dam.

“This will provide capacity for the life of the mine at Orapa and is progressing well. We expect it to be completed by April,” he said.

As for the future, the GM announced plans for a ‘Cut-3’ project, which is hoped will increase the lifespan of Orapa mine way beyond its current projection of 2030.

“The project is to commence in 2023. When a big project is coming we intend to make big plans. It will create more employment and impart skills to the community. There will also be increased business opportunities,” he promised.

Stakeholders who attended the session included Dikgosi, Boteti Sub District Council, Heads of government departments and parastatals and the business community.

The stakeholders were also taken on a tour of the Adrian Gale Diamond Museum, which tells of the history of Botswana’s diamonds and showcases some of the artifacts discovered on the journey.

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A wealth of potential

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A wealth of potential

LLR CEO expresses confidence in local property market

Real estate giant’s Letlole La Rona (LLR) has expressed confidence in the local property market amid fears it is becoming saturated.

Speaking to Voice Money this week, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa insisted there was still potential for growth in the market, in particular in the retail sub-sector.

Early last year, LLR sold the four hotels it owned to Cresta Marakanelo, which had previously been leasing the properties.

While this impacted on LLR’s portfolio diversity, Mutiswa maintains the business is now ‘back on track’.

Appointed to the role of CEO in May 2018, Mutiswa’s first assignment was to oversee the sale of the hotels.

Having successfully achieved this, his focus is now on growing the company above the usual practice of simply ‘delivering dividends’.

“We have managed to sell the hotels and what has now happened is that we decided to do two things. The first is to double down on the industrial property space, which is a our biggest competitive advantage. We are the largest institutional industrial investor here in Botswana,” stressed the CEO.

Secondly, Mutiswa says LLR will target the retail space, a strategy they have already started with the recent acquisition of Watershed Mall in Mahalapye.

“We are involved in developments including one retail mall here in Gaborone and we will be announcing it shortly. Previously our only retail exposure was the Blue Jacket Street in Francistown where we had a one-third partnership.”

Mutiswa further explained that as the economy develops, the key component of Botswana’s GDP comes from consumers.

“As such, there is still huge potential in the retail space!” he reiterated, downplaying the notion the country has more shopping malls than it needs.

“If you are a property investor and you stay by the sidelines and say Botswana right now is saturated in terms of the retail space, you will miss the boat because 10 years back this was also the belief.”

Additionally, Mutiswa revealed LLR plan to quit the residential space imminently.

“We have one residential unit. It consists of 42 apartments and we find that it is management intensive. That asset is valued at P43 million out of the balance sheet right now of P1 billion, which is around four percent of the total portfolio.”

Although insignificant, in terms of administration Mutiswa says the property takes up around 50 percent of the company’s time.

“It is likely we will be looking to dispose of that particular asset and we do not expect to venture back into the residential market,” stated Mutiswa, adding LLR will remain focused on industrial, retail and office space.

In relation to office space, he says they will concentrate on the new Gaborone Central Business District (CBD) ‘as that is where most businesses are moving to’.

As LLR’s portfolio continues to grow locally, Mutiswa says the organisation is now considering investment opportunities outside the country.

“If you look at the other five listed property companies, it is only LLR which doesn’t have regional exposure.”

He points out the company has made significant inroads and the expectation is to close a regional expansion transaction during the course of this year.

“It has taken a bit longer than we would have liked. In a way that is positive because in any investment, what determines the profit or return on investment is not the quality of the asset or income you get from that asset, it is the price at which you got it!” he noted.

According to Mutiswa, the company is looking at markets such as South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

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