Although he is a qualified Civil Engineer, it is in the world of banking that Opelo Motswagae truly made his name
The 40-year-old Ramotswa native has worked for some of the country’s biggest banks, employed in various positions of power.
Despite this success, the ambitious Motswagae wanted more.
Thus, in 2015, he took the brave decision to go it alone, setting up his own company, Ticano Group.
Six-and-a-half years later and Ticano Group has become something of a shiny light in the murky world of financing.
Kindly introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Opelo Motswagae, a man who was born and grew up in Ramotswa.
I’m the Executive Director of Ticano Group.
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Tell us about your professional journey before founding Ticano Group?
I graduated with first class in Civil Engineering and started off as a civil engineering Consultant at Geoflux in partnership with Anglo Technical Division.
I then did Masters in Strategic Management and joined First National Bank as Relationship Manager for Mining and Energy Business, then Trade Finance and Working Capital Manager for Global Corporates at Standard Chartered Bank.
Later I joined Stanbic Bank as a Transaction Banker for Multinational Corporates and Oil & Gas then Power & Infrastructure portfolios until setting up Ticano Group on 1st July 2015.
So what exactly is Ticano and what services do you offer?
Ticano is a regulated supply chain financier with a development mindset.
We offer Purchase Order Finance and Invoice Discounting to SMEs that supply all government departments, parastatals, councils and big corporations.
Our aim is to help the SMEs supply on time, every time, cost effectively and streamlining the loan application and delivery processes.
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In addition, we offer finance, risk management, logistics support and financial literacy.
You’ve enjoyed an incredibly successful career, what do you consider your proudest moment?
My proud moment was to be able to switch from engineering after attaining first class to corporate banking and managing a top tier corporate portfolio.
Another proud moment was starting with a dream to set up Ticano Group and achieving a good brand positioning and value in Botswana and internationally.
We have been to trade structure financing solutions that no other financiers could do, even to the extent of flying out of the country to meet with our clients’ suppliers for quality assurance and due diligence, offering both finance and advisory to the client.
And the lowest?
I have never been really the most liked employee; the lowest was when I applied for the Product Manager Role at one of the banks I worked at and didn’t get the role purely because of corporate politics.
My mission was reshaped to offer the best products that I could structure at the bank and most importantly to set up a company that does not promote people out of favour and politics, just hard work.
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Let people grow!
What would you say is the biggest challenge Ticano faced in delivering its mandate?
There have been a few stumbling blocks over the years.
We could not get decent growth capital in Botswana despite managing a well-run and growth oriented organisation but fortunately we had great breath internationally.
Secondly, we lost very good employees to major organisations because we couldn’t retain them.
I’m happy that these employees are still our well-wishers and friends.
They did not leave because of bad environmental concerns.
How can these challenges be overcome?
To keep building a reputable company that is audited and attract international capital market players.
And as we grow, taking care of the employees and being very honest with them.
Additionally, building strong relationships with our stakeholders.
Briefly touch on the two programmes you launched last week.
We launched two financial inclusion services, Disabled People Business Finance Support Programme, focused on giving access to discounted borrowing rates and logistics support to the disabled people who need Purchase Order and Invoice Discounting.
The other one is Healthcare Supply Finance solution that offers discounts to medical supplies offering rates as low as 6.5 percent for long term contracts.
We want them to deliver the medical supplies on time with patients in mind.
This sector needs speedy deliveries and quality products.
Any other programmes in the pipeline?
Agriculture Supply Chain Finance, from the farm to the processes to the buyers.
We have recently financed a processor of cooking oil supplying various schools.
Another key interest is infrastructure finance.
How has Ticano managed to remain afloat during these tough Covid-19 times?
Our main Covid-19 success story is innovative solutions, not just being another traditional financier.
Caring about our service to our clients and pushing with everything to support their business on time and providing greater user experience.
We had to reduce rates to accommodate clients’ needs and cushion their costs.
Are there any plans to expand Ticano beyond its current footprint?
Ticano currently has offices in Gaborone, Maun, Palapye and [we are] opening in Francistown before June 2022.
We will be having other branches coming in different locations in Botswana and expanding into other African markets.
We are not just financiers; we are supply chain business enablers, so our services are needed across the country and Africa.
We will be having financial literacy products as well to enable our clients to invest their profits wisely.
Who knows, even listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange at some point will be done!
Wow big plans indeed! On a personal note, away from the office, how do you spend your time?
I am a person with a diverse mind – an avid reader with more than 300 books that likes reading, watching documentaries, camping, off road trips, charitable engagements and a big believer in God.
FULL NAMES: Opelo Motswagae
DATE OF BIRTH: 03 September 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: Ramotswa
MARITAL STATUS: Single
MENTORS: I have people I look up to and follow: Sizwe Nxasana, Dr Anna Mokgokong, Phuthuma Nhleko, Adriana Gore and locally Festus Mogae.
DREAM HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Okavango Delta, Maldives and Bali
CAR DRIVING: Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes Benz C200
FAVOURITE FOOD: Lerotse, morogo wa dinawa, tswana chicken
FAVOURITE DRINK: Red Wine (I’ve been on Bavaria non-alcoholic Lager for 40 days now, may be my new drink)
WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY: I am attentive to detail and highly driven so mediocrity irks me. Another thing is people who want to have opinions on everything