Tshepo Nthoiwa, Founder of payment platform Spachee and Managing Director of Corplite, has an acute understanding of why data driven industries are the future of economies globally. Born in 1982, he is a stern believer in abundance, a serial entrepreneur at heart, and his passion for innovating is refreshingly contagious. We caught up with him to hear more about his businesses and quick success.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing and how your interest in IT came about?
I was quite a late bloomer. My interest wasn’t always there. It was in secondary school that I had no choice but to start reading the books the teachers placed in front of me. I got to see my potential for the first time and my passion for technology sprung from there. I started participating in a lot of design and technology fairs and after creating my first simulation project, the passion has never left me.
Your educational background is set in accounting yet you chose a different field. Why is that?
Surprisingly, even with knowing that my heart was in IT, I studied accounting at Botswana Accountancy College. In 2005, I went to London with a plan to pursue study masters in finance and accounting. I abandoned that route to study entrepreneurship, very much to the disapproval of my parents. Entrepreneurship struck me as deeply intriguing. I had planned everything in terms of my accounting career, yet I was also compelled to follow my instinct. It was challenging to drop my ‘ MBA dream’ but I made sure I studied whatever I could land my hands on about entrepreneurship.
When starting your business in 2009, which niche had you identified in the market?
I initially wanted to sell premium cars in Botswana such as the Hummer and Cadillac. That idea didn’t fall through so we started brainstorming various ventures. This is when I founded Corplite. One day we came across a product in a newspaper about a piece of hardware that sells electricity. We couldn’t believe there was such a thing. We spent our last money chasing for information and contacts about this product which led to the founding of Kazang Botswana and supplying these vending portals in Botswana in 2012.
What has been your biggest achievement?
In just 2 years, we had a turnover of about P75 million through Kazang Botswana. We met our supply targets in just one month. It was a very proud moment to have realized what we have achieved.
What are some of your daily routines that make you focused?
I visualize a lot about an hour every day. Some of the cars I visualized driving four years ago I’m now driving. I love working on my ideas and at the end of it all it pays off.
So far, how have you been navigating this industry?
Through the belief in oneself and working to achieve my goals. I’m constantly seeking new ways to build my business portfolio with ideas that are beneficial and that aid mobility. At the moment we are in the final stages of establishing Botswana’s first ‘contactless’ payment platform—Spachee, which is incubated by Botswana Innovation Hub. With Spachee we believe that access to formal payments ecosystems that do not require internet connectivity is key to assisting poor people to become financial stable, prosperous and resilient.
What would you say is the state of the technological industry in Botswana?
We need increased mobility in our financial services. There’s a lot of untapped potential that we must explore to enhance our current systems. The internet age has lapsed and we are now moving into the data age. Data technology is the future. This is where the world is heading. We need to see holographic advertising and models such as ‘uber’ services being implemented.
You recently procured sound equipment worth P4million. What are your plans for such a move?
Our equipment is spec’d to the biggest international shows and events. There will never be an excuse for promoters and sponsors not to bring big international artists to Botswana. We recently pledged to support local artist Kast with his Tlatsa Lebala initiative. As a person who is also passionate about music, I love a dreamer and a person who is persistent and who never gives up when the whole world is against him.
How does your family keep you grounded?
They keep me focused. You have to have the right people around you, people who fuel your aspirations and inspires you. I also have two daughters whom I love very much.
Which book do you recommend, looking at today’s challenges?
Without doubt, I recommend Think and Grow Rich. It should be taught in schools as part of the curriculum. From early childhood, people must be taught to understand the power of their mind and their ideas.
What advice do you have for people who want to venture in this field of work?
Success does not take any prisoners.