The Biltong Man
It is said entrepreneurship is not for the faint heart and only the brave can go the distance, it is a mantra that Isaac Basime is hoping to live by as he plies his trade in the cut throat retail sector. The youth and visibly shy young man is the owner and sole employee of Basime’s Biltong, a small boutique shop that sells spicy dried meat situated at Carbo Centre.
Basime’s Biltong is a start up in the true sense, there is no massive branding to catch your eye from a distance, there is no massive ‘in your face’ blitz marketing and advertising leading you to shop, even coming into the store, it is a simple straight to the point exchange, money for Biltong.
The store is however popular, each day one walks in or past, there is always someone there dolling out their money to enjoy their few strips of the Biltong. Reason behind this? Basime has benefitted from the old rule of business marketing, ‘word of mouth’. As workers around the centre which houses a small Barclays prestige banking hall, a Water Utilities offices and other offices have enjoyed the treat, they have spoken about to their friends, colleagues and strangers about how good and fresh it is.
“This is why I have customers who drive all the way across town to come and buy my biltong and they keep coming back,” Basime said. He started the business out of pocket through savings, “it was an idea I have always had, I had known being a fan (of biltong) myself that the packaged stuff we get in large supermarkets is not satisfactory,” he said that is what drove him to take a risk and quit his day job to pursue his idea.
“It was tough getting started, but I knew what I wanted, though I struggled to find the ideal space for my shop I kept resolute and found this place, it’s not necessarily ideal in terms of foot traffic, but I’ve still managed to make it work.” He is of the view that his business location was a concern but he adopted a wait and see attitude.
Basime’s Biltong sells fresh cut biltong, the entrepreneur says he does everything himself and is careful to maintain the quality of that he has offered over the just under a year of operating. “I buy my meat fresh from butcheries then I carefully season in different flavours and let it dry to perfection, that is when I finally cut it into smaller pieces and take it to the shop.” He said ideally he would be getting his meat straight from abattoirs, something that he hope to achieve one day.
Basime speaks of being able to consistently supply game biltong to his clientele, “I’m working on getting official go ahead, I want to be able to provide a unique offering.” He is however treading in choppy waters, while Basime’s Biltong is just that, a sole product with variation small store, he has to fend off competition from large retailers who sell Biltong in their butchery sections. He and many other Small to Medium Enterprises have had to bear the brunt of being excluded from the retail boom that has captured Gaborone as finding space in the springing up malls has been near impossible. “I’m actively seeking space in these large malls but it’s tough, I have put proposals forward but at times been rejected on the basis that the anchor tenant there sells biltong too.” He also decries the lack of adequate space for his business within the malls, “I need much smaller space than most stores, around 20 square metres and usually malls don’t provide such.”
To the question, how is business, Basime wittingly responds, “I still have my doors open.”