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Botswana Made (BWMade) is an online application store that retails 100% Botswana made products of the creative industry

Aware of a large gap in the online marketing and selling of locally made products, tech entrepreneur and pioneer Itumeleng Garebatshabe decided to create and launch BWMade as a platform for creative entrepreneurs in Botswana to spread their market reach.

Covering music, film, fashion, crafts and now books, Garebatshabe says BWMade is about providing a solution to the revenue challenges of Batswana creatives by giving them a platform to reach both local and international consumers alongside taking Botswana as a country to the world.

“There was a poor footprint of revenue generation for Batswana and Botswana-based creatives and so we decided to start off by launching the BWMade bookstore to promote local authors,” he explains. “We have three key goals with this application, namely, to help creatives make money, to keep them creating assured of reaching consumers and reaching a global audience.

“The E-Book store was also in response to demand for a central selling place for Botswana books at the click of a download. Local authors have been struggling to push book sales outside of the school market and this was made harder by Covid-19 restrictions that are preventing authors from marketing and selling their books at malls and other public places.”

According to the founder of the BWMade Book store, the application also provides an opportunity for content aggregation, enabling the company to compile data to determine number of sales and a best sellers list with accurate statistical backing. “This will make looking for Botswana titles online easier,” Garebatshabe asserts. “Consumers will thus avoid the massive content searches on platforms such as Amazon Kindle since BWMade bookstore provides a local content niche that also encourages Batswana authors to keep creating and writing more, growing the ecosystem of writers and readers beyond the local book club.”

The initiative was first launched in 2015 but the landscape then was not ready for an online bookstore. To overcome this, an educational campaign had to be mounted before buy-in of the application could take place. “We spent the bulk of our budget educating creatives about online retailing, communicating with them through TV, radio, print and social media,” says Garebatshabe.

Today it may be said the Covid-19 pandemic is a blessing in disguise for the founders of the store as it made people appreciate the benefits of online retailing better. With a more simplified and seamless transaction gateway, including payments through mobile wallet visa services, the BW Made Book store has made it easy for anyone to support local content and consume Botswana book titles.

According to Garebatshabe, international reviews have been promising and have created a bigger demand for Botswana local content. This has prompted a need to re-launch the BWMade music to promote local music on the global market. “By the end of October, we will launch the music streaming application and expand into Africa thereafter,” he says.

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