Ofentse Matenge Interview

Briefly tell us about yourself

My name is Ofentse Matenge, a 20 year old from Matenge a village in the deep ends of Bokalaka -North East. I grew up in Masunga, north east region of the county where my I completed my form 5 and it was in 2011 when I moved to Gaborone to commence my tertiary education at the then Botho College now known Botho University where am doing my third year in Computer Engineering. I was raised in a single parented family with my mother being at the helm of everything- bless her- and I have 2 siblings. Growing up was not easy with poverty being my closest acquaintance forcing me to sometimes work as a security guard during my school breaks from as early as form 3. I was introduced to business when I was in form 1 through a programme, Junior Achievement Botswana which I feel in love with and since I have never stopped.

I am also an entrepreneur heavyweight in the making. I am on my final stages of licensing for a real estate firm I have been piloting for quite some time, I have also tried out many projects from Poultry business, small scale retailing ‘Tuck-shops’, food retailing and with a hair salon & nail spa opening this coming month in Gaborone West. My lifelong dedication is to change lives through entrepreneurship.

Tell us more about Botho entrepreneurship hub

Well, Botho Entrepreneurship Hub is an entrepreneurship accelerating club that I founded with the aim to nurture entrepreneurship excellence and appreciation within the Botho University community and beyond. I established the club in 2012 and started its operation in 2013. We currently have 70+ registered members and still are reaching out for more. At BEH we believe leaders are not necessarily born but can be made through training. We host seminars, dinners, coaching clinics and many more events with efforts to nurture tomorrow’s leaders and Steve Jobs’.

We currently are working with two amazing conveners/patrons the Amazing Ms Virginia Chepete and the Mozart Mr Moshe Seloko who mentor us and give us direction; evidently they are crucial agents of change. The club has also established strategic alliances with Global Business Labs, a not for profit business accelerator, whom we have a lot in common and we have a very sustainable relationship also with the Faculty of Business at Botho University.

Generally what we aim to do at BEH is to equip men with skills to fish, so that they are tomorrow’s employers and industrial tycoons, because it is a fact that diamonds are running out and running out fast therefore drastic measures need to be taken and the question is who should take those measures better than the youth – “tomorrow’s leaders”?

Are there any other projects that you are working on?

We are currently working on a seminar- “Living outside your comfort zone” which will be in a day’s time at Botho University at 1400HRS 28th August 2013. Our key speakers are amazing people from all walks who will be addressing this topic (am not saying who so you attend). We are currently in discussion with other stakeholders for an entrepreneurship boot camp for all tertiary schools for this December and a lot more that am not at liberty to say at the moment.

How do you manage to find balance between being the founder of an organisation and being a full time student?

Well it’s quite a challenge to jungle around with a many lot things at a single throw but it boils down to time management, discipline and prioritizing. One should answer the why question and the rest falls into place perfectly and you are motivated to keep on going. With many things to do in just 24 hours, from running a club to businesses and school; it means less sleep, less socializing and lots of work. 4 hours is enough for a sleep.

Are there any challenges that you face on a day to day basis? How do you deal with them?

The main challenge that I do face on regular basis and sometimes is common amongst men from all walks is thoughts. When it gets tougher the inevitable negativity gland is triggered and sometimes you want to give up or give in depending on the situation but with that being said I am a work in progress. Zig Ziglar said that just as much as we need bathing every day, we need motivation to nurture the inside, when negativity battles to catch up I watch or listen to motivational videos or audios and right after that I remember again “there is no light before dawn.”

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What do you think about the education system of Botswana? Do you think young people are given the opportunity to express their true potential?

Our education system is not bad for a country that took its independence with a 5km tarred road and with almost no other developments but my sincere believe is that there is still more work from both us as citizens of our nation and our leaders of the government. My believe is that if our country promoted passion in the education system we could be having a different story of marginal productivity rate and high literacy rate hence diversification of the country’s economy.

If I where the President of the Republic of Botswana, better yet the Minister of education  I will have specialization from an early age according to students’ passion just as is the case for our sister country Zimbabwe which is known for high literacy rates.  The same should be adopted for , especially, tertiary schools, if it were all according to me I will have a standard common cut off points into tertiary and admit students into different faculties based on their merits –‘passion’ from which they would have shown from an early age and from their specialization report. This on its own forms a sustainable education system that yields into jobs being created, findings that will change the world being made and etcetera.

This reminds me of a story of a woman- I cannot seem to remember her name – in the United States who teaches students by linking what they like to her curriculum and since her schools’ establishment she has not seen a fail. She consistently asks students questions about what they love; be it the history, the year and inventor of  that certain particular subject, while she does this other students are listening and learning from that. From there she links what the student’s passion are with the curriculum and this way learning is fun. It is factual that human beings are more productive when they do what’s closest to their hearts. This therefore calls for an education reform in Botswana as to give students the opportunity to express their true potential, because that is where the economic diversification away from our ‘perishing’ diamonds and dead beef industry lies to job creation and improvement of standards of lives’ is buried.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

In the next five years I aim to be a very positive influential leader and beyond heavyweight standards in all my entreprenual aspirations. I wish to leave the world a better place than I had found it, like I had mentioned earlier my true intent is to transform humanity through business and I am not stopping at anything until I achieve that. Oh I almost forgot, I would have made a few appearance on Forbes Magazine 🙂

What drives you?

Passion is my ‘green’ fuel. I grew up in the deep ends of poverty and I simple refuse the leave the world a poor man with no contribution towards other people. Truth is I grew up in a community where people had both direct and indirect contribution towards me being the young man I am and the great man I would be.

Apart from all of the above I have siblings that I want to show that they can make something out of their lives and the other kids out there that I want to remind that it is not about where you come from but were you are headed. My dearest mother and grandmother who both have been through thick and thin to raise me up through hard times but never gave up or ceased to believe in me.

What advice can you give other young people in Botswana?

My advice is it’s never too early to start and please, please do not give up or cease to believe. We are all capable of achieving great things we have never imagined before, all we need is to believe and put in the work. In most cases we fail at what we do because we lack the right discipline, or the crowd that surrounds us does not share the same vision or simple we lack perseverance – we need to equip ourselves with the right tools for a better us. Learn every day and dream on!

How can people get in touch with you?

Well I am on Facebook and LinkedIn, feel free to request me and to drop an inbox at any time am awake most of it anyway: its Ofentse Matenge, even an e-mail will do: !



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