Local entrepreneur Ruth Gabasiane does not beat about the bush on the source of her success in business. Her educationist husband Odirile is her secret weapon. Writes KEITEBE KGOSIKEBATHO
Besides being the Board chairperson of Ba Isago University, she is the successful owner of E & E World of Interiors, and Elegant & Exclusive Boutique Guest House, an award winning hospitality establishment which recently scooped an award at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in Doha as the Country winner.
“It would be amiss of me if I do not state that the secret to this winning strategy revolves around the unwavering support which my husband gives me and so do I in his business. I have always taken keen interest in what he does and so has he. This is a partnership which transcends family horizon,” she declares.
But just like her husband, Gabasiane started off as a teacher. They met while still studying at the University of Botswana and while it might have seemed like any other college romance; they defied the odds and stuck to each other even after completing their studies. They would later get married and move in together at Moeng College where they both taught.
She also did a Post Graduate Diploma in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other languages) and Master in English Language Teaching at Thames Valley University. Masters in Linguistics at SOAS, University of London. She pursued the latter three qualifications in London where they lived 7 ½ years between 1990 and 1997 at the time when her husband was working as an Education Attaché in London.
In 1996, when her husband was offered to choose between transferring to Washington D.C or Pretoria South Africa, they decided to opt for the latter.
“The thought of going to Washington was tempting but we decided to come back because we were now homesick and wanted to move closer to home,” she says.
Never the one to stay idle, when her husband started work as an education attaché she too started looking for work and finally got lucky after six months. As the only black person in her department in the newly post-apartheid South Africa, it was not easy for Gabasiane.
“This was a very exciting and challenging time in my career given that I was the only black person in the English Department. This was the time when racial sensitivities were still pronounced as South Africa had just transformed into a majority-led Democracy following the new political dispensation in 1994,” she recalls.
But she preserved and stayed on until they decided to come back home to set up Baisago Institute (1999-2002) which later transformed in BaIsago University College (2002-2015) which now runs as Ba Isago University.
Ordinarily one would have thought she would have jumped at the thought of working with her husband again in the education sector, but she had other plans. After a brief stint in the education sector she reawakened her love for interior designs and decided to venture in the world of business.
“For quite some time while working as a teacher I always had a strong urge to leave the teaching profession and follow my passion in the World of Interiors, hence my decision to start a business enterprise known as E and E world of Interiors,” she says.
Building own business empire
She got funding for it from CEDA in 2003. The early years, according to Gabasiane, were very challenging but nonetheless, she survived the weather and stood the test of time. “Go ne go le maswe. Motsetse aa ja ka letsogo,” she enthuses.
Inspite of the early teething problems, which lasted for almost four years, E and E Interiors has now become a solid and successful enterprise. They are based in Gaborone’s Block 3 Industrial. Right from the outset, according to Gabasiane, the business philosophy and vision has been premised on providing outstanding products and services to its clientele. Their products include furniture for both domestic and corporate, window treatments-blinds, curtains and accessories, kitchenware, ornaments, and various gift items.
The realities of doing business in a small economy as in Botswana compelled her to diversify. She then set up E and E Boutique Guesthouse in 2014 which she interestingly says was nothing else but a fulfillment of an ambition and dream she had held for so long.
Her 5-star guesthouse
“I must also confess this one was to some extent influenced by my International travel. Whatever country we visited, we always wondered why in Botswana we don’t have hospitality facilities of a like class and distinction. This became my driving force and inspiration – to provide Botswana with hospitality facilities which correspond with its emerging middle income status,” she says.
In recognition of such outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry in Botswana, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), awarded E and E Boutique Guest house five star grading about a year ago on their first grading visit.
E and E Boutique Guesthouse was recently nominated Country winner – Best Boutique Guesthouse in Botswana – at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in Doha, Qatar last month in a ceremony which bestowed awards to about 200 delegates from all over the world running similar facilities of distinction and class.
“The urge for striving for excellence and highest standards ever is also largely underpinned by the desire to demystify the mindset that Guesthouses are generally of poor standards,” she explains.
To motivate other women, Gabasiane urges them “to stay focused, determined and have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. They should believe in themselves and what they have set out to do. They should expect to be knocked down from time to time but need to stand up again, dust off and continue their journey. There are no quick fixes to building a formidable business. Quick fixes will only but temporarily sustain the business. Tsela kgopo ga e latse nageng,” she says.