Petronella Matumo - Botswana’s leading woman entrepreneur

SHARE   |   Friday, 30 December 2016   |   By Ontametse Sugar
Petronella Matumo - Botswana’s leading woman entrepreneur

ONTAMETSE SUGAR

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She sits at the summit of the most successful local business ladies. Though she makes running business look like a child’s play, Petronella Matumo insists it has not always been easy.

She is the owner of Private Collection trading at the high end Riverwalk Mall where suitors clamour for the latest diamond rings and accessories for their loved ones. 

Other than being known for owning Private Collection, she has other businesses and sits in various other boards, including chairing some such as the leading property developer PrimeTime. At the beginning she wanted to create a diamond company called Ica, drawn from the word Africa, even though she did not have money and even didn’t know anything about jewellery production.

Building her empire

She then decided to outsource from South Africa so that she can get someone to produce and then she sell it. She did not have all that is required expertise to run an effective business but she was sure she had a vision for a diamond jewellery store. “It was difficult and challenging, and at that time I did not even have a bicycle,” she says.

Matumo recalls that raising the start-up capital was a big problem. Coincidentally just when she was still sweating to establish this business, she was approached to sit in the Barclays Botswana board. She equally had no idea of what was expected of her. Despite the uncertainty, she knew she had to create a legacy.

“You have to consider your personal values, why it is important and what is it that you need to do in order to shape this business, what are your moral standards, is it just passion or you just want to make money. These are the questions that I asked myself,” she says.

Mathumo says that after sitting on the board her friend gave her a book on corporate governance and asked her to read it so that she can understand her statutory duties. She says building a profile is important – one has to develop own approach and educate themselves about the industry environment by learning and reading about what makes other business people successful and whether it is about passion or money.

“Don’t be afraid to borrow from what other people are doing, and don’t be afraid to take these views to the boardroom and ask what about us,” she says.

She points to various sources of information be it in magazines, newspapers and so forth which should not be neglected.  Someone should be consistent in reading about strategies and how other people do it in order to learn and educate themselves about business so as to add value in any board they sit in or any of their businesses, she maintains.

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Even though someone might have a vision, she says they should look at their integrity and their legacy where it is not about building blocks of growth but rather about transaction. Mathumo highlights the importance of networking, which is about building people relationships and creating the right impressions.

Importance of networking

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She learnt from one of her readings that authenticity is the hard beat of leadership and draws an example of how the USA President has been consistent in his character. Networking, to her, should be an enabler of investments if used well. She says networking is not just about meeting high profile people, but meeting people that can share information and participate with you and help you in your endeavours. She confirms that she got involved in many businesses because of the networks that she has built. She says it is important for individuals be passionate about their work and businesses to succeed.   

Commenting on getting start-up capital for businesses looking at the models that Botswana offers, Matumo says it is quite very difficult to get a Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) loan than a loan from a commercial bank because of the complexity of getting it. This is why she urges people to understand what getting into business means.  

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“If you do not understand do not rush into it. As business people we should not feed into fears because that is why it is heart-breaking to see great conceptualised ideas go to waste in Botswana because of a business model that does not support those ideas,” she says. Once one falls, she says, they should make sure that they pick themselves up.    

Family balance

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Upcoming youth should know they have to earn a living and not live on hand outs, she says of something that she learnt very well from her grandmother. Above all else, she insists, women should balance their business roles with their women roles. She acknowledges the challenges of women in this situation because some end up losing families in divorces because of the unsupportive spouses. “It is important that someone is clear on whom they are when in business because it takes a long haul and with shifts that require someone to be very hands-on in order to be able to create a brand,” she says, urging those in business to be patient, and not intimidated to learn – that is the way to success.

She was recently the guest of honour at the 2016 Women in Business Awards (WIBA) where she implored upon women to work hard to grow their businesses.



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