The 17th southern national women’s exposition is due to end in Gaborone today. It offered women entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their products, network and learn business management skills from each other. Principal Gender Officer at the ministry Bakane Bakane says they have achieved their objective. He hailed the turn up and the quality of products exhibited by the women, saying it was clear that the exposition was a ‘golden opportunity for them’. Apart from the exposition, the ministry also hosted a Business Forum where the exhibitors received motivation and business management skills from experts and fellow women entrepreneurs. The forum, according to Bakane, had a lot of impact on them. He says they continue to monitor progress on most of the women even after the expo, especially that some of them are funded by the Department of Gender Affairs. This year’s exposition was celebrated under the theme “Botswana Women at 50: Re gatetse Pele” in line with Botswana’s 50 years of independence as it recognises and celebrates women who have worked tirelessly and shown their competence and capabilities in business.
Below we capture some of the women entrepreneurs who exhibited at the Expo:
Matilda Mpai – Divine Morula
A little research through the Internet about which oil to use in her home led Matilda Mpai into an unexpected discovery – the Morula oil. After trying it a number of times, she was amazed at the magic it brought. ‘Divine scents’ was thus born. The company uses Morula oil to make its body and beauty products. The products include lip balms, body scrubs, body lotions and many more. But, according to Mpai, the benefits of the fruit and its abundance locally has so far driven her to spread her wings and establish Divine Morula, a company that processes Morula fruit. Though Morula is a seasonal fruit that is only available from January through April each year, they stockpile the pulp which they use throughout the year. From the pulp they produce their jam that bursts with Morula flavour and freshness. They also produce a refreshing and thirst quenching Morula juice. The juice, she says, is now at Naftec – the National Food Technology Research Centre – for tests. So far the juice is doing well as she supplies it to individuals, companies and in large quantities for events. Her passion to see Morula being ranked among the most sought after indigenous fruits Mpai says has led her to consider developing Morula as a flavour which will be used in cocktails, yoghurts, ice creams, slushes or even paired with wines. Mpai intends to organise a Morula festival, where she plans to raise awareness about the Morula fruit and its benefits. “I want Batswana to know what an amazing fruit we have in Morula,” she declares. Her business, she says, is now at LEA incubators in Pilane.
Keseitsheletse Ditshotlo - Pottery
Ditshotlo took advantage of the Expo to showcase a variety of handmade traditional pots that she sells for a living in her home village of Molepolole. The handmade pots, Ditshotlo explains, are made from letapa, a substance from her locality that is dug from deep down. She also uses a special kind of soil (seolo) also collected free of charge in her locality. According to Ditshotlo, she never received any formal training for her craft but rather it is a skill that was transferred from generation to generation in her family. “I found my mother making pots when I was growing up and that it is when I learnt the skill myself,” she says. The mother of five explains that because she didn’t receive any formal education while growing up, she had to find a way to fend for her family. And as it is now she has managed to raise her children with income earned from the pottery business. So far individuals, government and businesses have shown interest in her products. She is urging other women to consider making a living out of handicrafts, especially if those with God given talents.
Ogomoditse Moseki – Flower arrangement & Nursery
Gone are the days when Batswana didn’t know the significance and meaning of flowers and trees. This is not only working in favour of the environment but has given a boost to Ogomoditse Moseki’s business. Moseki runs a flower and nursery business from her home in Serowe. She says her love for trees and flowers inspired her to start this kind of business. Her business, she says, is doing well especially fresh flowers as there are always some events like weddings, parties and funerals happening every week. Batswana have also generally realised the importance of fresh flowers and are supporting her. Her challenge so far has been water supply at her farm but she has since mitigated that by getting a water reservoir.