Agnes Brook of Dudubrook Quilting Loft became the overall winner of the Women in Business Awards (WIBA), outclassing 35 other entrepreneurs for the crown.
She walked away with P50 000 cash prize from Stanbic Bank Botswana, P10 000 worth of Botswana diamonds jewellery from Debswana and P5000 cash prize from Mosele Legal Guard who topped off her prizes after seeing how humble and excited Brook was about winning the awards. The awards were held at Travelodge on Friday night. Brook makes and sells quilts which are defined as a type of a blanket traditionally composing of three layers of fibre with a woven top cloth, a layer of batting or wadding and a woven back using the skill of quilting. A well-travelled person, Brook has been making quilts for 25 years now. This year she capped her career with her first ever exhibition that attracted different stakeholders from both the local and international community. Having researched in every country that she went to, she finally relocated to Botswana in 2007 and it dawned on her that there was no quilting business in Botswana. She jumped into the opportunity; buying sewing machines from the Middle East, and Asia. “I am a dreamer, I believe in myself, and I pushed myself to be where I am today,” she said. On what inspires her craft and the artwork that she chooses to do on the quilt, Brook said she is inspired by a lot of things surrounding her.
Brook’s quilts are 100% cotton and are used for different things be it beddings, serviettes, wall hangings and many other special occasions and she usually gives them Setswana names in reference to the designs among them Phatana, Mmabodutu and Montshiwa. She is not only doing this for herself; she is inspiring others to take up quilting and make a living out of them. She is teaching women of Old Naledi to do quilts. She started her community projects by teaching women at Anglican Church and the students living with disabilities at Kgale Hill School. She dedicated all the awards to them – the Social Entrepreneur of the Year and Business Woman of the Year. “All that I am getting is going back to the community, the women at Old Naledi and the students at Kgale Hill,” she said. Brook recalled when she started her business people thought she was crazy and many did not even believe in her. She has defied all; proving that one can triumph over anything they put their mind into doing.
She said that she hopes the quilts become an important fabric in Botswana as it is in other countries. Brook is the first person to use the national heritage cloth for quilting when it was revealed which has heads of the late founding president Seretse Khama so as to honour the transformation that he brought to the impoverished and uncertain state that Botswana was at independence. The emotional Brook said she is inspired to continue working hard and making a change in her communities. She encouraged women to use their own hands. “When people come to my shop, they always ask whether it is owned by a white person, and I always say yes I am white if you want me to be but I am black,” she laughed. Other winners: Finkie Tshabadira of Speed Services in Innovator of the Year Category through her Kids Educational Game; Sethebe Manake of Vantage Properties in Male Dominated of the Year; Gopolang Dodo and Odirile Ramontsho of Goldwave Travel in Female Collaboration of the Year; Boitumelo Gosekwang of Gosekwang Textiles in Informal Business Woman of the Year and Malebogo Marumoagae of Bella Rissa in Young Female of the Year.