The Lady & her bike

SHARE   |   Monday, 27 March 2017   |   By B. Double
The Lady & her bike

Setshwano Sharey Ngope is an entrepreneur and financial advisor. Setshwano definitely does not fit the stereotype of a “biker chic”. On the contrary, Setshwano comes across as an elegant and articulate lady. Setshwano became attracted to biking while she was a student in Australia. Just before the financial crisis hit the world, the Australian government was advising the country to lead a more economic way of life. They were worried about emissions and the cost of fuel. The population was encouraged to consider alternative modes of transport. “I was just curious, to be honest,” she says. “There were a lot of bikers in Australia and the road infrastructure was good. The government was supportive of bikers. There was even a road safety campaign encouraging drivers to co-exist with bikers on the road”. As a student without much money, biking became her choice of transport. She went to a riding school and within a day had her license. This was in 2007.  In Australia, one goes for riding lessons for one day and, if deemed competent, receives a license after that day. The belief there is that everything after the basics is learned on the road. One must first obtain a license for an engine capacity of 250 cc and below, and then after three years, one can obtain a license for above 250 cc.

A week later, Setshwano bought her first bike, which was a Kawasaki ZZR250. She chose the ZZR250 because it was the motorcycle used by Uma Thurman’s character in the movie Kill Bill. “She was the first female that I ever saw riding a bike and really killing it!” she quips. Setshwano used the ZZR250 to commute to university and work. Her current bike is a Suzuki Boulevard M109. It is an 1800 cc. “It was a huge leap from a 250 cc to an 1800 cc,” she says.  Initially, she struggled to ride the bike because of its huge size and weight compared to the ZZR250. “I haven’t looked back since then,” she reminisces. She now feels very comfortable on the Suzuki Boulevard. She describes the Boulevard as a “hybrid” between a sport-bike and a cruiser. “They classify it as a “super cruiser”. The thing moves!” she proudly exclaims, with great emphasis on the word “moves”. “It has the ability of a superbike while having the weight and feel of a cruiser,” she elaborates. “It does not have the heavy weight of your typical Harley Davidson of its size”. As for her next bike, Setshwano confidently states, “I know I want a Harley!” She still needs to decide which Harley Davidson she wants. She describes herself as a “cruiser girl” but feels that she would also like to have a Yamaha R6 on the side– “maybe that would be the bike that I would take to track!” Setshwano used to ride to work every Friday. There was a time when she did a lot of breakfast runs and biking events, but she does not ride as much lately due to the passing on of her biker friend, who died in a biking accident last year. “I think that I will get back into it at some point, hopefully soon,” she says.

Setshwano has some interesting parting words. “I have a wish that there could be some sort of tolerance between motorists, bikers, and cyclists in Botswana. I have the benefit of having lived abroad and I know that we can all co-exist. We can all use the road together. We can all come together for charity events. I wish for there to be the respect that exists in the global biking community for veteran bikers as opposed to new bikers. I wish that there was a forum or place for us to come together to orientate the new bikers because there is so much more that you learn about biking outside of the riding school. Just like how it is in the corporate world you have mentors; in the biking community you have veterans. I also wish for us to collaborate with law enforcement.” Setshwano transitioned into entrepreneurship in March 2016 after an interesting career in financial services. She came back home from Australia in 2007 and joined FNBB Private Clients as a Wealth Manager, a position she held for four years. She then went on to join BIFM as the Head of Retail in their unit trust business. She stayed with BIFM for three years before leaving the corporate world to set up a personal finance consulting practice, MerlotWEALTH, and a financial education foundation – The Botswana Financial Literacy Excellence Centre (BFLEC).