It was an emotional Friday morning when Ba Isago University Managing Director Odirile Gabasiane disclosed the reasons behind the 50% sale of what has always been a family business since 1999. Gabasiane said they took the decision to ensure growth of the university to make it one of the best private universities in the country and beyond. South Africa’s listed educationists Curro Holdings have been offered to buy 50% stake. The school started 1999 as Ba Isago Institute. Gabasiane and his wife Ruth Gabasiane – the Board Chairperson – decided to establish the institution after working in the public service, and realising a gap to fill in the passionate area of providing education. In 2005 a campus was established at BBS mall where they had about 300 students. The university college gradually developed and got a major boost when started admitting government-sponsored students. Eventually in 2015 they were awarded a university status.
The Vice President, Business and Corporate Relations Sanga Namoshe said the journey they have embarked on started on January 27th this year in a meeting that they held in Pretoria. “It was a meeting where all the board members who are also shareholders met with the then potential investors at the time,” he said.
Namoshe conceded that this was not a very easy decision to make. At some point they felt they were even too far from each other in terms of where their expectations are. “The atmosphere was very intense and it was razor sharp, where at some point we felt that the deal will collapse,” he recalled. According to Namoshe, they ended up agreeing because the two entities are about education and they made sure that education wins. He said that their mission is to be bigger and increase their market share of tertiary institution from the 5% that they stand at to 15% and even more. Gabasiane said even though it was not easy to transition, they knew that they had to do it. He paid a special tribute to his wife, hailing her brilliance in making the project succeed.
“Given the trials and tribulations that we went through together there would have been a divorce if we were not the kind of people that we are, educationists and business people that we all are,” he said. He said that it was easy for them because they benchmarked with people that run family businesses and realised that it is possible. He thanked FNBB for always believing in them and their expansion drive. “Ba Isago University had to come to the state where running it as a family business is impossible because in the last three to four years we have been looking for P500 million and it never happened. It was a difficult choice with good benefits and difficult challenges,” he said.
He said they are working on a six storey building that they expect to complete soon where they will have 5600 students, 3600 more than the current. “Reality is if you do not have money you will always look like a fool, even if you are a government or any institution,” he said. He said that it is not like they are not innovative, but rather because they lack funds. He said that the PSG Curro partnership will see them expanding, having infrastructure and also opening in Zambia where they are already registered. He said they agreed with Curro to keep the name Ba Isago. Board Chairperson Ruth Gabasiane said that they are ready for 2017 and they will get on everything head on.