Emergency assist 991 is 18 years stronger
Tumelo Pabalinga and Simon Modisaemang say they have their patience as a personal attribute and consistency of service to their clients to thank for being more firmly established 18 years after they started as junior partners in Netcare 991. More confident as directors of EA 991 now, they have been telling TSHEPISO GABOTLHOMOLWE that they continue to be relied upon in emergencies.
Emergency Assist (EA) 991, formerly known as Netcare 991, is a 100 percent citizen owned assistance company that started its operations in April 2003 as a joint venture between two Batswana investors and a South African entity.
The Batswana investors, Tumelo Pabalinga and Simon Modisaemang, partnered with Netcare 991 South Africa that was then the majority shareholders in the company.
According to Pabalinga, they acquired the shareholding of Netcare 991 South Africa and rebranded the company to make it the first 100 percent citizen owned assistance company in Botswana in 2008.
Their core products include emergency medical assistance services, roadside assistance services, call centre assistance service, on-site clinic management, First Aid training and driver training.
The shareholders say one of their biggest challenges was gaining acceptance in the market as an alternative emergency medical service provider. This is because when they were coming into an industry that had had one player as a monopoly for 10 years. “Change can be a very difficult process. But with time, the market got to understand and appreciate our services,” says Modisaemang.
Inspite of today’s COVID-19 challenges, Pabalinga says the company is afloat because it is propelled by the good service that it consistently provides. “We are working on introducing new innovative products and services to complement what we already have,” Modisaemang continues.
EA 991 has a staff complement of 110, of which 107 are Batswana. The Board comprises Tumelo Pabalinga and Simon Modisaemang as executive directors. Management is headed by Adiel Jacobs as General Manager and six divisional managers. EA 991 has eight branches located in Botswana’s key centres, namely Palapye, Francistown, Kasane, Maun, Lethakane, Ghanzi and Jwaneng that are directed from the head office in Gaborone.
Having been in business together for over 18 years, the directors speak of similar personal experiences throughout the time. As business promoters in a small market like Botswana, the directors say they have learnt to view progress with patience and have come to understand that a start-up business must undergo cycles.
Pabalinga says they have remained relevant because of consistency in their service level which they believe is what ultimately carries and sustains a business in the long run. “Let your service output be predictable so that when clients come to you, they know what to expect,” he says. “In a positive way, of course.”
To ensure that they are confident of their end service to clients, the directors have invested heavily in infrastructural capabilities and in return demand a high standard of performance and accountability from their employees. The company operates a fleet of 28 assistance vehicles that include ambulances, roadside assistance vehicles and tow trucks.
“These are controlled from our 24-hour state-of-the-art call centre at our head office in Gaborone,” Pabalinga explains.
To celebrate its 18 years of existence, EA had weekly competitions in which over 18 people won cash prizes while others have platinum memberships.