With over a decade of perfecting his craft and diversifying his business portfolio, Newman Tshepho Ramatokwane considers himself as a resilient leader and hardworking creative whose diverse entrepreneurial portfolio reflects the different facets of his character including his tenacity and ability to spot opportunities in the maze of life.
“I am the sole founder of Paulman Holdings (Transport and Logistics), Native Events (Events Management), Fairscape (Property Development & Management), and Nubar (Mobile &Online Bar Service), as well as a Co-founder of Papervalley (Accounting & Business Advisory Firm) and 52. Sundays (Digital and Experiential Marketing Agency)’’ the enterprising young man revealed in an interview with The Business Weekly & Review about his upward- bound business career.
Ramatokwane says his entrepreneurship spirit unleashed when at the tender age of 16 years when he came across financial literacy books; Rich Kid, Smart Kid & Rich Dad, Poor Dad by popular author Robert Kiyasaki which he says really opened his eyes.
“My main motivation was growing in a family of 2 parents who were both hard working enterprising individuals in their own capacity.’’ Thus, from starting his journey in 2010 with only Paulman Holdings which is in the Transport and Logistics industry to now having multiple sources of wealth under his belt, Ramatokwane says the existence of his first business led to the birth of each and every one of these companies and his diversity into other industries as an entrepreneur.
“Very early into my business journey, I was able to learn the importance of financial separation between my business and myself. I knew that in order to build a sustainable business model, I had to work towards creating multiple streams of income, thus the continuous birth of value chain based businesses,’’ he commented on his ability to start his various businesses from the ground.
On the state of entrepreneurship in Botswana which he defines as still being in its infancy, Ramatokwane says the reluctance of the country’s market to adapt quick to change is a deterrence which always manifests itself as a pullback in business. “You can try to be as innovative as you can but the reluctance of the market to adapt quicker to change is always a pull back. Its either you are too early or too late. However, there is room for improvement as Botswana is still a developing nation. There is a need to educate and inform individuals on entrepreneurship and its requirements.’’
While the government of Botswana has invested in and developed programs and policies that seek to support early- stage entrepreneurs especially the youth, Ramatokwane feels it is not enough since there are a lot of barriers and red tapes that still hinder the greater growth of businesses, from legislation, policies, infrastructure and inefficient service. He advices young entrepreneurs particularly those starting small that the idea of perfectionism is overrated.
“No idea is perfect until tested and proven and not every business idea will be profitable. Rome was not built in a day so you definitely have to start small, be patient, have a strong will and work hard without counting the days because at the end, it will always pay off.’’ Ramatokwane’s entrepreneurial journey like any other has not been without hurdles and challenges with his hunger for diversity being the very thing that sometimes works against him.
“Being rejected in business for purely being professional and well diversified. They call it being greedy when you see opportunities where others don’t. This has created an invisible ceiling of progress and business growth for young people in Botswana,’’ he lamented. Being a young person in business has also been a challenge with age bias coming into play almost every day.
“We naturally have a culture as Batswana that has never embraced and believed that one can become an entrepreneur at a young age and actually do well at it. This is mainly influenced by the fact that as a country, entrepreneurship was never taught or embedded in us from an early stage, so I have learnt to grow a crocodile skin and just focus on my own lane until successful which once again depicts my resilience.’’
It has not all been doom and gloom though, over the last 10 years Ramatokwane’s businesses have grown to now employing over 25 employees on a full –time basis and 10 to 15 part time employees and just over a year ago he was part of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list where he represented Botswana with 2 other young entrepreneurs.
“I woke up one morning and decided to submit my portfolio to Forbes Africa. My fellow countrymen that know my work, rallied behind my submission until I made it into the 2020 List. As sad as it is, locally the achievement has not benefited me so much as most of our people do not know what Forbes is and what it stands for. However, I get more attention when I step outside Botswana and network at a regional and global level. The future still holds a lot for me and my entprenuarial endeavors; global we go, I am no longer looking at myself just as a simple Motswana but rather, a globally competitive aspiring young entrepreneur who can now create and build solutions for Africa and the rest of the world,’’ he said.