Designing his destiny
After completing his tertiary education in 2012, Kealeboga Duece Thobolo was determined not to become another unemployed BW graduate.
The big-dreaming 34-year-old did not bother knocking on doors looking for work; instead he decided to become his own boss.
First though, the Letlhakane lad went back to the books, topping up the knowledge gained from his Honors Degree in Computer Systems Engineering with a number of short courses.
These included lessons in graphic design, branding and business management.
Finally, in 2016, the young go-getter felt equipped to start his own business, founding MARKA Botswana in his home village, the diamond-rich town of Letlhakane. The Ministry of Youth felt the same, helping fund the enterprise through its YDF programe.
Thobolo’s multimedia company specialises in branding, creative design, advertising campaigns and graphics.
“This business has grown from a single founder to a multi-skilled team meeting high-level business needs through coordinated brand building and strategic, design-led work,” revealed the MARKA Botswana boss, who employs three full-time employees and another four freelancers on a part-time basis.
“The branding space has expanded considerably over the years as many people saw the need for comprehensive and result driven marketing campaigns,” the University of Sunderland graduate tells Voice Money.
A proud professional, Thobolo explains they painstakingly adapt each advertising/marketing campaign to perfectly suit the client’s specific needs.
“We evaluate your current marketing efforts, identify the promotion options that reach your target market, and determine the advertising solutions that meet your goals and audience. We design, print, and publish all materials with our in-house production services which provide you with consistency, convenience and cost-effective solutions for your marketing needs,” says Thobo, who counts diamond giants, Lucara and Debswana as two of his biggest clients.
Although the business has enjoyed a relatively successful seven years in existence, Thobolo’s notes this success has not been without its challenges.
“One of the main challenges we face is delayed turnaround times caused by creative burnouts on our designers. This can be a challenge especially when the client is on your neck looking for their work.
“The other challenge would be keeping up with technology. There seems to be a never-ending advancement in terms of graphic design programs/software that can be quite expensive. There are always changing trends that affect print, packaging, websites, digital marketing, and other design-related fields, making it challenging for us to stay on top of them all,” he says.
Encouraging his fellow start-ups to stay true to their vision and stick the course, Thobo adds, “Many young entrepreneurs fail along the way because as more challenges and storms rise against the business, they forget why they started in the first place. They should never lose the zeal, passion and momentum they started the business with.”
Keen to grow the industry locally, Thobo hopes to one day create a platform where BW Graphic Designers can come together, network and learn from each other.
“Maybe establish an association of Creative Designers where we can regulate our art and pricing of our work,” he adds with a sparkle.