Thanks to his work at Yarona and Duma FM, as well as serving as Chairman of Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana, Tefo Phatshwane is a familiar figure in the media industry.
Now, through the rise of his company, Man Made Media, the 40-year-old go-getter is fast making a name for himself in business.
Formed in 2017, Phatshwane’s company specializes in advertising, marketing, branding and buying billboard space for clients.
Boasting an office in Gaborone’s Commerce Park and a staff quota of seven, Man Made Media has made a swift recovery from the dark days of Covid-19, which bought the business to its knees.
“Remember, we deal with outdoor advertising and since they were lockdowns and no movement it meant the business suffered as clients cancelled contracts. We had to start from scratch, cut staff; it became a one-man operation post Covid-19 – at that point, I ran the operation single-handedly,” recalls the Bobonong native.
Determined not to give up on his dream, Phatshwane went back to the drawing board.
“The turnaround strategy was to diversify; do not put all your eggs in one basket. The idea was for me to take less time in operations and focus more on the strategy for the business to grow to be sustainable and survive in my absence,” explains the former Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) Business Analyst.
The diversification included introducing a printing side to proceedings, branding PVC Banners, Gazebos, vehicles and t-shirts, an addition that is proving popular.
A former Sales and Marketing executive at Yarona and Duma, Phatswane is putting his radio connections to good use.
“We have a strategic partnership with Gabz FM for a slot where we pre-record and package nicely and sell space to our clients, which is one way of marketing ourselves at minimum costs. We are not yet on social media yet because it’s risky when it comes to capacity against publicity,” he says.
Other new offerings include website development and helping clients with their online job applications.
Phatswane and his team are working closely with Local Enterprises Authority (LEA) to set-up and improve websites for the authority’s SMME clients.
Man Made Media has also secured a one-year contract with diamond giant’s Debswana for the production of Teemane Magazine.
Although the future is bright with potential, Phatshwane admits it’s not all plain sailing.
“The big challenge we face is late payments; many tend to relax after we do jobs for them. A lot of clients don’t pay in advance which means it takes time to get our payments; this can get you into a cash flow problem and then you are trapped, to the point where you now can’t pay salaries. I won’t say it’s even businesses, it employees at those businesses,” he says.
Trading in a congested space dominated by big, established players, Phatshwane notes the competition is fierce.
However, he has a cunning strategy to ensure success.
“Competition is there and it’s tough since we are competing with companies which have been around for ages. Our strategy is to go where they are not available, more especially in villages; that’s an opportunity for us. In Gaborone you can’t find prime space, it’s all taken. But it’s easy to get space in villages and it’s effective since numbers have doubled according to population census for areas around Greater Gaborone,” says the former MISA boss.
Going forward, Phatshwane plans to expand beyond Botswana, taking his company international.
His immediate sights are set on Lesotho, while he is also looking at the possibility of setting up in Zambia and Rwanda.
“We are close to finishing registering the business in Lesotho; we won’t leave Botswana just for greener pastures but due to frustrations of doing business here,” he concludes.