After studying marketing overseas, Kenalemang Ndubo, 38, taught business studies at Lotsane Secondary School for three years but the job was too monotonous for her and she decided to look for something more challenging.
Speaking from Haas Sportswear Manufacturers, her factory at Palapye old mall, the enterprising business lady says, “It was a dead end for me. Imagine teaching the same syllabus year in year out. Here I learn new things everyday through mistakes.”
The business was started in 2012 when she came back from overseas where she had returned to learn about embroidery and digital printing.
She says she worked for Providence, a T-shirt factory and attended training provided by the factory.
When she quit her teaching job in 2007, she says she had realised that there was a lack of football kits for clubs and schools in Palapye.
Team logos, players’ numbers were done as far as Gaborone and Francistown resulting in delays and she decided to put that to an end.
Haas manufactures sportswear and corporate promotional T-shirts and the biggest customers are government, schools, BIUST, social clubs and professional teams such as Motlakase and Orapa United as well as constituency tournament clubs.
They also do embroidery and digital printing.
Leaning forward on her reception counter the passionate business woman says despite finding her passion, running a business is no child’s play.
“It’s a roller coaster. From May through to July business is slow because sports is a summer thing but now it’s starting to pick up,” she said.
Just like all other businesses without power back up, load shedding has been a major challenge for Haas affecting delivery time.
“My customers are satisfied except when there are power issues. Our machines need a big generator which we can’t afford right now.”
Having to source material from outside Palapye also affects delivery time as she says she has to be there to select her material.
While she appreciates competition, Ndubo says the kind she gets from Palapye gives her business a bad reputation.
“Their prices are low but so is their quality therefore customers get the impression that we are expensive. Because we have made a name for ourselves in Palapye people think every T-shirt is done by us. Recently a fuming customer complained that we had done sub standard work for her but when she looked at her invoice she discovered it was a competitor’s work.”
Ndubo however says despite all these challenges, the future is bright.
“We’ve been using a two head machine which makes two T-shirts at a time and we are trying to secure an eight head. We are losing business because customers go to competitors. They can’t afford to wait for our machine.”
“Six of us work here but in five years I want to have grown the business to thrice the current size and employ eight more young Batswana. I wish to have Palapye VTC students to be attached here. We will further give them some opportunity to work with us after completion of course.”
“This space, which is ideal for location is too small so we will move out to bigger premises. I have twelve machines at home and some of my staff working from there.”
She further states that she positions her business for growth by marketing it through fliers and word of mouth. In fact, she says 80% of her clients are referrals.
“We attend shows and very soon we’ll be branding our vehicle for visibility purposes,” says the single mother of two daughters.