Preparation meets opportunity

Boitumelo Maswabi
WOMAN ON TOP: Boago Ngwigwa

“When the time is right, I, the lord, will make it happen.”

Roman philosopher, Seneca, famously said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Centuries later, Boago Ngwigwa’s foray into the world of event management bears testament to this.

The 36-year-old was already the owner of three vintage stores across the city before she set up Booh Events two years ago.

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In a serendipitous moment while shopping for clothes, a random client was so impressed by the striking interior decor of her home that she immediately entrusted Ngwigwa with organising an important occasion.

For three months following that first commission, the ambitious entrepreneur – who will soon complete her ACCA qualification in Business Management (Finance for Non-Financial Managers and Postgraduate Diploma in Taxation) with Botswana Accountancy College – was fully booked.

Indeed, her love for the finer things in life, coupled with a spirit of entrepreneurship and hard work instilled in her by Adventist parents, make Booh Events one of the outstanding planners of top-drawer events in town, ensuring a steady stream of customers.

Voice Woman sits with Ngwigwa for a lighthearted chat about her startup and the joy of curating ‘memorable and flawlessly executed’ events for both private clients and public sector organisations.

Give us a bit of your backstory, who is Boago Ngwigwa?

I was born on April 26th, 1988.

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My dad is Kalanga from Maitengwe and my mum is from Kanye.

Although I grew up in Letlhakane-la-Orapa, the family later moved to Kanye where I completed my senior school.

I was raised in a strict Adventist family and, in our household, prayer is everything.

Mum always made sure my brother and I assisted our helper with certain chores.

Little did I know she was raising me to be the hardworking woman that I am today.

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We were taught cleanliness, our Fridays were ‘iketleetso’, meaning we prepare for the Sabbath.

At my grandmother’s house, every Sabbath, I had to make sure there was proper cultural corner and a little food station setup to dine; that’s how much I loved the finer things.

My early years were marked by a deep-rooted passion for business and a natural inclination towards leadership.

What inspired you to go into events?

Isaiah 60:22 “When the time is right, I, the lord, will make it happen.”

I sell vintage clothing, and operated three stalls around Gaborone.

So, a client came to buy a few items and she liked my house, she then insisted that I do her 30th birthday.

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I called my cousin, who owns an events company, rented some items and delivered!

Everyone liked the set-up, that was on 29th January, 2022 – the beginning of Booh Events.

From the moment I posted the pictures, I became fully booked until April 2022.

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Is there a difference between event planning and event management?

Event planning focuses on the pre-event aspects such as conceptualisation, logistics, and budgeting, while event management deals with the execution and coordination of the event on the day or during the event period.

Both roles are essential for ensuring the event’s success.

Talking of success, what skills are necessary for one to succeed in this business?

Succeeding in the events management business requires a diverse set of skills that encompass both technical expertise and interpersonal abilities.

Events management involves juggling multiple tasks and details simultaneously.

Being organised and able to prioritise tasks effectively is crucial for keeping events on track and ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Strong communication skills are essential – clear and concise communication helps ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, leading to successful event execution.

Above all, I say passion; be passionate about what you are doing.

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How many people do you employ?

I employ a team of six employees and we do hire casual staff when necessary.

Where do you find inspiration for new ideas?

For me, I will say it’s God-given; it comes naturally.

However, I always ask my clients for inspirational pictures to incorporate.

What is the largest and most prestigious event you have ever done?

When I was seven months into the business, we did the VIP tent for Dithubaruba Cultural Festival, one of the most recognised festivals in our country.

We also did a two-day wedding for a total of 530 people as well as the Multichoice Botswana Christmas party where we had to execute and plan the whole event with not only provision of décor but all-in-one.

Talk us through challenges women entrepreneurs face in your industry?

• Gender bias: women may face discrimination or are overlooked for opportunities or promotions based on their gender.
• Male-dominated leadership: in some cases, event management companies may have predominantly male leadership teams, which can create barriers for women seeking advancement or recognition within the organisation.
• Work-Life Balance: long hours, irregular schedules, and weekend work, make it challenging for women to balance their professional and personal lives, particularly if they have care-giving responsibilities.
• Networking challenges: is essential for career growth, but women may face barriers such as exclusion from male-dominated social circles or industry events.
• Client Perception and bias: about women’s competence or capabilities in leadership roles.
• Limited access to resources: such as funding for professional development or opportunities for high-profile projects or assignments.

What is your ambition for Booh Events?

To go international.

I am also working on adopting a few shelters to feed the needy, create more employment opportunities and take resources up North; I am Kalanga.

Any advice for up-and-coming female entrepreneurs?

Patience, hard work, good communication and, above all, pray without ceasing!

As a fervent Christian, what scripture guides you in life?

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Modimo oa reetsa, Modimo o mogolo (God listens, He is Almighty).

Mama’s prayers have carried me this far.

Allow me to thank the Ngwigwa family for their support and prayers, my partner, my boss, my friends and clients who have become family.

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