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Started from the bottom

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Growing up in a poor family did not deter him from living his dream of a good life! At the age of 32, he has achieved what many of his age can only dream of.

A hard worker who believes that for one to make it in life they have to work hard, Tebogo Phalaagae is not your ordinary young man.
Voice Journalist MMIKA SOLOMON sits down with him for a chat about how he started from the bottom and managed to get where he is right now.

It has been a while since we met. What have you been up to?

Indeed. I have been very busy of late. As you know I have plenty on my plate to deal with.

It will be an honour if you were to introduce yourself to our readers.
I am Tebogo Phalaagae from Mochudi. I am 30 years of age. I am married with four kids.

Tell us a little about what you do for a living.

I multi-task. There is no one thing that I can say I do. I am a family man, a businessman, a politician and motor sport racer.

What does your business portfolio entail?

I am the only Motswana that owns an earth-moving driving school. I have a transport business which includes buses that I have leased out to the mines. My other business interests are truck business amongst many others. My passion is business is inspired by the need to create employment to help people sustain themselves. Very soon I will be looking for investment opportunities in South Africa.

Does that mean you are not in business primarily for money or you are trying to pull a public relations stunt?

I don’t chase money. Money comes because of the hard work that I put in whatever I do. Take for example my earth-moving driving school located in Metsimotlhabe, I did it to fill a gap in the market after realizing that no one in Botswana was doing it. I got trained in South Africa. After I qualified I asked the same school to partner with me so that I can help my fellow countrymen to have the same skill that I have

Fair enough. Then money started rolling in, right?

Certainly! There is no way you can avoid the rewards. If I can just share with you what this school has produced, you will be shocked. I have trained about 7 000 people in the last four years. Most of them work in the mines. In a way I have helped government to have qualified earth-moving drivers. The only requirement needed to drive these excavators is a junior certificate. After completion you are given a certificate not a drivers license because earth moving machines are not supposed to be driven on public roads.

How are these people paid?

They can get at least P18 000.00 per month depending on who you are working for. I have even been approached by government to train people here because they have realized that not everyone can attain a degree or work in the office. I have people who have left their jobs to go and drive these big machines. It only takes six months to get a certificate.

In politics what are you doing?

I am councilor at Kgatleng District Council under the UDC.

Why politics?

I have realized that there was a gap between the old and the youth. So I took it upon myself to stand for elections so that the youth can relate with me because I am one of their own.

Will you be standing for a parliamentary seat in future?

Definitely, in 2019 I will stand in Mochudi East.
Family man, businessman and politics. is it easy to mix and juggle them?
It depends on how you allocate your time to each one of them. I have managed to juggle all of them without a hassle.

The reason I am asking is because sometimes it’s the family that suffers when a husband works too hard. Does it happen to you?

I am committed to my family. I respect my wife and kids. I will not do anything that would jeopardize my relationship with my family. In any situation family comes first. Not even a high paying job comes before family. I know a lot of characters that had to divorce because they allowed women to destroy their marriages all in the name of business or politics. I am clear my brother my wife is my friend.

So you value and respect the institution of marriage?

In a marriage set up there is control. Men don’t do as they please. For instance my wife treats me the way she treat her kids. She has control over me and for that I respect her. I understand her. When she talks I listen and do as she wants. If you want to be happy in a marriage listen to your wife, don’t argue then you will stay happy together. It’s as simple as simple as that. The woman is the boss of the home.

How was your upbringing? Are you from a well off family?

It was rough! My parents had the first waterborne toilet because of me. I made sure that I don’t sleep so that they too can live better. I grew up seeing other kids playing with toys, I didn’t have that opportunity.

Then how did you make it?

Hard work my brother. There is this perception that children of the poor cannot make it in life. That is all wrong. Poverty doesn’t have to be hereditary. If you work hard in everything you do then you will be successful. In Botswana you can still work for three companies. All you need is to manage your time and plan better. I am still trying to live the life. I am not there yet. Anybody can make it in life, success is not reserved for certain individuals only.

What else would you still want to do?

I want to venture into commercial farming. I have realized yet again that most Batswana farm for subsistance purposes and not for profit.

Early on you talked about motor sport. What exactly do you do there?

I am drag racer, I use the old BMW (Gusheshe) to race. I also ride a quad bike to do stunts or race off road. I have been racing for quite some time now. In-fact I do it during my spare time. Even spinning the vehicle, I can do it.

But it is not allowed in this country to do such things.

That is the problem with my country. There are no recreational facilities. I stayed in London, I did not drink because there was plenty of entertainment centers. Here, the only entertainment we have is bars. This is all wrong.

Feel Good it’s Friday what are you up to?

Fridays are reserved for my family. I spend all Fridays if possible with my family.

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