Realising that having a stethoscope around his neck was not giving him that satisfaction, a relatively young Dr Tiro Mampane gave it up and joined the world of entrepreneurs.
While he refuses to admit it, his perseverance in a business journey marked by lack of capital and frequently closed doors seems to have paid off as he can now be counted amongst the country’s successful young business people.
In an interview from the spacious boardroom of his company offices in Masa Centre last Friday, Dr Mampane, 38, spoke of amongst other things, how he is not primarily driven by constantly checking his bank balance but the desire to change people’s lives for the better.
Below are the excerpts.
Q. You seem to be doing well and now have three companies in your group, what’s the bigger dream, hoping to one day make it into the list of Africa’s richest?
No, that’s not the dream, that’s not what inspires me to wake up every morning and look forward to another new day.
As you know we have Boitekanelo Group of Companies with the health college being the main company that we started.
The dream is to transform it into a university although we still have a long way to go.
We want our institution to be a training school of choice in health related programmes not only in Botswana but in the region.
I believe we are in the right track as we have invested in the needed infrastructure and have employed highly qualified personnel including a recently recruited professor from the US.
We want to play our part in ensuring that Botswana becomes an education hub.
Q. Ok I hear you, is that it?
The dream is also to positively change as many lives as possible and to help as many people as I can.
Boitekanelo Group of Companies has more than 300 employees and if these people and those around them are happy then I am happy.
I want my employees to be able to buy houses and provide for their families, that is the dream and not to have millions in my bank account.
Q. Really Dr Mampane…
Look I am not saying I don’t need the money, it’s good to have money as it enables me to do things I would not have done if I didn’t have that cash but that’s not the main motivating factor.
Q. What things are we talking of here?
I mean being able to help other people, being able to buy my mother a house and being able to look after my family.
We are also in the process of coming up with Boitekanelo Foundation where we will be working closely with Dipsy Selolwane (former soccer star).
The idea is to provide medical services to footballers as a way of giving back to the community.
Q. You are a medical doctor and your line of business has been in the medical field but you now have a catering company, why that diversion towards a somewhat different field altogether?
(Laughs) It’s healthy catering. Our Indian catering company in UK is not really a diversion from our core business as we offer healthy menus planned by our nutritionists and dieticians.
The food we serve is not your usual oily foods but well cooked healthy meals.
The idea is to also create employment for our students and to ensure they gain experience.
Q. Are we likely to see Boitekanelo Group adding another company in its portfolio?
At the moment we are not planning on anything new but consolidating and working on expanding into Zambia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
But honestly it’s difficult to say yes or no in terms of adding another company into the group in future because as entrepreneurs we respond to market needs.
You know the late Steve Jobs didn’t initially start with what he eventually became known for but because he saw a gap in the market we now know him as the man behind apple products in particular iphones.
Q. There is a general belief that private institutions are only after making money and not providing quality education, your response to that?
If I respond to that it would be like I am just doing lip service.
Our students, both former and current are better placed to respond to that question as well as BQA (Botswana Qualifications Authority).
Q. As an entrepreneur would you say Botswana has a conducive environment for entrepreneurship?
In Botswana even if you are a nobody you can still excel when you work hard.
You don’t have to have a certain surname or be linked to other people to achieve your dreams.
I am just a Mampane, a name with no link to who is who in high offices but I managed to set up our company.
The main problem though is that as Batswana we don’t believe in one another hence it’s not surprising that most foreign owned companies are doing better than citizen owned entities.
We just have to work extra hard to prove ourselves.
Q. And corruption, how bad is this ill?
You know some government departments are supposed to work with us and make sure that we succeed as young entrepreneurs but civil servants in those departments are so scared to make sincere decisions in our favour because they fear that would amount to corruption.
They can’t even share ideas or advise us because that would be seen as favouring Dr Mampane.
While corruption is condemned, the way people are scared to make decisions doesn’t work in our favour at times.
Apart from that, the other thing that has kept corruption levels low in Botswana is that despite the economy shrinking people are still able to access services.
In other countries citizens have to pay someone to get a passport.
Q. What would you attribute your success to?
I don’t think I am successful, hardworking yes.
Q. You don’t have to be apologetic about your success…
I am not apologetic about it but you make it sound as though it’s a one man’s thing.
Whatever Boitekanelo Group of Companies has achieved is not solely because of me but people around me like Bickie (Phetogo, the group’s Marketing Manager), who contributed immensely to what you want to call my success.
So really I can’t say I made it when there have been other people around me, it has been a collective effort.
Q. Most business people venture into politics at some point in their lives, are we likely to see you in freedom squares at some point in your life?
Not in politics never.
Q. So you not interested in politics?
I am interested but not in that way.
Obviously as human beings and as business people we need that economic and political stability so we can’t really ignore politics of the day.
Q. Obviously there are people who think you have money and would approach you as a person or Boitekanelo to ask for cash and donations, how do you handle that?
Eish, as if you know, some I dodge (laughs) but some of course we give what we can give.
Q. Besides running your business, what else are you interested in?
I like travelling and seeing new places.
Q. Which place did you last visit?
I was in Las Vegas (US) recently.
Q. Enjoying the fruits of your business…
(Laughs) No, it was actually a business trip. I had gone for a health IT conference.
Q. Tell us about your family
I am married to a very beautiful woman and we have been blessed with two children.
You know here at Boitekanelo we have a men’s club where I encourage fellow men to take the marriage institution very seriously as it brings stability to one’s life.
There are men who joined Boitekanelo not believing in marriage but now they do because of our interactions.
Q. And what car do you drive?
(Laughs) Nya that’s not important, you media people like asking that question, does it really matter what car I drive.
But anyway if you must know I am driving a G-wagon.
Q. How would you describe yourself?
I am jolly person (Laughs)
Q. Thanks for your time Dr Mampane but before we go, another weekend is upon us, what will you be up to?
I am an Adventist so I go to church on Saturdays though not religiously then Sundays I am usually home relaxing.