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The esteemed engineer

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The esteemed engineer
Francisco Malesela Kgoboko

Francisco Malesela Kgoboko is the founder of FMK Global Holdings Engineering Consultancy. Charming and intelligent in equal measure, the multi-talented Motswana is also an Entrepreneur, Chemical & Mineral Processing Engineer, founder of Startup Nations Botswana, Farming Entrepreneur and Youth & Economic Empowerment Activist Chair Person among other responsibilities.

He is currently working on establishing an innovation factory that will bring the best technologies to solve local needs in Botswana and setting up the Botswana Business Angels Investment Network.

Kgoboko founded FMK Global to offer turnkey engineering solutions for companies in the Mining, Industrial, Medical, Food and Beverages Gas Plants and construction sectors.

His successful commercial integrated farming business encompasses horticulture, fodder production, farm produce, amongst other disciplines.

He recently attended the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.

The event attracts thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and supporters from all over the world.

Our Reporter Portia Ngwako-Mlilo had a chat with this larger-than-life engineer about his career and reputed political ambitions.

Q. What prompted you to start an engineering consultancy company?

A. To break the stereotype and make entrepreneurship a normal in Botswana in the 21st Century as opposed to formal employment of the 20th Century.

I am a global consultant and mentor up-and-coming engineers as well as entrepreneurs in the field of engineering.

Q. Some years back you introduced Startup Nations Botswana, what is its purpose?

A. I am a leader of the Startup Nations in Botswana and a member the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), collaborating on a range of initiatives in more than 170 countries to make it easier for anyone anywhere to start and scale a business.

Ranging from efforts to inspire and educate promising entrepreneurs, to advancing research and policies that create an environment conducive to starting and growing firms, GEN operates in all types of economies and cultures facilitating the spread of knowledge on ways to help entrepreneurs create jobs, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic stability around the world.

Q. You recently attended the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Istanbul, kindly share with our readers what the event was about?

A. Every year thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other start-up champions like me from every nation meet to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new businesses around the world.

Delegates make live connections, share knowledge and experience, gain insights, learn about new research and leave ready to renew their programs and policy efforts.

This year GEC was celebrating its 10 years of existence.

The milestone gathering featured numerous sessions and networking opportunities for sharing and inspiration, learning and exploration and aligning and reflection.

Q. What did you learn that could potentially benefit Botswana’s economy?

A. Technology exponential thinking that is moving from incremental to truly disruptive innovations in how we live, work and interact.

I have learnt how to address obstacles from personal mindsets to systemic discrimination and engrained cultural hurdles.

I was able to gain valuable insight from leaders in the field on the key elements of ecosystems that encourage entrepreneurial growth and are conducive to innovation.

I participated in a wide array of sessions on everything from crowd funding and co-founder matchmaking to angel investing and public policies to promote entrepreneurial growth.

I will share knowledge with youth and implement what I have learnt.

Q. I understand one of the connections you made in Turkey, the veteran American astronaut Greg Johnson will soon be coming to Botswana.

Why is it important to have him addressing students here?

A. It is very difficult to dream until you have seen with your eyes.

Botswana education curriculum is now on its 81st year and we have produced zero astronauts.

Space innovation is a possibility and bringing astronauts who have been to space like Greg will inspire many and maybe in the next 20 years Botswana will have its first astronaut.

Q. As a Youth and Economic Empowerment activist, what are some of the empowerment initiatives you have?

A. Startup Weekends, Startup Policy Hack, Accelerators and scale ups for Entrepreneurs.

Q. You were appointed patron of BOPSA at the end of last year, how has your journey been so far?

A. It has been an eye-opener for me.

I have come to appreciate so much that teachers contribute to the development of a learner, not only academically but also in extracurricular activities something that we would normally not be aware of.

Q. What are some of the challenges you face as the association?

A. To have a consistent league running for all age groups to help expose players to competitive sports.

We need more manpower to help monitor and evaluate sporting codes in all districts.

The association needs to upgrade the current crop of coaches to a higher level in order to meet the demands of the game.

There is lack of facilities, we need proper World Class Sport facilities to help players transform from BOPSSA to BISA.

There are new sport codes in our association like cricket and we need to introduce it across the country and we have challenges of equipment and facilities.

Q. You promised to try and secure private sector partnership when you were appointed, how’s that going?

A. It was only about three months ago that I was appointed and we are in the process of talking to our potential partners whom we will share with the media as soon as we conclude our discussions.

Q. You are also a leader of Botswana Alumni Association, what is its mandate?

A. Our aim is to strengthen the partnership between alumni, the community, schools and Ministry of Basic Education and Skills Development.

To recognise alumni associations and others (National Parent Teacher Association, Ducere, Class Volunteers, Mentorships, Adopt a School, school alumni) as key stakeholders in the education system of today.

To assess the needs of alumni associations working with schools in order to better understand their needs and serve their community.

To coordinate, regulate and harmonize affiliate alumni bodies activities nationally and internationally.

Q. You are said to be eyeing a Parliamentarian position in the next General Election, is this true?

A. (Laughing) I cannot confirm nor deny.

I am respectful of BDP primaries rules and procedures, which do not allow campaigns as yet.

Q. When did you develop an interest in politics?

A. Politics is a part of our everyday life. In fact it’s not about the interest, it is about the choice of the kind of life you want to live.

You either choose to fight for a seat on bus or redeem your right to get a seat on the bus.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. My late father, Pastor Silas Legigo Kgoboko

Q. What advice can you give to young people aspiring to be engineers?

A. It is possible but you must work hard and it’s a requirement to be extremely intelligent in Mathematics and Sciences.

You have to be passionate about the Science subjects!

Q. Women are seemingly reluctant to pursue careers in engineering, what are you doing to encourage them to change this mindset?

A. I continue to coach, mentor and motivate the girl child whenever I come across them in Primary, Secondary or University and through motivational talks around the country

Q. And finally, Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

A. This weekend my wife and I will attend the 3rd annual Bobirwa Cultural Festival in Bobonong to celebrate our Sebirwa culture.