Businesswoman of note
Daisy Molefhi might be known in some circles as a cabinet minister’s wife but in the education sector she is well known as the brains behind ABM University College, one of the country’s oldest private tertiary institutions.
In fact she says it’s uncalled for to be looked at as a minister’s wife and be judged as such because she is an individual in her own right who is running a business and providing a service she is passionate about.
In this interview, the soft spoken education enthusiast, who is also a teacher by profession talks about how ABM University College came to being, her achievements and also gives us a peek into her life.
Q. Your passion for education, where did it come from?
My mother was passionate about education because of my grandfather’s experience from second war world.
When he came back he was highly appreciative of how education and religion can impact a person’s life so my mother made sure all of her children got education.
That attitude had great influence on my view of education and I believe that in as much as it not everything in life, education can open many doors which could not have opened if one did not have a certain level of education.
It’s one thing that can never be taken away from an individual.
Q. Tell us about ABM College University, how did it start?
It was a combination of being passionate about education and being an entrepreneur as I come from a family which believes so much in entrepreneurship.
I started the institution sometime in 1989 with a partner but two years later we had irreconcilable differences and we parted ways.
Because of what I had gone through with my previous partner we just decided to make it a family business.
The journey hasn’t been smooth sailing but I am happy we persevered.
Q. You been running the institution for a long time now…
ABM is actually one of the oldest private institutions in the country.
Quite a number of institutions mushroomed back then but most of them fell by the wayside partly because they could not meet the requirements when instruments were set up to monitor the quality of education offered by private institutions.
Q. What exactly motivated you to start the institution?
I realised a gap as there were people who wanted to further their education and acquire skills but could not be absorbed into the UB (University of Botswana).
So I decided to play my part in the sector.
Yes it’s a business but it’s more to do with doing what I am passionate about.
Q. Looking back and at the space you are in now would you say yes! I made it?
My greatest satisfaction comes from the fact that BQA (Botswana Qualifications Authority) and HRDC (Human Resource Development Council) came to being while I was Boccim (now Business Botswana) chairperson for private education sector.
I am not claiming all the glory as it was all team effort but I am happy I was part of the team that achieved these major milestones in the country’s tertiary education sector.
The idea was to drive quality, grow human resource base and ensure that there are organisations that keep the sector in check and here were are now talking about BQA and HRDC.
Q. You are talking quality education yet in 2014, ABM College was accused of offering fake qualifications…
If that had come from BQA I would understand because that is the body that deals with such issues but no, some people just decided to smear my name and the institution for reasons best known to them.
And you know you media people like such stories, but look we knew the truth.
In any case how does an institution offer a fake qualification when there are systems and organisations like BQA to constantly check on quality.
Q. Form Five results have just been released and results don’t look good, where do you think the problem is?
It’s quite sad and unfortunate that the pass rate is so low but all hope is not lost, there is a chance to improve going forward.
Stakeholders need to look into these results to see where the problem is and properly address it.
But I also feel we have overlooked the foundation of a child’s education.
Laying a good foundation is important in everything and I think that’s one of the things that need to be seriously looked into in the education system.
Q. Opposition leader Duma Boko actually described the public education system as a disaster, your take on that?
I wouldn’t want to respond to that but I think we should appreciate the fact that these public schools have produced some of the country’s best leaders in various sectors.
Q. You are married to a minister (Nonofo Molefhi), does that normally work for or against you in running your business?
I wouldn’t say it has worked for or against me but I think it’s unfair for people to judge me as a minister’s wife because when we married he was not a minister.
I am an individual in my own right, I have a personal career and a passion that I am pushing which I was still going to do even if my husband was not a minister.
My husband is supportive and to a great extent I wouldn’t be what I am today without his support.
We support each other and always want to bring out the best in each other.
I want him to be the best in what he does and he wants the same for me.
But anyway unfair as it is to be always looked at as a minister’s wife I guess it comes with the territory.
Q. Minister Molefhi’s name always crops up in BDP succession stories and speculation is rife that he could become the VP and possible the next president, what comes into your mind when you read such stories, imagining yourself as future first lady?
People are entitled to their opinions and when I read those stories I always say let them feast on their opinion.
So really I can’t validate people’s views about such things.
Q. The minister is also normally described as a ‘clean’, level headed politician..
We are a Christian family which leads a principled life guided by the Bible which is our major blue print.
There are certain principles such as honesty and intergrity that we don’t compromise on.
Being Christians also means we always pray and seek God’s guidance, in fact we pray together every day as a family without fail.
Q. But how it is being a prominent politician’s wife?
He is a politician and a public servant but for me he is a husband and a father and the good thing is that we both appreciate that no matter what, family comes first.
When he got into politics it was never easy because we were used to being together as a family all the time then suddenly he had to divide his time to fulfill all his roles.
Q. How long have you been married?
Since 1987. We were joined together at AFM where we are also now church elders by pastor Johannes Kgwarapi, he is still our pastor to this day.
Q. How have you managed to stick together all these years considering that nowadays it’s mostly married today, divorced tomorrow?
Our marriage is founded on Godly principles and remember a family that prays together stays together.
People should learn to pray and divorce should never be an option, in fact couples should create an environment which never makes one party think of a divorce.
It’s also important for wives and husbands to know their roles and place in a marriage.
Same goes with the children, if everyone plays his/her part then life becomes much more easy.
Q. If one was to draw a list of Botswana’s richest couples, would you be in that list?
We are not rich but we are grateful for what we have.
Q. Mma Molefhi, thank you for your time but before you go, what’s up for the weekend.
Nothing specific planned but if we are not attending social gatherings such weddings or attending a funeral I normally spend my weekends at home.
I love gardening and that is what I spend my free time doing.
Then of course there is church on Sunday as I mentioned that we are devoted Christians.