Turning stones into life

Baitshepi Sekgweng
  • meet the boss

Although he graduated in Geology, Odirile Kaang was all set to spend his professional career running a car rental and organising safari tours.

However, a freak accident in 2018, in which the 36-year-old lost two of his fingers, changed the course of his life forever.

Determined to turn his pain into something productive, the Serowe native reinvested his energies in the side-hustle that cost him his two digits: carving tombstones.

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It proved an inspired decision.

With its headquarters in Gaborone and further offices in Francistown and Molepolole, Geo Stones now has eight permanent employees and four part-time workers.

This is Kaang’s story of survival…

Kindly introduce yourself?

I come from Serowe and I am 36 years of age. I studied BSc in Geology at University of Botswana.

Take us through your career path before you established Geo Stones?

My previous experience in the work industry is being an intern at Debswana.

My first step of entrepreneurship began by quitting internship and venturing into car rental and safari business.

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As Managing Director, what do your daily duties include?

My duties include helping customers design tombstones according to their desire and culture since I am also hands on.

Importing granites from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and as far as China and arranging for installation of tombstones forms part of my work.

What services and products does the company offer?

Geo Stones specialises in selling tombstones, tiles, natural stone tiles, granite kitchen tops and recently introduced cladding and other stones works.

Turning stones into life

Tells us about the birth of Geo Stones, how did it come about?

I was introduced to the business by a cousin while in the last year of my degree program in 2011, while I was helping him to run his car rental business.

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After completing my studies, I then ran the car rental business with my cousin before I was called by Debswana as an intern in 2013.

I served for only three months before quitting to open my business, Atlas Tours & Safaris which was mainly doing car rentals and safari tours.

In 2016 I purchased a boat through the help of Letshego and continued to open an office in Kasane where I was running boat cruises and other activities like game drives, hiring cars from other companies.

I started tombstones in the same year, after a friend of mine told me it’s a viable business; I considered the idea since I was a geology student and having studied stones and their uses that was the birth of Geo Stones.

I then started importing tombstones from SA on a very small scale.

Sounds like you were quite the go-getter?

I was operating three businesses in both Kasane and Gaborone having to travel every week between the places using buses and sometimes driving.

In 2018 I was involved in an accident that almost ended my career – I cut two of my fingers in South Africa while importing tombstones.

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I spent two months in a hospital bed and that’s when I made a decision that since tombstones made me disabled, it is the business which has to turn my life around!

After the accident I had to sell the boat, and sell my car rental business and focus on the entity that made me disabled.

What sets Geo Stones apart from other industry players?

Geo Stones is highly established business that specialises in the use of stones to make stone products.

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In Geo Stones you will find a geologist that will make you choose the best stones you want for your loved ones.

Where do you want the company to be in the next five years?

I want to see Geo Stones as the main supplier of tombstones and want to start manufacturing them locally to create more jobs.

I also want to start manufacturing other stone products, like: gladding stones, washing basins and many others using my qualifications as a geologist.

What is the highlight of your career?

So far the highlight of my career is when I decided to quit as a geology intern from a big company like Debswana and established my business.

It was a risk worth taking which is now paying dividends.

Also I managed to buy workshop space and office in a prime area for the business.

What challenges does Geo Stones face?

The challenges we face include the high prices of granites, fuel and lack of skilled labour in stone industries.

Are there any plans to grow the enterprise beyond it current footprint?

Yes, I want to turn this venture into a business hub for stones manufacturing products and supply other companies in Botswana.

What motivates you to keeping working hard?

Being a father motivates me to do better daily, to build a legacy for my kids.

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Your word of encouragement to aspiring business owners?

I encourage youth and other people to never give up on their dreams.

Rather than spending years sobbing and pitying myself, I knew it was time to turn my life around and become a better person both in personal development and as an entrepreneur.

I perceive myself as an example to the youth.

It’s my passion to see people taking challenges as opportunities to better themselves.

What keeps you busy when you are not at work?

I do a whole lot of things like travelling, watching soccer and professional hunting.

Turning stones into life

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