When life gives you lemons, make lemonade; so goes the old adage and that’s exactly what former Miss Botswana Malebogo Marumoaga did.
When she lost her job as a television presenter in 2012 she turned the negative development into a spring board to kick start her business.
Today Marumoaga is the Managing Director of Belle Larissa Personal Image Consultants, a company that provides corporate training/ coaching on etiquette, image development and personal branding.
The 33-year-old Tonota born beauty queen was recently awarded Women in Business Association (WIBA) Young Entrepreneur of the year, an award which she says made her realise that hard work pays.
The Voice Reporter Portia Ngwako Mlilo had a chat with the determined, young achiever to talk about her business, award and personal life.
Q. You lost your job in 2012 as a television presenter to start your own business. How difficult or easy is it to start a business?
A. In hind-sight, I think it was the best thing to ever happen to me.
Losing my job was a blessing in disguise! However, unprepared as I was at the time, plans to start my business were already underway, so instead of job hunting I decided to pursue my dream.
It wasn’t easy, but it taught me a lot.
The company was registered in 2009 and is accredited by Botswana Qualification Authority.
Q. You’re an etiquette trainer, what is that all about?
A. Simply put, etiquette is good manners. It is a set of rules that govern socially accepted behavior.
It is about showing respect and making others feel comfortable and at ease when they are around you.
Q. Is it something that local people consider in their daily lives?
A. Etiquette is not a new thing in Botswana.
It is only that until recently, no one has made noise about it! But it is something that we need in our everyday lives.
In our culture, we call it Botho.
It is behaving graciously in any given situation and people are beginning to understand that they need to know more about it.
Q. How do people respond to your business?
A. There are people who really appreciate etiquette, people who understand that having etiquette is a requirement for civilization.
The response from those people has been great. Companies are bringing their staff for training.
We train them among other things to improve their self esteem, confidence and assertiveness.
Q. You are known for giving free advice on social media and one of them was about wrist watch.
Does it matter which hand you wear it on and the size?
A. Well, it doesn’t matter which hand you wear your wrist watch on.
It all depends on preference. Size also doesn’t really matter.
The size of watches has also gotten bigger for both male and female, it is all up to an individual’s taste.
But generally, women’s wrist watches are smaller, especially for work.
Q. You were recently awarded Young Entrepreneur WIBA award.
What does it take for one to be the best in running a business?
A. Running a business is not a walk in the park.
It takes a lot of sacrifice and hard-work.
You need to have a lot of patience especially when things are not going the way you had expected.
One also needs to do an extensive research before starting a business, you also need to keep your records and ensure that you understand what goes on in every area of your business be it in marketing or accounting.
Q. What does this award mean to you?
A. This award means so much to me.
It is confirmation that I am doing something right.
Over and above that, it has inspired me to work harder than before.
It has shown me that with hard-work, determination and perseverance, nothing is impossible.
Q. How do you think this will help in as far as your business is concerned?
A. The award has really helped our business in terms of marketing.
We have received a lot of support since.
But more than anything, I think companies want to work with credible service providers and this ward has put us up there.
Q. And what challenges do you face in your business?
A. Every business has its own challenges and Belle Larissa is no exception.
We however work hard to ensure that we do not let our daily challenges stop us from achieving what we have set ourselves to do.
Q. Where do you see your business in the coming years?
A. We have intentions of expanding to two more towns and two countries in the next five years.
We also intend to add more courses to our offering.
Q. What advice can you give to aspiring young business men and women?
A. I would like to advice young people to follow their dreams and not give up no matter how tough the going gets.
There are so many brilliant young people around here, all they need is to take that first step.
I would also urge those already established in business to help mentor those who are starting.
Q. Who is you inspiration?
A. My mother, she is a hardworking, loving and God- fearing woman.
I am also inspired by people who make something out of their lives no matter their circumstances.
Q. Take us back to 2006 when you were crowned Miss Botswana. How did it feel to be named the most beautiful?
A. It was all so surreal.
I knew I could win but when it happened, I was speechless.
It was a beautiful feeling. I had always wanted to be Miss Botswana so winning the title really boosted my confidence.
I started to believe even more that I can be anything that I dream of.
Q. For the past years there have been issues with Miss Botswana not getting their prize money.
Did you also experience such?
A. During my time, there was no prize money.
However, I got all my prizes.
Q. Are beauty queens born or made?
A. That’s a tough one to answer.
I have seen girls who grew up as hard core tomboys and later on became beauty queens.
I on the other hand started contesting in beauty pageants since I was 10
Q. What do you think can be done to improve Miss Botswana pageant?
A. We need people who have expertise in different areas needed to facilitate the smooth running of the pageant.
More should also be done to groom the queen.
Q. Now let’s get personal.
Are you seeing someone and any plans to start a family?
A. I am currently single and yes would love to have children someday, as many as God can give me.
Q. And pastime, what do you do?
A. I love reading and also enjoy yoga to calm my mind and emotions.
Q. Thank God its Friday. Any plans for the weekend?
A. I will be home getting ready for our final children’s grooming and etiquette class tomorrow.