Growing up as a young man in Francistown Kutlo Manhattan Marman was gripped by the hip hop spirit which was making waves in the 90s.
Unable to resist the genre which was associated with baggy low cut jeans, man’s earrings, chain necklaces and basketball shirts he together with two other boys formed a musical group which they called Lords of the Ghetto.
They recorded an album and entertained audiences in all the corners of the country. Fast forward to 2012, Kutlo is no longer that rapper who was synonymous with music and oversized clothes but a savvy Banker who is always looking suave on dapper suits assisting small to medium scale enterprises (SMME) in Botswana through his employer Standard Chartered Bank. We sat down with him to hear how he transformed and his hopes for the future.
FROM A HIP HOP ARTIST TO A BANKER
From a rapper back in the days to the man that you are today, what prompted the change?
Being an artist was a hobby and a passing phase. When I got it into it I knew that it wasn’t going to be a lifetime thing, I knew what I eventually wanted to be and that is what I am today.
Does this mean that’s a closed chapter in your life and we won’t see you back in the entertainment industry?
Ya, it is very much closed, entertainment industry in Botswana does not pay at all and therefore very hard to have it as the only source of income.
Hip Hop in the US was associated with gangsters and drugs, did you also get caught up in that?
No we were not, we were very clean guys.
And what happened to other group members?
They are around and still in the entertainment industry though not really as artists.
Ok, let’s talk about your current career, where did you train and which financial institutions have you worked for?
I did my training at Botswana Accountancy College, for my internship I went to Price WaterHouseCoopers . My first employer was Barclays Bank before I moved to Corporate Finance Boutique in England. I came back to Botswana in 2009 to join Standard Chartered Bank where I am the current Business Relationship Manager. I mainly deal with SMMEs.
So you are the one giving out loans to the upcoming business men and women?
(Laughs) Not really, my role is to advice them. In as much as people walk through our doors to look for income, we also play an advisory role because people need to understand that running or starting a business is not only about money. A clear vision, commitment and passion are some of the things that contribute to a successful business.
But what does it take generally for SMME’s to be considered credit worthy by the banks?
Their ability to keep proper financial statements, the performance of their bank accounts with the banks, and their ability to make profits to enable them to fulfill their commitments. This calls for capacity building of SMEs in areas of business management (including financial record keeping) if they are to be rated as credit worthy borrowers by the banks.
And would you say SMMEs are doing well in the above and do you think the environment in the country is conducive for them to thrive?
Our SMME sector has improved over the years so yes I would say most are doing well in as far as book keeping is concerned. And of course the environment is conducive. You are aware that there is a call to diversify the country’s income and the government has identified the important role that SMMEs have in that regard and have obviously created that environment for them to do well.
Improvements need to be done in the sector in terms of how they conduct their business so they can compete globally and I am sure eventually we will get there.
You quit the entertainment industry and I am sure eventually you will also quit the banking sector, if you do what will be your next career move?
My dream is to be a philanthropist. I love helping people and bringing out the best in them and I would love to do that on a full time scale one day.
Enough of your career, let’s talk matters of the heart, what is happening in your love life?
(Smiles) Oh my God, didn’t think you will ask me such a question. (moments of silence but still smiling)
Will take your smile to mean yes there is someone in your life?
(Still smiling) Ya, she is there.
And why that big smile on your face, you must be head over heels in love, when are we getting the invite for the big day?
The thing is I never thought you would ask me about my love life, the question caught me off guard.
Of course I would, you are an eligible bachelor so we need to know what is happening. You didn’t answer the last bit of my question?
Eesh, the wedding bells are still far from ringing.
But you are old enough to marry and you have a woman in your life, so what’s the problem?
I believe there is a time for everything, yes I might be old enough but when the time has not come for me to marry and it hasn’t but when it does eventually come, I will put a ring on the chosen one.
And what qualities make up the woman of your dreams?
Hmmm, how do I answer that without mentioning the obvious clichés. I want a woman who is down to earth, not pretentious, someone who can accommodate and understand my strength and my weaknesses.
Ok, sure you will find that woman soon if she is not the one you are already seeing, thanks for your time.
You welcome and thank you.
FULL NAMES: Kutlo Manhattan Marman
DATE OF BIRTH: 24-11-76
MARITAL STATUS: Single
CAR DRIVING: Mercedes Benz C180
DREAM CAR: I am not a fanatic for cars, my dream is to rather own a private jet.
HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Anywhere where there is peace and tranquility.
TYPE OF MUSIC: Classic Old school hip hop & Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and Soul music.
BOOK CURRENTLY READING: Currently reading The Tanning of America (by Steve Stoute) and The untold story of Gobe Matenge (by Oagile Key Dingake)
HOW DO YOU RELAX: Unwinding with a glass of whisky in the company of my friends
FAVORITE FOOD: No favorite dish, I like different kinds of cuisine both local and international.