Like a chip off the old block Kagiso Kwelagobe is slowly building his name as a shrewd businessman.
The young Kwelagobe will soon step out of his father’s shadow by launching his own political path.
In this interview with The Voice reporter Daniel Kenosi, he opens about his business and aspirations of making it to parliament.
Q. Good day Kwelagobe. Please let us know your other names, if any.
Thanks. My name is Kagiso Kwelagobe. I come from Molepolole and was born so many years ago in the capital city.
I schooled in Gabs for sometime before moving to a boarding school in South Africa.
I have two older siblings and I’m the last born.
Q. How was the experience of being away from home at a young age?
I wouldn’t say it was nice but I am very thankful that my parents took me to boarding school at a young age and that is where I learnt to be independent and found ways to survive without my parents.
Q. Your father was a minister then. Did you get any special treatment at school?
No. People knew that DK was my father and that he had a high profile post within parliament but it didn’t really mean anything.
I was treated like any other student and more so that the school I went to had kids from affluent backgrounds so being a Botswana minister’s son was nothing.
My father also taught me that I was equal to anyone within my society.
Q. Did your father’s political role have any influence in you?
I am currently an entrepreneur and haven’t yet chosen active politics but as time goes on I would like to take that route and contest.
I am currently enrolled at some school studying politics.
Just to answer your question, my father’s political role has had so much influence in me but unfortunately my older brother doesn’t want anything to do with politics.
Q. You once defected from Botswana Democratic Party to BMD. What influenced that move?
My parents have always taught me to be independent in my decisions and I know most people were shocked as to why I crossed from my father’s party into opposition fold.
It was all my entire decision because I had noticed that the BDP was not stable. I later noticed that I took the decision out of anger so I retraced my steps.
What’s your take on the current political landscape in Botswana?
I have noticed that there are lots of political parties coming up.
As a BDP member I must say that it’s a good thing because competition is always appreciated as it keeps the ruling party active.
I believe that the ruling party has been able to do great for the citizens.
I can’t rule out the fact that some people are not happy but you know that even if you run a company of five people you can’t satisfy all of them and that’s what the president goes through as well in managing a population of over two million.
Q. I hear you get favors when tendering because your father is a well known political figure. Is that true?
That’s not true. My business does not depend on tenders. I work hard in delivering services that I offer.
My father is not even my business partner.
People will always have their own stories and that won’t stop me and my business partners from working hard.
Q. I understand you once stayed in Israel. Please share more
That’s true. It was after my tertiary school days.
When most of my peers decided to go to usual places like USA I decided to take Israel because I had noticed that it was a great place and I did most of my voluntary work there.
It’s a great place and there was never any instability where I lived. I learnt a lot as an aspiring entrepreneur then.
Q. You keep on stressing that you are an entrepreneur. What business are you involved in?
I run two entities, one called O3 beverage and Prophalt Botswana.
O3 deals with bottling water for you. My partners are Terence Mulwa and Imraan Arbi.
We recently set up Prophalt a company which deals with maintaining potholes.
We have over thirty Batswana employed under our wing.
The beverage market is very tough but like I said we work hard and deliver the best for the nation.
Q. What’s so special about bottled water?
Like I said, I bottle best water when compared to other bottled water. People who drink O3 can testify to that.
We use best equipments in purifying the water from the tap.
It’s so sad that our city if facing challenges in water but we have already placed better plans in place to cushion ourselves should the situation worsen.
You said your other company, Prophalt deals with maintaining potholes. Does that mean we have cheap roads?
It’s not that we have cheap roads, I think it’s because of our environment and the fact that we are a desert so when it rains there are very high chances of roads being washed away.
We used special technology to fix potholes and I guarantee you that all roads we have fixed have withstood the harshest conditions and have remained intact.
My partners and I are willing to give out this technology we acquired from abroad to young people across the country.
We are not going to be greedy and keep it all to ourselves. If there is a young entrepreneur in Francistown for example, if given a chance we can always share with him or her so that he goes and implement in his area.
Q. All the roads are damaged. Aren’t you guys just milking the tax payer’s money? Why not propose to build lasting roads?
That’s one of our plans but like I said, we are still new and we have to build best reputation first and show people that we are not selling them a dummy.
We hope that after seeing the good work, the government will consider engaging us in building long lasting roads.
Q. What challenges are you faced with as a young entrepreneur?
All young people who are trying to make it as entrepreneurs always face a challenge of being approved.
There is always that doubt that young people cannot be trusted to run big companies.
We work hard to make our mark and we won’t just sit down.
Q. You have lost so much weight. How did you do it?
I must admit that I worked very hard in reducing my body after your paper made fun of me in your gossip column.
I was so touched and had to work extra hard in getting rid of the heavy body which proves that if you are determined to win something, you can always make it. What matters is focus.
Ever since then I made sure that I keep fit and eat healthy. I could see that the weight was going to hinder me in progressing with entrepreneurship career.
Q. Please take us into a day of an entrepreneur like you
I always have hectic days. I normally have meetings after meetings up until late.
I sometimes miss lunch and so I always have to ensure that when I leave my house in the morning I am packed with my breakfast which is an important meal of the day.
Q. Your last word big guy?
I would just urge young people out there to work very hard to get whatever they want.
I have and I am still working hard to fly higher in life.
My beverage company is already set up in Zimbabwe and we are working on crossing over into the Zambian market. Never give up because the sky is the only limit.
Enjoy your Easter Holidays and what’s up for this weekend?
Thank you Dan. I will be out in Francistown at a friend’s wedding and hope you and your readers will also be safe during these holidays.