HUNGRY FOR MORE SUCCESS
He took a big risk and left his good paying job at the country’s biggest company, Debswana to start his own company. Although the road was rough and bumpy in the beginning, to date Kabelo Binns is counted amongst young successful businessman in the country. His company, Hotwire Public Relations Consultancy has also become a brand to reckon with in the corporate sector. In this interview he talks about how the former MD of Debswana, Louis Nchindo influenced him to start his own company and also dispels the assumption that her mother’s position in society has anything to do with his success.
Q. Please tell us a bit about yourself and the businesses
I was born and raised in Serowe by my grandmother who was commonly known as Mma Ginger because of the ginger drink that she made and sold to support the family. I started running businesses soon after high school though they folded along the way. I founded my company, Hotwire Public Relations Consultancy in 2005, a company which I run with my wife. We also run and own Wired Y&R. I have interests in the tourism industry and have shares in Travel Wise Agency and Rennies. Media is also one of my interests and I have invested in The Mirror newspaper. On a different note I can mention that while I was working for Debswana I was the youngest manager in the whole De Beers group as I was the company’s Group Public Affairs Manager at the age of 30.
Q. And you left the big company and your lucrative position to start a business, why that risk?
Besides the fact that I had always wanted to run my own business it was because of a question that I was asked by the former MD of Debswana, the late Louis Nchindo while I was still working. He asked me what I will be doing in the next five to 10 years as I was never going to be the number one man in the company because of my qualifications. He then said I should do something that would make me the main man in an organisation and this simply meant starting my own company. I then bade farewell to Debswana in 2004.
Q. But why the line of business that you decided to follow, what inspired that?
It was a matter of turning my hobby into a business and using my qualifications in my own company. I have a degree in Journalism from Rhodes University in South Africa and I also studied Public Relations and Information Technology in the UK through the Debswana scholarship. But my love really is writing, a thing which I still do in my current position.
Q. How did you start the company and how hard was it?
It was hard, all the luxury that I had enjoyed while in Debswana was no more. I didn’t have enough capital, no money to pay rent for bigger office space and could not afford to hire any employee. I bought my first office desk in an auction, a desk which I still use for old time sake. The company has however grown and we now have 21 employees and it continues to grow. I am a happy man now, hard work has paid off.
Q. Your mother is Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi a politician, Member of Parliament and cabinet minister, has that worked to your advantage in anyway?
If there is one thing that I will never apologise for, it’s my family, I come from a family of achievers and my parents set high standards for me. All that I have achieved has nothing to do with who my parents are or who my mother is. It’s all about hard work. If anything it is playing to my disadvantage as I lose some jobs because some people responsible for awarding jobs do have that fear of being accused of favoritism despite my company’s capabilities. I must however say that some people out there don’t know that I am Pelonomi’s son as we use different surnames. I call my mother by her name because we have a somewhat brother-sister relationship and not a mother and son relationship.
Q. What is one thing that you learnt from your parents?
My mother taught me the importance of doing what I love and what fulfills me as an individual. This is also one thing that made me leave my job at Debswana despite the stability and the package, I needed to do something that made me happy at the end of the day. My mother had a successful company in Cape Town but she left all that to come back home to do what made her happy, serving the community. At first I didn’t understand why she took that route but I realised that she was a patriotic woman who loved her country and its people. My father Jonathan, Binns, taught me there can never be nothing to read, for him reading is so important that even now he makes sure I read. He would just call out of the blues and ask what is in the newspapers, If I haven’t read then I know I’m in big trouble.
Q. But how does it feel to read about your mother especially when she is being attacked from all ends?
That all comes with her job and I believe people don’t attack her as an individual but as part of the system. The country’s education system is not in a good shape at the moment so people have a right to air their views. However I wish they could mix criticism with suggestions of sound solutions instead of just bashing because that does not help.
Q. Back to you, what has been the highlight of your of business?
I don’t think I have experienced the highlight yet, there are so many things that I still want to achieve and I am positive that I am not far from that light.
Q. And the lowest?
It’s not an incident but the tradition in our country of late payment. We do good jobs but three months down the line we are still waiting for payment. This is a bad culture in Botswana and it is hindering the growth of small upcoming companies.
Q.What is your dream?
To see Botswana becoming a centre of media excellence in Africa. The country has all that it takes to achieve that and it just has to fulfill its role.
Q. Lastly what makes you tick?
My children. And the thought of how fond Pelonomi is of my last son. Whenever she is in Gaborone, she never misses a day to come home to bath, feed or even just watch him.
Full names: Kabelo Nicholas Binns
Date of birth: March 1974
Place of birth:Serowe
Marital status: Married with three children
Mentor(s): The late Louis Nchindo and his late grandmother
Car(s) driving: LandRover and Toyota Hilux
Holiday destination: Anywhere in the bush
Pastime: Spending time in the bush, reading and writing
Favourite food: Seswaa and morogo wa Setswana
Favourite drink: Ginger drink, specially prepared by either his mother or aunt
What makes you angry: Lazy and rude people