MAUN: Coming from a very remote and unique small village known for its ambience, intrigue and mystique, 35 year-old Ketetseeng Kakona learnt from his surroundings in order to use his background to his advantage.
Growing up helping his grandfather who used to guide clients to the Tsodilo Hills, Kakona developed a passion for the tourism industry.
“We used to help my grandfather carry his clients’ luggage when they came to see the Tsodilo Hills,” he recalls.
“I enjoyed every moment.”
After completing high school, Kakona got his first job at a museum, which then sent him to school to study archaeology and photography.
His passion for the industry was spotted by a safari company ‘Bush Ways’ who then took him to Maun to work for them and later helped him to study as a chef.
“I was good at what I did and many of my clients would ask me why I had not started my own business. It was only later that I partnered with another Motswana who was already established in the tour guide business,” he says.
Because he was still working full time, Kakona would send tour guide clients to his partner. He, however, did the necessary paperwork needed to run a mobile safari and also saved up so that he could eventually branch out on his own.
Three years ago, Kakona took the leap
Kakona’s company offers camping, game drives, boat cruises and tours of various sacred places. He takes his clients across Botswana to areas such as the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, Tsodilo Hills, Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans as well as to tourist towns such as Kasane, Victoria Falls and Livingstone. Kakona even takes clients as far as Tanzania.
According to the entrepreneur, the company’s success has been helped by an American contact that he met on one of the trips while still an employee. The contact played a huge role in marketing the company, creating a website and giving him exposure in the USA.
“It was amazing how a stranger can see the potential in you and promote your business,” he says.
This year has been difficult, as the drier Okavango Delta has forced Kakona to cut back on many activities. However, he is still dreaming big and plans to open his own lodge soon as he already has decks, tents and a plot.