Startups are developing innovative products to help consumers and businesses survive during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which is ravaging industries.
Being locked in a foreign country with borders closed urged a local Information and communications technology (ICT) expert, Natasha Leepo to reassess her professional journey and explore it to create a business.
“I was based in China reading for my PhD in Public Policy when the pandemic hit the world. I was stuck and could not come back home to Botswana and a month passed without doing anything,” Leepo explained. “I realised that I could use my experience having worked for Huawei Technologies Botswana, managing teams of experts that are male-dominated.”
Trading as Bonema Technology Botswana, the company is a 100% black-owned utilities, technologies, asset and performance monitoring company, offering tailor-made solutions to suit individual clients. The services offered by the company include asset tracking, access control, fleet management, medical supplies and livestock tracking.
Bonema’s devices and systems monitor assets performance using the latest satellite technology, analytics and management software, which are simplified to communicate to clients on the Internet and SMS platforms.
Leepo said they are currently promoting livestock tracking as they track cattle and even small stock using a special tracking device that is inserted on an animal’s neck or where the farmer prefers.
“I decided to tap into the livestock tracking industry after I realised that cattle populations locally have been declining due to stock theft,” she said.
Currently, the company faces stiff competition from the local ICT market giants such as Medical Rescue Botswana, Omni Africa, Nashua, ICT Solutions, amongst others. However, the company gets a piece of the cake through Leepo’s strategic approach and takes pride in providing the best service.
“I am one of those women who want to change the mindset that the ICT industry is a male-led industry, giving women less hope for the future in ICT. Most women lack expertise and adequate motivation to venture into ICT businesses,” she said.
Leepo added that penetrating the market was easy as she targeted individuals unlike her competitors and she channelled all her efforts in establishing a reputable brand. Bonema’s clientele ranges from farmers, pharmaceuticals, private and parastatals and the government. Touching on prospects, Leepo told BusinessMonitor of her plans of becoming a global icon in the ICT industry and also playing a significant role in changing the mindset of women across the globe from being intimidated by their male counterparts.
She said being a woman in the ICT field has partially affected her business, as some tend to judge her based on her femininity.
“Sometimes even when I deserve a project with the right expertise and documentation, with the right products, people will turn to judge my capabilities in the industry because I am a woman,” she said.
“I have been under-utilised and people see me as lacking something in this industry. I have made synergies through joint ventures across borders and the support for my business is just too much. I have a resource pool that makes any project possible to execute.”
She further encouraged other women to embark on a tech career, break the barrier, and inspire the girl-child and future generations to come on board.