It was in 2020 when Gumare native Ditebogo Boikhutso got a call that changed his life forever. Finally, his dreams were coming true as the Okavango District Council gave him an offer he couldn’t resist. He was to partner with three other leather product producers from his district to form a company that manufactures leather products.
“We were all coming from different villages within the Okavango district. The council officials saw our potential through competitions that we participated in. They believed in our craft and suggested we join forces, form a company and produce in large quantities. Through their assistance we managed to be incubated at the Local Enterprise Authorities centre in Gaborone,” he said.
Through their company, they produce leather shoes, both formal and casual, sandals, bags, wallets and belts.
“We design and create almost everything, clients can come with their design and we will produce according to their needs,” he said.
According to Boikhutso, they are still trying to get a grip on the market as Okavango District Council is the only largest client pool they currently have. They also sell to individuals as their products are sold largely by word of mouth, from one customer to the next whenever they can find clients.
They have also approached a few retailers who promised to assist them but are still awaiting the decision from their head offices that are outside the country. They have also approached some schools for possible partnerships.
“We really need some polishing when it comes to marketing, training will definitely do as we want to run this business professionally. As much as our products are good, we will need a good marketing strategy to take them to the people,” he said.
He further said getting materials outside the country has been their biggest challenge as it is expensive, they have to pay for transport, and border charges and it is time-consuming.
“Sometimes our production stops as we have to wait for materials from our suppliers. Our customers’ orders will then get delayed, which is not good for business. We even get shoelaces outside the country,” he said.
Touching on their future, his vision is for them to manufacture world-class leather products through superior designs and quality materials. They also have plans of buying more advanced machinery and increasing their staff complement as they increase production. Upon leaving the incubation, they want to open a shop in Maun that would specialize in selling their products.