Following the realisation of a large gap in the online marketing and selling of locally produced products, founder of BWMade, Tech Entrepreneur and pioneer, Itumeleng Garebatshabe decided to create and launch a platform to help local creative entrepreneurs spread their reach.
Botswana Made (BWMade) is an online application store that retails 100% Botswana made products from the creative industry.
Covering music, film, fashion, crafts, and now books, BWMade is providing a solution to the revenue challenges of Batswana creatives, giving them a platform to reach both the local and international consumer – taking BW to the rest of the world. “There was a poor footprint of revenue generation for Batswana and Botswana based creatives and so we decided to start off with launching the BW Made book store to promote local authors”, said Garebatshabe.
“We have three key goals with this application, namely, helping creatives; 1. Make money; 2. Keep creating knowing there is a place where they can reach out to consumers; and 3. Reach a global audience,” the pioneer added. Garebatshabe said the E-Book store was also in response to the demand for a central selling place for Botswana books at the click of a download.
“Local authors have been struggling to push book sales outside of the school market, and this was made harder with the COVID-19 restrictions, which is preventing authors from marketing and selling their books at the malls and other public places like they used to,” he continued. According to the founder of the BWMade Book store, beyond authors being able to reach a wider audience, the application also provides an opportunity for content aggregation, enabling the company to compile data to determine number of sales and a best sellers list with
Initially launched in 2015, the landscape at the time was not ready for the online bookstore.
What the founders of BW Made books found was that not many people understood online sales and a full scale educational campaign had to lead before buy-in of the application could take place. “We spent the bulk of our budget educating the creatives about online retailing; communicating with them through T.V., radio, print and social media,” he added.
One might be inclined to say that the COVID-19 pandemic became a cursed blessing for the founders of the store as it made people realise the benefits of online retail space with urgency.
In terms of expectations from the launch and future outlook, Garebatshabe stated that so far, international reviews have been promising and have created a bigger demand for Botswana local content, further prompting them to work on re-launching the BWMade music streaming application to promote not only local books, but also local music to the global market.
“By the end of October we will launch the music streaming application and after that, we will make an expansion into Africa,” Garebatshabe said.