Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A local boy’s story of perseverance

Youth in Botswana are seemingly making use of the various opportunities the Botswana business industry has availed to them.

One such young man, Senay Gessese, has got entrepreneurial tendencies that have slowly bloomed over time.
At the age of 24, Gessese owns his own trucking business that he built from scratch, without asking for funding.
Without any formal training in that field, Gessese, a soon-to-be graduate of Electricity and Electronic Engineering at the University of Botswana (UB) claims to have fixed three non-running trucks that he bought at an auction by himself, over a period of two months.

“I had gone to the auction to buy a bus but when I got there somebody else had already bought it, so buying three trucks was a random act, but I took a risk; that is how I manage to stay afloat. The first one was P6 000. I later found out it had no engine. The second one was P16 000 with parts missing, and the third one was P27 000, complete save for a few problems. It took me two months to fix them because I had to save up capital to buy other parts and I was juggling my business with school,” said Gessese.

Gessese did not receive any funding from his parents or any form of loans. Ethiopian-born, he claims to have started off by saving his lunch money and even spared money from his transport fees when he was in High school. He would prefer walking or skipping lunch so that he could save the money.

“My father didn’t believe in giving me pocket money especially because he felt he was paying too much for me already, I mean he was paying for my tuition and trying to provide a descent life for the family, “said Gessese.

Senay which means peace in English went to Crescent school in Lobatse from standard 4 until he completed his form 5.He then did his form 6 at Legae academy. In 2005, he was accepted at UB to study his BSC degree in electrical and electronic engineering. It was when he was 15 years old that he started buying hi-fis at auctions with the money he saved. He would then sell the things to people at a higher price after fixing whatever was broken.

“For me, fixing has always come easy because I like to know how things work, it’s all about connecting wires and parts. It takes enough curiosity and determination. I didn’t need any formal training ÔÇô all I had to do was sit down and figure it out. At auctions, I wouldn’t buy things that couldn’t guarantee me a profit of 50% or more once fixed, “said Gessese.

He used the money he got from the fixed hi-fis to buy sound-mixing equipment that he rented out at half the price other people were renting for. His equipment was hired for weddings and other celebrations. He saved up enough to buy a video camera for extensive coverages.

After completing his form 6, he left the country for a year. When he came back he had lost his customer base and contacts because he had to move to Gaborone for school. He had to start from scratch; he used his savings to buy broken PCs from auctions.

“I would research about computer problems and eventually got the hang of it, after fixing the PCs I would sell them to people. It got to a point where even students who were doing their masters would bring their PCs for me to fix,” said Gessese.

He faced a major setback one day when the police allegedly raided his house and confiscated goods they claimed were stolen before he bought them. According to him, they ended up taking almost everything even the things that they didn’t suspect was stolen.

He sold the little that was left and bought a second hand car that wasn’t running with the intention of fixing it. He alleges that he managed to fix it within 4 months, the car a Mercedes 280SE s missing parts were expensive and he had to use up his savings. He also managed to buy a compressor, which he used to practise spray painting cars. People who couldn’t afford painting at major outlet would use his services.

He also bought a Mercedes 230ceAMG, 1979 model, also non running, which he managed to fix. Both cars were sold to a local, after an interested rich South African man couldn’t get his hands on them because SA no longer receives imported cars. He claims to have made a profit of 45 000 from both cars.
“After that, I was tired of scattered business, decided to try something stable and that’s when I settled on transport.

Gessese is now contemplating renting out his trucks or saving them for use when he starts his piggery business. He revealed that whatever he touches turns to gold, because he believes it can!

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Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.