The garage-to-riches story has been a motivation for many aspiring entrepreneurs. The exceptional story of some of the multi-billion dollar companies has been a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. Many of the world’s leading multinational companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Disney are said to have started humbly in a garage. But for the then 17 year old Knight Ganje, without a roof over his head, that garage itself was just a dream.
“I remember when I first came to Botswana,” Ganje recalls, “I had nowhere to sleep, we were sleeping in a tuck-shop without electricity or water.” But the young Zimbabwean born lad’s determination to succeed would not let him sit down and drown in despair. “That did not stop us from pursuing our dream as we started approaching companies to pitch our dream.”
Ganje was born and raised in Harare and moved to Botswana at the tender age of 17, seeking an opportunity to make something of himself. Having always had a passion for advertising, Ganje says he was hungry for the opportunity to set up an agency. In 2009, H&G Advertising was born, with Shoprite as its first client.
“Shoprite wanted to advertise their products on television and radio,” he says, “So we approached both Botswana Television and some local radio stations and managed to reach an agreement. We didn’t even have an email address and when the client wanted it, we told them that we had a problem with the internet and instead used a memory stick.”
Now, eight years later, Ganje is the Managing Director of local agency H&G Advertising. The tuck-shop is a distant memory now. And the world is finally taking note of the tuck-shop boy. He was recently listed on the Forbes Africa 30UNDER30 2017. According to the author of the list, Ancillar Mangena, “the list celebrates young Africans who are working hard to turn the continent’s fortunes around”. She refers to all the listed entrepreneurs as “the billionaires of tomorrow”.
This year’s list was published in the June Edition of Forbes Africa Magazine, and 53% of the listed entrepreneurs are Southern African. RiseAfricaRise.com has described this list as one of the most prestigious an entrepreneur could be listed on. When asked what criteria determined selection of the 30, Mangena cited business size, location, potential, struggles and determination, as some of the factors considered by the specialized panel of judges.
Today, H&G Advertising provides services in 13 countries across the continent, offering services in media strategy and placement, brand activations, creative and digital marketing. Having just returned from Hong Kong with the aim of expanding his business interests, Ganje says he is not about to rest on laurels. “When I look at Africa and the world I see no boundaries,” he says, “I see endless opportunities.”
Rather than seek an affiliation with global agencies like some local agencies, Ganje says he refuses to give up the agency’s autonomy, growing it into an independent pan-African agency. “We have put understanding the context of various African markets at the core of our operations,” he says, adding “It has enabled us to service multinational brands in a way that suits their regional approach to business.” He sees the recognition by Forbes Africa as an opportunity to further the reach of his company.