In line with the UN’s sustainable development goals, The Bulb World, came into being to provide eco-friendly lighting. Speaking to KOOBONYE RAMOKOPELWA, the youthful company’s CEO, Ketshephaone Jacob lays out their unrelenting ambition to power the country and the world with energy saving, LED lighting.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: As a bulb manufacturing business, what is the importance of sustainability?
KETSHEPHAONE JACOB: Firstly, let me start off by mentioning that sustain- ability is at the core of our business. We exist to manufacture and produce bulbs in an eco-friendly way that doesn’t cause harm to our environment, pre- serves future resources and is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals that our country has adopted. Just by virtue of producing LED lighting, this is already a sustainable move in different ways because of their low energy consumption, affordable pricing and the bigger saving that the end user gets by using less electricity.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: What are some of the major sustainability activities that the company has embarked on which are of importance to the communities you operate in?
JACOB: As a business, we try to be very deliberate about preserving our environment and practising sustainable business practices. This is evident through our waste management, water conservation and how we use environmentally-friendly materials to make our products. Both our office buildings in Selebi-Phikwe and Gaborone use our LED lighting and this is to save energy. In terms of community, we have an initiative called ‘Lesedi Ke Mpho’, and this is a nation- wide campaign where we provide LED lighting to replace fluorescents & in- candescent lights that use more energy and provide motivational support for students to equip them with education on the importance of saving energy and conserving our environment.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: What informs your decisions when investing in sustainability projects?
JACOB: Our two year plan is to work with schools for all our sustainability projects. We chose to work with schools because we are passionate about edu- cation and youth, 65 of whom we currently employ. The reason to work with schools is to support our youth from the grass roots level.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: What strategic partners has the company collaborated with during the execution of its sustain- ability projects?
JACOB: Since inception, we have always had a strong directory of strategic partners who have helped our busi- ness forge to where it is today. Through strategic partners like NWDC, our ex- pansion is underway and currently they are assisting us to finalise a distribution deal in South Africa, which will see us supplying our economically friendly and energy efficient products to SA and Namibia.
Through the ‘Lesedi Ke Mpho’ initia- tive, we got the pleasure to collaborate with FNB on retro fitting the Lobatse Secondary School facility to LED lighting and educating them on how LED lighting contributes to a more sustainable and energy efficient planet. Between our brand and theirs, we transformed ‘LOBSEC’ into a brighter school with better quality lighting, motivated them with stories of hope and educated them on the basics of LED lighting and financial literacy/ banking.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: As a new company in the bulb manufacturing and retailing business, how unique are your products offerings compared to competition?
JACOB: Before anything else, our bulbs are manufactured by Batswana youth, we produce quality, durable, eco- friendly and affordable lights.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: Investors often look at the company’s management team and financial performance before investing. How strong are you in the above aspects?
JACOB: Our Management Team com- prises of fully qualified team, which includes our Finance Manager, who is a fully qualified Chartered Accountant from BAC with a part- qualification in CFA, fully qualified engineer from BIUST as well as a team of learned and vibrant Sales, Marketing and PR graduates from University of Botswana. Since we began trading, our numbers have been growing steadily.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: Corporate governance is key to any company and would-be investor. As the Bulb World, what systems are in place to ensure proper corporate governance systems are adhered to?
JACOB: For the past 3 years, the business has been using the Management Team model combined with Policy Board to direct and manage the company while it grew. Following the company’s growth and expansion, we are now looking to appoint a board of directors to expand the company vision and help us achieve our long-term goals.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: Previously, The Bulb World announced its intention to access more capital from the private/ public financiers. How far are you in the above process?
JACOB: Following this announcement we got quite a positive response and an influx of enquires from different financiers across the country, who showed interest in wanting to finance us. We thereafter reviewed and submitted applications with the financiers who we thought were the best fit for our busi- ness model. The process is underway and without mentioning any names I can confirm we are at an advanced stage of the process.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: What specific challenges are you encountering as a business?
JACOB: We remain grateful to all our re- tail and corporate clients who have re- ally bought our bulbs. I can confidently go as far as saying, the brand is where it is today because of all the support we’ve been getting. Our biggest challenge is limited support and uptake from Government, as this has been really slow. Through Government’s support, we would be able to create employment for other Batswana because Government is the biggest buyer. We are in talks with Government and we have hope that more support will come out way as a local and youthful owned business which has created opportunities for many Batswana.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: What more options are available for the company as far as cash raising exercises are concerned?
JACOB: We are optimistic that we will be able to secure our funding from in- country, however, we have started talks with international investors in anticipation of things not going well locally.
BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: How sustainable is The Bulb World business model?
JACOB: Bulbs are a need and can be sold anywhere in the world. As manufacturers of LED lights, we believe the world is our oyster.