The delivery of parcels is now very convenient, thanks to the invention of the drone. Good can now be dropped at once yard and at any organized place from this little flying machine.
Our reporter, Thoboloko Ntšonyane is in conversation with Baholo Chimombe, who is the founder and the Chief Executive Officer of the Baholo Aviation Services (BAS).
BAS was recently one of the contests of the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) competition battling for an M1 million prize sponsored by the Vodacom Lesotho. BAS scooped M50 000.00 prize under the early stage category in December last year, paving the way to compete in Singapore at the end of February where they will contest for a staggering US$1 million over M17 million.
Energized and enthusiastic Chimombe said he is ready to pitch to the international crowd adding that “more [important] is to learn and fine-tune anything else that may need improvement”.
Below is the excerpt from the interview.
How does it operate?
We have 5 members of staff and in our staff, we have Drone Pilots (2) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder, Business Developer, and Chief Technical Officer.
What societal challenges does it aim to address?
Since the company is a tech company, we are going to be mitigating the gap between conventional methods of logistics by bringing technology and limiting the time spent delivering goods and services to Basotho. Especially in remote and rural areas where there are no roads or delivery posts. In essence, we aim at being the most efficient and effective in Lesotho.
When and what inspired your love to venture into a tech company? What is by coincidence or you have always loved to?
I always like being a leader and champion in any entity or business I am involved in. I am always driven by how others are able to be bold and go into untapped industries and making it into something that can be a world changer or a disrupter to the current field. I am inspired by the many Entrepreneurs who showcase their businesses on Dragons Den, Shark tank, Recent Entrepreneurship World Cup hosted by BAM and Business Doctors. It’s all business ideas and I look at a business and engage the best in the industry to get ahead and I look at the potential and opportunities to change Lesotho. I have such a great passion for this country and Africa as a whole because opportunities are plenty. We just need to stop complaining and do the work. I have always loved business and how tech works is where the world is going and has been going.
What other services do you offer?
There are many tiers in the drone space, e.g advertising, surveillance, monitoring, security, data capturing, photography, film production. To name but a few.
Since inception of your business how has the response been? Any expansion plans perhaps in the pipeline?
Expansion is definitely the name of the game, we are currently in Kenya and Malawi on the same project. Our goal is to be in at least 10 African Countries within the next five years. The challenges in Kenya are different from Malawi for example. Malawi is predominantly Lake and the solution is different to say Lesotho which is mountainous.
Response has been positive but obviously like anything new, people tend to be sceptical. I won’t name a the person, but someone wanted us to work for free and deliver Covid vaccine for free because they had already procured vehicles to deliver. Then obviously, people who over promise only to not be transparent about the organisations true intentions. Lessons learned are to remain focused and not let minor speed bumps derail you
Please talk to resilience! How important it is in business?
When you don’t feel like cold calling or going to knock on a customers door, that’s when you are likely to get an opportunity to present yourself. That CEO or Manager you so desperately want to meet and you are being “blocked” or not being given the opportunity, when you least expect to see/‘meet them. You might bump into him/her in a parking lot, corridor you should always be on your “A“ game. Make your story short and don’t feel bad for high jacking them. Be able to get your pitch or business to them within 2 minutes. Practice your approach like you might be called any minute.
What is your appeal to incoming government? How would you like it to address concerns (and which are some of those) for SMMEs & SMEs?
Working with young Basotho. We are a nation with very talented youth. We like and appreciate nice things and generally educated. EWC boot camp, our Moderators, GEN Lesotho were so dedicated and to think they themselves never had the same opportunities that we have today. They keep giving back and it can only be inspiring to us Entrepreneurs. Winning my category at EWC is certainly a highlight of mine and the reception my company received was and is enormous
Which areas can those drone suitably operate at?
For example, I was walking in the bus stop yesterday and you see young and old hustling and a lot of umbrellas of makeshift stores, Vodacom umbrellas by the way. It’s good to see private sector helping them out but Government needs to do more. They need to bring in proper structures, what happens on rainy days grandmothers suffer from
All ailments but they have to be at work. Clean up the bus stop area. It would be interesting what stats are in relation to the amount of money that circulates daily in the bus stop area. It’s a lot of money but not documented. It’s informal and it would inspire budding entrepreneurs how they can start small. Bring in incubations where we assess if the business is working and then elevate them to shopping centres. You can’t be in one place for 5 years. The incoming government is full of business people from the PM self-made business people
Any future plans?
To be the biggest Drone logistics operator in Africa.