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Mother Masire is a graduate of The University of Botswana, with a BA in Social Sciences, majoring in Sociology and Public Administration.

She also did a number of developmental courses including brand and project management to support her marketing and advertising career.

As one who is always willing to learn when interested in a subject matter she studied mindfulness over 10 years through online courses, attending seminars, workshops, training retreats etc. 

Her interest in mindfulness and its benefits grew over the years, so when Dr. Didi Bjorn approached her with the idea to start a sustainable development social enterprise, she jumped at the opportunity, and AfroBotho was born.

AfroBotho is a skill-sharing service that fosters mental health and wellness for individuals, organizations, and communities in Africa and the world.

Connect with Mother Masire and her business on her website and social media

We believe if we are at our best emotionally and mentally we do the best for ourselves and families, workplace, communities, and our world.

Why did you decide that there was a need for an organization like AfroBotho? 

The name AfroBotho was inspired by the African concept of Botho, a social contract of mutual respect, responsibility and accountability that members of society have towards each other.

It defines a process for earning respect by first giving it, and to gain empowerment by empowering others. It is all about interconnectedness amongst all people with the realization that ‘I am because you are’.

AfroBotho was the brainchild of Dr. Didi Bjorn. She felt that we had an aligned passion for issues of mental and emotional wellbeing and that with the combination of our skills we would be able to add value to our clients’ wellbeing.

Dr. Didi Bjorn is a clinical psychologist with a specialization in Disaster Psychology from the University of South Dakota. It was there that she gained expertise in various disaster response and management techniques.

During her college years, Didi volunteered at the American Red Cross and later participated in the disaster response following the September 11 World Trade Centre attacks.

All those experiences prepared her for AfroBotho, where she seeks to extend all she learned by becoming a Botho Ambassador, healing and reconnecting humanity.

As an ambitious, young career-driven Motswana I lived a very busy, unbalanced life when I was employed in corporate environments.

Throughout my career I often found myself being the ‘default counselor’ for organizations I worked for. This was heavy for me because I was not a skilled psychologist, and got attached to what was shared with me.

I wished for a retreat center within our country that would provide a safe healing space for those seeking reprieve and time out to reconnect with themselves.

Dr. Didi Bjorn and I wanted to be the change we wished to see and started AfroBotho in order to share skills that empower people to find peace and harmonious interactions among each other.

What are the benefits of mindfulness, and how is it beneficial in the workplace?

Mindfulness is ‘present-focused consciousness’, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and the environment without judgment.

It’s a state of awareness. Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as: “Paying attention; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. 

There are many overlaps between mindfulness and aspects of positive psychology as it applies to cognitive-behavioral therapies.

In some of our training, we call ourselves ‘the why and how team’. Dr. Bjorn usually shares WHY people go through the emotions and mental challenges they experience and I share HOW they can access their personal grounding and calmness while they are going through them.

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and conflict, increase resilience and emotional intelligence while improving communication in the workplace.

For leaders who are contemplating different strategies to help foster a healthier, happier and more productive workplace, I suggest that they incorporate mindfulness in their organizational culture.

Some of the numerous benefits of mindfulness include; a more effective management style, creating a more positive work environment, stronger, healthier team dynamics, better manager-employee relationships, fewer rash decisions that can damage the business, and healthier strategies for preventing or addressing conflict when it comes up.

According to a study conducted by The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, more than half of the 550 million working days lost every year from absenteeism are stress-related.

Further, 80 percent of employees report that they feel stress at work and need help learning how to manage it.

What do your workshops/sessions entail?

The way we work with our clients is not etched in stone. We are solution-based in our approach and always strive to get to the root cause of a problem before we even design a program.

Each client program is personally designed for them. We believe you cannot prescribe without first identifying the challenge/issue.

We have a program called ‘The pulse check’ which we usually start with before beginning any program. This is an exercise that helps individuals to look at their challenge from the inside out.

The purpose thereof is to get a deep and clear understanding of our clients’ mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Once feelings and expressions of negativity have been clearly identified, we work together to actively begin the work of uprooting these often deeply embedded productivity killers.

As the termination of the vicious cycle of blame, attack, and accusations toward self and others, as well as the need to constantly live in defence-mode, occurs and is replaced by an all-round healthier and balanced sense of being, they can be – and are – empowered to channel that positivity into their professional life and workplace.

After the ‘pulse check,’ we start on a program that addresses the client’s desired objective.

What is the future of the workplace, and what role does AfroBotho play in realizing it?

The workplace environment as we know is evolving, just like every other aspect of our lives.

The rapid digital transformation is bringing about an equally rapid human transformation. As much as employees need employers for their survival, so too do employers need balanced employees for their business survival.

Moving forward, organizations will need to compete for talent by modifying their business practices. The future of work may dramatically change within the next decade – just in time for the arrival of Generation Z. This is where Mindful leadership is critical.

AfroBotho’s skill-sharing focus is on what is called soft skills, and we believe it is the most essential skill for anyone to thrive in a group, either within a family or work environment.

In general, soft skills encompass creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, creativity, critical thinking, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence and people management. These skills are so important to the future of work for employees, employers, and leaders.

In most jobs, technical skills alone are not enough to be truly effective. A salesperson with an unrivaled knowledge of their product and market will have little success if they don’t have the interpersonal skills needed to close deals and retain clients.

A business manager needs to be able to listen to employees, have good communication skills, and be able to think creatively to lead a successful team.

Strong soft skills ensure a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment. The modern market offers consumers an unlimited number of choices through various technologies.

For these consumers, convenience is easy to come by. Competition is global, so customer service is often what influences the choice to engage a particular business. The ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with customers is, therefore, a vital factor in an organization’s success.

Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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