This is a woman rooted in love. Love for her mother, work and for others. She is love. She is Malebogo Marumoagae.
We were first introduced to Malebogo as a beauty queen when she was crowned Miss Botswana in 2006. Today, she still wears that crown, now as the belle of Belle Larissa. A consultancy company she founded in 2009 and went on to win a Woman in Business Award for, under the category of Young Female Entrepreneur of The Year in 2016.
Belle Larissa slayed at the end of 2017 when it hosted what would become the inaugural International Women in Mining conference (IWiM).
Malebogo not only has a good business and a few awards to her name, she holds a degree in Economics and Population Studies, and an MBA from the University of Botswana.
I had a chat with her and this is her inspirational story.
Tell us about yourself.
I am Malebogo Marumoagae. I was born and bred in Tonota by one of the strongest women I know, Diteko Marumoagae. My mother has taught me how to be confident in my own skin, to respect others and myself and most importantly to know that I am nothing without God.
I believe in the law of attraction. That whatever you think, eventually becomes your reality. Even the Bible says in the book of Proverbs ‘above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”.
I love reading, in fact, I have learned so much from the books I read and I am always encouraging anyone who wants to be a leader to make reading a habit and not a hobby.
Tell us more about Belle Larissa.
Belle Larissa is a BQA registered and accredited institution providing training on personal branding, professional image, and etiquette.
Our main aim is to assist individuals, young and old to be the best that they can possibly be especially in today’s world where there is competition in almost every opportunity that arises. For organizations, we assist their employees to align their personal brands with their corporate brand.
How would you define etiquette? Are we a people that care for it, especially locally?
Etiquette is simply a set of rules that govern socially accepted behavior. It is about showing respect and making others feel comfortable and at ease when they are around you.
The word may be new to some, however, etiquette is not a new thing. In our Setswana culture, we call it Botho. It is behaving graciously in any given situation. It is not an issue of whether people care for it or not, Etiquette is a requirement for civilization.
I wish I could confidently say our services have gained the attention they deserve. We have done our bit, but I still believe there is still much to be done.
Winning the Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year, how significant was that moment for you?
That was a very surreal moment. I felt really proud of my team and I. As you may know, our business is relatively new in Botswana so to have that recognition was a great confidence booster.
However, we also understand that it means we need to keep working hard to ensure that we stay on top of our game.
In 2017, Belle Larissa hosted the first ever International Women in Mining (IWiN) Conference in Botswana. What inspired the initiative?
Yes, together with Brandneue Media, we hosted the first-ever Women in Mining Conference in Botswana in 2017. This initiative was inspired by the need to promote greater participation of women in the mining industry.
The numbers show that the mining industry is one of the most male-dominated industries in the world and Botswana is no exception. We wanted to play our part by bringing together women, who are already in the mining industry, those with aspirations of getting in the industry, policymakers, and financial institutions under one roof, to discuss the challenges as well as come up with solutions to increase the participation of women in this industry.
What does it mean for you as an African woman being in business?
African women have from time been in business to feed, educate and take care of their children. It means so much to me that I am part of a group of phenomenal women who have either by choice or default found themselves in business.
Being a woman and in business has never been an easy thing. I hope I am able to inspire other upcoming business women to follow their dreams the same way I have been inspired by hard-working, women who came before me.
How do you suppose one can recognize themselves as an empowered woman?
For me, an empowered woman is one who has a choice to be whatever she wants to be. She knows her worth, is confident in her own skin and is not intimidated by the success of other women.
An empowered woman stands for herself, speaks for herself and is the voice to the voiceless. As she goes up, she pulls others with her.
What three principles would you say drives your business?
Our business is driven by the love to see other people excel and become the best versions of themselves. We believe in team-work as everyone has their own unique abilities which can contribute towards ensuring that our clients get quality service.
What advice would you give to young women who want to be their own boss?
For me, it is not about being your own boss, it is about finding a solution to a problem or problems facing our society and then putting together a team that shares your vision and working together towards achieving that vision.
For anyone who wants to take that path, I would say, it is not an easy road to take but if you want it so bad, you need to put in the effort, develop yourself, read extensively and have a never-give-up attitude.