Interview: Tebogo Ditshego – How to Build a Successful Business in Africa

Name: Tebogo Ditshego

Name Of Company: Ditshego Media

Country: South Africa

Tebogo Ditshego is the Founder and CEO of Ditshego Media, which is an internationally renowned PR Agency.

It’s hard to not be impressed and drawn in by Tebogo’s personality. He exudes courage and intelligence, which is no surprise, and explains how he managed to revive an almost dead company and give it a new lease of life to become a global brand that is widely recognised.

Tebogo Ditshego – How to Build a Successful Business in AfricaIt’s one thing owning and running a company, but it takes something special to have the ability to position it to become respected across the globe. Tebogo embodies the spirit, determination and resourcefulness of modern day African entrepreneurs. A mind-set and belief that it is ok to fail, but you must learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward to achieve your goals.

This attitude earned Tebogo a place in Forbes Magazine’s list of ‘30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa 2014’. In 2012 he founded an on-line book club called ReadaBookSA, which has gone on to become the biggest on-line book club in Africa. The Mail & Guardian Newspaper acknowledged this achievement, and included him in their list of the top ‘200 Young South Africans 2014’.

He was very influential in the promotion campaign of the Mandela banknotes in South Africa, and was also part of the 2014 inaugural participants in the Washington Mandela Fellowship program launched by US President, Barack Obama.

Is there no end to his talent?

In this exclusive interview, we catch up with Tobego to explore his extensive list of accomplishments, and his journey to success.

Tebogo Ditshego – How to Build a Successful Business in Africa

Prince: You failed and decided to start all over, what motivated you to not give up?

TEBOGO: I have two mantras, which explain my thinking when I fail

  • “My goals motivate me more than my challenges discourage me”
  • “My long term goals encourage me to look beyond my short-term challenges”

It’s important to see beyond one’s challenges. The question isn’t “will I fail?” but it is “how should I respond when I fail”

Prince: What was the difference between the first time you started your venture and now?

TEBOGO: The major difference is that I now understand the difference between marketing and selling. Selling is developing tactics to get your customer to buy your product. Marketing is about finding ways to satisfy your customer’s needs. I learned how to find out what your customer’s needs were.

Prince: What was your accomplishment in your previous job that gave you the belief in creating success out of Ditshego Media?

TEBOGO: Essentially I began developing marketing/public relation strategies from beginning to end. I was even getting business in and I was shining at the companies I worked for.

Prince: What valuable lessons has your transition taught you?

TEBOGO: That there’s a difference between being able to do a job as a professional and being an entrepreneur. Actually, these two are miles apart. Even though being able to do a job helps, there are so many more elements, which go into actually building and running and organisation.

Prince: What’s the toughest challenge so far?

TEBOGO: The toughest challenge is managing your cash flow. As an entrepreneur, you need to try to always have cash reserves because you may strike a deal which requires reserves and you can miss out on many opportunities if your finances are not in tact.

Prince: How do you cope with criticism?

TEBOGO: Hahahaha! Firstly I think constructive criticism is essential for human development. I embrace constructive criticism because it can help me take my craft to the next level. I think criticism, which is designed to bring you down (which some refer to as hating) is good and bad. It’s good because haters don’t park at stationary cars, it shows that you’re making progress and people are getting uncomfortable. It’s bad when your character is being attacked, but I’m trained to deal with such.

Prince: What is the greatest mistake you’ve committed in your current position and how has it contributed to building your mental capabilities as a leader?

TEBOGO: The greatest mistake was a few appointments I made. I think I’ve improved on this because I’ve now designed creative techniques to conduct interviews. One example is that I invite interviewees to a game of chess so that I can evaluate how they think, how they strategise and how they respond to different situations. If they can’t play chess then I’ll give them a scenario to resolve.

Prince: What lessons have working with your team taught you so far?

TEBOGO: I’ve grown as a leader because it is one thing to steer a ship and another to allow another Helmsman to steer the ship under your guidance.

Prince: Tell us about your best worker?

TEBOGO: I don’t just have one best worker. In fact, I have two. One is Suzanne Semenye who heads up our Kenya office. I met her in the US and she is terrific. She has a great vision and knows how to execute. My second outstanding employee is Katlego Ndaba. We trained her and she catches on quickly. She has a lot of potential in the Public Relations business.

Prince: You founded “ReadaBookSA”, which book would you recommend for a young PR practitioner.

TEBOGO: I’d recommend two books. The first one is “The Marketing Imagination” by Theodore Levitt and “From Business Cards to Business Relationships” by Allison Graham

Prince: Which African Entrepreneurs Inspires you?

TEBOGO: South African entrepreneur Richard Maponya who was the first person to approve a business proposal, which I had. Patrick Awua from Ghana who left Microsoft to build a University to educate young Africans and Sam Motsuenyane the Founding Chairman of Africa Bank.

Prince: It’s my personal dream to run a PR company, what top 5 pieces of advice would you give me, and other aspiring African entrepreneurs?


Here are my top 5 Tips on How to Build a Successful Business in Africa – 

1. There’s never a right time to start a business so just get it started.

2. Save up so that you can be ready to deal with the difficulty of breaking through the market

3. Build mutually beneficial business relationships on an on-going basis

4. Partner with the right people, but don’t give away shares in your company easily

5. When you get opportunities make sure you don’t just satisfy your customer but blow them away with awesome customer service.

Prince: What other types of business would you love to start?

TEBOGO: I have already started Ditshego Investment Group, which is a private equity firm that will invest in start-ups with high growth potential as well as in established companies and major projects in various industries

Prince: Which industries, and lucrative business areas do you think will provide future business opportunities for African entrepreneurs?

TEBOGO: I think there’s a lot of room for innovation in the banking and telecommunications industries, which hasn’t yet been realised and will be a major driver of growth over the next 15 years. Also other sectors, which are usually overlooked, are the energy sector and waste management, which could provide lucrative business opportunities for African entrepreneurs.

If you want to know more about what Tebogo is up to CONNECT

Twitter: @TebogoDitshego
Linkedin: Tebogo Ditshego

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We would love to hear from you.

By | 2015-05-21T22:13:11+00:00 April 6th, 2015|Interviews, Startups|0 Comments

About the Author:

Passionate about making a difference through determination and hard work in order to leave an eternal Legacy for Africa. Renowned as a change maker, youth leader, blogger, volunteer, online publisher, documentary producer and a social media entrepreneur.

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