Founders Spotlight: Thatayaone Dichaba (Founder, Ditec)

An interesting chat about all things Ditec with the founder, Thatayaone Dichaba

In your own words, tell us who Thatayaone Dichaba is

I am a visionary, I am creative, I am fearless, and I believe in changing the status quo.

Briefly take us through your journey to a career as a tech entrepreneur

After dabbling with software development and network installations, Dichaba would go on to find his footing when he launched Ditec Mobile in 2011. Several years were spent studying the industry, he will later go on to launch the company (and the nation’s) first mobile phone, Pioneer. The Pioneer did live to its name as it was sold at not only every other cellphone retail store in Botswana but was also sold in several countries within the region. Countries were so receptive to the Pioneer that Ditec went on to design and customise cellphones for various network operators within the region. Some of the major network operators we have worked with include Uganda’s Airtel, Mozambique’s Mcel; and Botswana’s BeMobile (now Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited-BTCL). My passion for technology and my love for Africa is what led to the establishment of Ditec Mobile, Botswana’s first local cellphone brand. We have since moved on to other devices, not just mobile phones.

What inspired you to pursue this career path?

What started off as a passion for assembling computers has now turned into a fully-fledged company that has sold its devices to various countries within the continent. The “Ditec story” is a testament that sometimes dreams take long before they are fulfilled but that if you are passionate and you persevere- your dreams will become your reality.  Our tagline is “Dream It” because our business is essentially a product of our founder’s dreams. Ditec’s vision is to bridge Africa’s communication gap by continuously innovating. Dichaba, which is directly translated to ‘nations’ in the Setswana dialect lived up to his name and he was able to lead his team into several markets including South Africa, Angola, and Mozambique. 

The local mobile phone market consumer market is currently dominated by international brands like Samsung, Apple, Huawei, etc. What is Ditec’s differentiating factor from the competition?

The components used in our phones are sourced from the world’s largest (and most trusted) components manufacturers. Our components are sourced where the world’s top mobile phone brands source for components. All Ditec mobile devices come pre-installed with our application store, DiApps. We are passionate about not only hardware but also providing our customers with quality content- it is against this background that DiApps was launched five years ago. DiApps allows African application developers to list their apps on our platform- this not only gives developers visibility but also gives our customers an opportunity to consume African content. Ditec offers one of the best after-sales support services in the country. We have a “wait while we repair” policy where customers can wait for a few minutes while we repair their device. Generally, in our industry it takes several weeks for customers devices to be repaired by an approved technician, most devices are repaired across the border.

You recently got into the retail side of business by opening your first store in Game City Mall. What was the motivation for that move?

We wanted our customers to have a touchpoint, a flagship store. We are on an extensive expansion drive that will lead to several Ditec stores, nationally and regionally. Ditec will open its second store in Botswana’s second capital city, Francistown, in November. Over the years, we have sold our devices through our distributors, over forty in total. We value the relationship we have with our distributors; our devices will continue to be sold through distributors as well. 

How receptive have Batswana been to Ditec devices?

We expanded our product offering this year. We launched a range of laptops; desktop computers and internet routers and the response had been overwhelming. Ditec has over the past months also been receiving enquiries (and business) locally and regionally.

What has been the proudest moment of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

The establishment of our electronics plant which is owned and managed by our sister company, Dichaba Consumer Electronics (DICE). DICE is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and manufacturers for various clients, including Ditec. It has been a dream of ours to not only be a local brand but to have our devices made locally.  

Participating and graduating from the prestigious Stanford University Seed Program, a one year program that transformed us as a company and gave us the tools we needed for our expansion drive.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers regarding any exciting products or ventures Ditec is launching in the near future?

Ditec is launching the Ditec XP:  a high-end sleek cellphone device. It has a 48MP quad-camera, long battery life, great storage and amazing security features. The phone will be available on the first week of November 2021. 

We are also launching our range of retro refrigerators in November. Still, in November, we will be launching our range of TVs. Details of these developments are shared on our social media pages.

You have been in business for quite a while and have faced numerous challenges. Citing your experience, what advice can you give to aspiring tech entrepreneurs?  

Persistence: be clear about your vision and pursue it with everything that you have. The entrepreneurial journey is not an easy one, it’s a one. 

NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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