Founders Spotlight:Mphule Dipao (Co-Founder,Artify Botswana)

Mphule is the co-founder of Artify Botswana, a digital platform that seeks to help local artists avail their artworks online through a centralized platform specifically for artists. The startup has so far made it into the latter stages of grant competitions like the CEDA University Challenge and the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program. In this interview, she talks about what inspired the formation of Artify Botswana, the challenges they have faced in scaling up, how they are approaching those challenges and so much more!

In your own words, tell us who Mphule Dipao is

Mphule Dipao is a young Motswana from the Taupye village. I'm interested in tech entrepreneurship because it allows tech entrepreneurs to help others by delivering digital solutions to end-users, connecting people to online resources, making their lives easier, and creating jobs. I have a Bachelor of Science in Computing with Finance.

Briefly take us through your journey to a career in tech

My path to a profession in technology began when I enrolled in the University of Botswana's Computing with Finance degree. I wasn't particularly knowledgeable about the computer science field at the time, so I presumed I'd study computerized finance. I grew to respect it and fell in love with the tech business during the course of the program. I currently work as a UI/UX designer, where I make it simple for users to interact with software products.

What motivated you to pursue this career path?

I began to examine opportunities and challenges that may be handled by technology as I grew to respect the tech industry and my entrepreneurial ambition, and it was a process that I enjoyed. It astounded me how much digital transformation has and continues to have an impact on businesses and people's lives, and I want to be a part of that.

Women representation in senior and decision-making positions in tech is still unfortunately low in Botswana. As a woman in a tech senior position, what has been your experience?

Unfortunately, that is correct; even when I was in university, the majority of tech-related courses students were males with fewer females; I believe this is due to the fact that at a younger age, females are less knowledgeable about the computer science field, so by the time they get to university, only a few of them are interested and in it, while others figure it out when they are in other fields. Because there are fewer women in the tech field from the beginning, and even when you get to senior positions, there is just a handful of them.

Another issue is the stereotype that women in technology/science should look a specific way, and when you don't look the way people expect, they begin to underestimate you based on your appearance.

If there have been challenges as a result of this representation gap, how have you managed to surmount them?

I've been practicing patience and continue to do so; I'm taking advantage of opportunities to better myself and my job, and I've learned not to give up easily or lose patience. Sometimes we give up easily on things that require time to grow or improve, believing that we have failed when all we needed was a little more time.

What do you think can be done to reduce this lack of representation?

I believe that young girls should be taught about the computer business and job prospects accessible in the tech industry at a younger age so that they can appreciate and comprehend it when they choose career routes.

Please tell us more about your startup, Artify Botswana?

Artify Proprietary Limited is a 100% citizen-owned company that operates an eCommerce platform called Artify Botswana, which I founded with Kao Tsheko and Nonofo Thamage. It can be accessed at Artify Botswana is Botswana’s first online art marketplace where visual artists can advertise and sell their artworks to anyone, anywhere in the world.  For distinguished branding purposes, Artify’s niche market is visual artists. These include; photography (varying categories), painting, sculpture & carvings, ceramics & pottery, beadwork, drawings and illustration, and Digital Arts

For an affordable yearly fee, artists are provided with online art stores to upload images of their artworks. Our expert marketing team then generates traffic to the web app and attracts potential buyers. Artify assists sellers with; marketing & advertising their products, it helps facilitate transaction payments and gives the artists or sellers the freedom to dictate product offering and pricing. Art buyers/ collectors use the online art marketplace to explore a variety of artworks, buy the ones they want, and wait for delivery.  All Artify Botswana users will be able to access the service whenever and wherever they choose as long as they have internet access. We also intend to employ agents across the country to help artists who are less tech-savvy or in rural communities where internet connectivity is still low to help create and manage their online stores. 

We want Artify Botswana to be the one-stop place where you can discover, buy and sell art. If artists want to be discovered online and to advertise themselves, Artify is the best option. To use the Artify platform follows a simple registration process. The interested seller creates an Artify artist account at for registration. After registration completion, the account details of the artist will appear and a virtual shop will be created on their behalf. Once the virtual shop is up, buyers can upload their artwork. On the buyers’ spectrum, they can virtually view the artworks, leave a review or comment, and even send a private message to the artists. Whenever, buyers like a certain artwork, they may purchase it with ease, all in one digital platform

What was the motivation for starting Artify Botswana?

We noticed that there are talented artists in Botswana especially in remote areas who create artworks but struggle to sell them because they cannot enter the market owing to a lack of marketing skills. Other artists noted the issue of displaying few artworks at exhibitions due to limited space and time, as well as the fact that not all artists can attend those exhibitions. Art collectors also expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of a centralized online location where they could see various artworks at any time. So we came up with the idea of Artify Botswana, but before we could develop the digital platform, the CEDA/DBSA University challenge was my first stop, where I tried and tested the concept. I made it to the top ten finalists, and I've never looked back since.

What challenges have you faced in executing the business mandates of Artify Botswana?

Our greatest issue thus far has been a lack of funding to do extensive marketing in order to encourage artists to purchase online stores and art buyers to purchase artworks. We have a few artists registered with us, but due to a lack of finances for advertising and promotion, it has been difficult to attract purchasers to our site.

How have you been trying to overcome those challenges?

We've approached investors and entered competitions where the prize is money or the opportunity to speak to investors because our problem is financial. So far, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has been successful, and we are expecting funding to meet our bills and do advertising. We are now competing in the Total Energies competition for startupper of the year and would appreciate it if you could vote for us here:  this phase runs until the 4th of February.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers regarding what Artify Botswana is up to, project-wise, currently, and in the near future?

We are more than just an online marketplace. We also provide art consultancy where art buyers want customized artworks and we refer them to a few artists from whom they can choose. Art therapy sessions and art masterclasses are also on the way, hosted by artists who have created stores on our platform to gain exposure and give back to the community. We intend to hold virtual reality exhibitions in the future, where art buyers can take online tours to view the artworks.

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

I'd like to express how proud I am of myself and my team for how far we've come since the inception of Artify Botswana; we built the web app in the midst of the pandemic while under lockdown, and we did it all on our own. Artify Botswana, as an idea, made it to the top ten of the CEDA/DBSA University Challenge, the top four of the SAIS Boostup Challenge, and I became a Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Alumni through Artify Botswana. We've also been able to register more than 20 visual artists to open online stores with us.

What’s something you know now that you wish you knew earlier in your entrepreneurship journey?

I wish I had known that being an entrepreneur requires a lot of patience because it takes time before you can start earning or enjoying profit because the little that comes in when the business is new goes back into the business. It is also critical to network and gets to know other entrepreneurs in the industry or related industry in order to obtain opportunities that you may not have been able to obtain on your own.

If any, what is the best advice you have received in your journey?

Improving my public speaking skills so that I can defend and articulate myself and my ideas in any setting and at any time. In addition, to thoroughly research and comprehend the industry in which I work.

What advice can you give to young girls who are also interested in pursuing a career in tech entrepreneurship?

I would encourage young girls who are interested in technology to pursue their dreams. Technology is regarded as a man's domain. However, it is time to change the narrative. We are innovators and problem-solvers, and as such, it is time to put our skills in this sector of technology to work and create game-changing solutions that will benefit the world.

Lastly, please share with our readers your contact details in case they want to get in touch with you

My email address is, and I can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram as Mphule Dipao. Artify can be found at and on social media as Artify Botswana on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

You can contact us via email at or by phone at 74811720.

NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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