Founders Spotlight: Bashanganyi Magwape (Co-Founder, Meeticks Africa)

Meeticks Africa is a startup offering two solutions; e-commerce over WhatsApp and surveys via WhatsApp, both offered by utilizing the WhatsApp Business API. In this interview, co-founder Bashanganyi takes us through his philosophy of creating products for the market rather than for the founders' own skillset, challenges met in scaling Meeticks, where he sees Meeticks in the next few years, Botswana's tech ecosystem and much more!

In your own words, tell us who Bashanganyi Magwape is

Bashanganyi is a big big dreamer, and a big believer. 

I am a believer in Africa, and the true wealth we possess, which is in our people, especially the youth. 

I am a believer of an Africa on top, and not beneath, in my lifetime. 

I am a believer in our innovation, ingenuity, and intelligence, and how it will unlock prosperity, solving many problems we experience today.

I also believe in family, love and this all stems from my belief in the unseen, that is the Original Innovator, i.e The Creator.

Please briefly take us through your journey to a career in tech entrepreneurship?

I love this question because every time I think about it, I feel whole and complete. I have great childhood memories dating far back as far as my mind can remember. My earliest memories are when I was playing around with dad’s computers in the early 90s back when floppy disks were actually floppy. I went through MS Doc and Macintosh, through every single Windows release from NT all the way to Windows 7, excluding Vista of course. My passion was kindled early.

My introduction to programming was in primary school, where we wrote commands to direct a turtle to create shapes and graphics. Skip to high school, all students studied ICT, but a few of us got to do Computer Science, and I learned Visual Basics, then came number. 1 in the Computer Olympiad. 

It all felt natural to me until I got to B.A.C to study Computer Science. Eish, academics were not for me. I spent my time in school practising “ethical” hacking, building side projects, and making beats. 

I discontinued after 2nd year and moved to Cape Town to study Sound Engineering, whereafter I navigated the creative multimedia world, and at that point, digital marketing was picking up, which was the perfect combination for my skillset. This led me back to web development, UX, UI, and the business side of things. 

After 10 years, I moved back to Botswana and started a digital consultancy, Basha Consulting, and then 2 years later, with my co-founder, we launched this startup, Meeticks. 

A joyous journey.

Please tell us more about your startup, Meeticks Africa

Meeticks is a combination of two words, Meetlo (culture in Sesotho), and Ticks (from chat conversations). It is the coming together of chat apps and our community cultures or customs - creating a new type of digital conversation for Africa, designed from scratch with us in mind.

On a technical level, we create WhatsApp Chatbots for the African market. WhatsApp is the most used app that people are already using. So we develop solutions that work around that, similar to what WeChat is doing in China.

Our primary product is e-commerce over WhatsApp, which we are going to be re-launching soon, after a trial run we conducted in 2021. 

Our other solution, Surveys over WhatsApp was initially created as a market research tool for our e-commerce app. It was extremely effective, removing the need for Google Forms, Survey Monkey and paper-based surveys, and we realised it could be a stand-alone product available to the market, which we subsequently released as a SaaS.

What was the motivation for starting Meeticks Africa?

I had been following the tech scene since a fairly young age, looking at successes such as Microsoft, Facebook and the Ubers of the West, as well as Alibaba, Tencent and the like in the East. Africa was silent, which was a major concern for me. I had to participate in this new multi-billion dollar economy, and get as many people around me to become aware of the opportunity. 

At a major tech conference, I connected with a company that was offering access to the WhatsApp Business API which I had been trying to get access to for a while. This was a game changer for me. 

What this simply meant was that we now had direct access to every single person using WhatsApp as a target customer. The benefits were that they would not need to download an additional app from app store. They could continue using their social data bundles, and the onboarding experience was seamless as they already knew how to use Whatsapp. Our job was now to develop a great product meeting their needs. So we chose e-commerce, a very difficult segment to succeed in, but one with high upside as well.

The driving force really, my cry, is that Botswana and Africa must participate in this digital economy and come out on top.

What challenges have you faced in scaling Meeticks Africa?

We are still on the scaling journey, we are pushing to expand to SADC within the next year or two. 

My biggest challenge has been the dev talent in Botswana. Good developers are employed by corporates, which we can’t compete with on a compensation level. Great developers want to build for themselves, which is understandable, but sad, partnering together we could go so much further. Then the rest of the developers are not hungry enough. All these are psychological challenges which must and will be overcome. We have so much potential.

Other than that, money. Money is an answer to many challenges, so if we had it, many problems would disappear. On the flip side, the blessing of not having a lot of capital is forcing you to think harder and smarter.

How have you been trying to overcome those challenges?

Developer-wise, we are working on it. Having conversations with the dev ecosystem and startup ecosystem. It’s much bigger than us. If you follow reports on African startups, you will see that Botswana is trailing the rest of the continent in investment deals into tech startups. We have brought in two disclosed deals worth $700,000 in the past 3 years, while Namibia brought in $23m, Zimbabwe $14m, Malawi $7m, and South Africa almost $2 billion! 

That must mean there is an inherent problem somewhere. I think it stems from a lack of collaboration, the me-me-me syndrome, and chilling in the comfort zone.

In terms of overcoming the money challenge, we looked outside. After getting a no from 2 government funding entities in my early years, I realized that they did not yet have a thorough understanding of what we were trying to do, so we approached international partners, and the response has been great so far.

Regarding scaling challenges, we are leveraging on partnerships with entities in the countries we are going into. 

I just realised now that the recurring solution in all our challenges is partnerships.

What are your goals for Meeticks Africa in the next 3-5 years?

Make many millionaires! We believe in productive participation in the economy by individuals and communities, and we hope to have unlocked all this latent opportunity that will see Africa reign. We want to co-create economic opportunities for millions of Africans, for all of Africa. So we should be in every African country within 3 years. There is a quote that lives rent-free in my brain that I heard from one of Botswana’s little-known innovators, Rapelang Rabana. In a great talk with Malcolm Gladwell and Will-I-Am, she talks about the sharing economy, and how we should make money with and for our customers. This is what it’s about. Think YouTube, Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon. The big companies help others make money and share the wealth. We want people across Africa to say, I am because of you. Like in our culture, we say “motho ke motho ka batho”.

Are there any projects that Meeticks Africa is launching in the near future that you would like to share with our readers?

Yes, in fact. We have recently launched our Surveys over the WhatsApp platform, enabling businesses, researchers, consultancies and agencies to create surveys and conduct market research at scale. We invite your readers to request a free trial

We have also launched DoDigi, an entrepreneurship program in partnership with Dream Factory Foundation, brought to you by Google Org. We are aiming to train, upskill and economically enable 3000 women entrepreneurs across Southern Africa in the next 3 years. More details can be found at

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

Unlocking opportunities for others. Be it customers, employees, service providers, strategic partners, or other stakeholders. I feel great joy knowing I am building for more than just my success, but our success. If I was to pick one moment, it would be when we handed a P10,000 prize check to an entrepreneur, meanwhile, I was not receiving a salary. We walk tall with smiles and swag in our step, meanwhile in our heads computations are flying trying to balance equations. 

But… I will be really proud when we can put Botswana on the map, to say that we have arrived, that’s my goal. And by putting on the map I mean when the world says wow, Botswana did that! 

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

Time - time is the most expensive commodity on earth. I thought I knew the value of time. But if I had the understanding that I have now 10 years ago, I would be in a totally different league. 

I resigned from employment in 2018 to go into full-time entrepreneurship armed with one retainer client and an amazing business plan with cash flow forecasts. I didn’t know then that paper and reality are very different.

So be jealous of your time and how you use it. It’s ideal to build your business while you have another job or side business sustaining you. I risked it all, and by God’s grace I survived, but it would have been better to thrive instead.

If you have the faith to leap, and to risk it all, sure; however, that faith must sustain you through the highs, the lows and even lower lows. 

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

“There is no poverty for the man who has invested in his mind and is willing to act. There is no poverty for the man who trains himself to think through every problem and renders a solution. Let men come to you for advice. Decide to be smart; decide to be a problem solver. If you make that decision that is what you will be. Problems solvers are in short supply in the world. There is room in the world for those who choose to be one.

Success is waiting for the man who says yes to success. Success is for the man who reaches out for it, who says I’ll wake up and wakes up, who says I’ll read this book and does. Success is for the one who makes a decision.”

Words from a sermon that I transcribed. I play it at least once a year.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, what advice can you give to people looking into founding a tech-centric startup in Botswana?

Number 1 - research research research. Get understanding. Understand what problem you are solving, first and foremost. Understand your market. Many startup ideas are focused on the skills of founders and not what the market needs meaning they build with themselves in mind. Shameless plug, Meeticks Surveys is an amazing tool for market research.

Number 2 - Launch fast, fail fast. Failure is a recipe for success. Failure is understanding what doesn’t work, and then how to make things work. The sooner you fail, the sooner you learn, the sooner you iterate, and the sooner you succeed. I am addicted to challenges and problem solving, so I look for trouble that tries to get me to fail, and I strive to win. It’s like playing a video game, you will each level until eventually, you master it, and finally master the whole game. 

Lastly, please share with our readers where you can be reached if they are interested in getting in touch

You can find me on LinkedIn, Bashanganyi Magwape, and you can also email me at - I am always open to engagements and partnerships with like-minded individuals and companies especially if you are a developer wanting to build great products and take on Africa. Also, if you are looking for somewhere to invest, we are aiming to do a capital raise towards the end of the year or early next year.

NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity
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