Founders Spotlight: Blessing Phokedi (Founder, Malome Classified Ads)

Malome Classifieds Ads is a WhatsApp chatbot that helps WhatsApp users find products & services in Botswana. In this interview, i chat with founder Blessing Phokedi about his motivation for building the product, the challenges he has faced in scaling it as well as how he has been trying to approach those challenges.

In your own words, tell us who Blessing Phokedi is

Blessing Phokedi is a young Motswana with a passion for innovation and technology and the founder of Malome Classified Ads.

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

The journey started in 2014 with a concept and tons of ideas on using technology to make everyday life easier. Coming from a non-tech background, a lot of self-teaching took place to figure out how to implement these ideas, major one being Malome Classified Ads. The journey continues today with other tech projects in development and coming to the market soon.

Please tell us more about your platform, Malome Classified Ads

Malome Classified Ads is a WhatsApp chatbot that helps WhatsApp users find products & services in Botswana.

What was the motivation for starting Malome Classified Ads?

Finding reliable information about products and services in Botswana on the go has always been a task. There are available sources like Facebook groups but the problem is that they are free therefore everyone just jumps and posts and the information is unverified and unreliable. Therefore I needed to find a solution that would help me easily find information on the go as soon as possible. 

Realizing that almost everyone I know is on Whatsapp these days and is the most used social platform after Facebook, it seemed like the ideal platform to get people connected with Malome for information.

Growing up whenever I would ask for information, the elders would always say “botsa malome/malomaago” and bo-malome always had reliable information and local connections. That is where the name “malome” came from.

What challenges have you faced in scaling Malome Classified Ads?

Low market reception and no marketing budget have been the major challenges. From the few Batswana users who have used the platform, they find it useful and beneficial to their daily lives. The main problem has been getting businesses on board to share their products and services. 

Malome has been bootstrapped from its inception and with no marketing budget. This has capped the visibility and market promotion it rightfully so deserves.

How have you been trying to overcome those challenges?

For businesses, we have moved from offering monthly subscription listings to free listings. We saw it ideal to give them a free test run and show the effectiveness of Malome to their bottom line first. After certain numbers have been hit, thats when we can reintroduce subscription charges.

For Marketing, we have been relying on Social media posts and actively looking for investment to boost the brand. We are currently welcoming all those interested in investing and are willing to sit and discuss the future growth of Malome with them.

What are your goals for Malome Classified Ads in the next 3-5 years?

I aim to grow Malome throughout Southern Africa. Malome started operations on 5th July 2022, and the goal is by 5th July 2023, Malome should be well established in Botswana and already starting footsteps in other Southern Africa countries. 

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

Yes there are. We are looking into how we can incorporate Malome with fintech and help Malome users with bill payments and digital purchases.

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

Seeing Malome come from a concept to a reality. Seeing the everyday use by people I don't even know.

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

Being patient with the journey and learning necessary skills to run a tech startup like Go To Market Strategy.

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

Be patient, don’t give up, it will all workout eventually.

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

There is a fine line between your tech aspirations and the market reality, learn to thread the two together. What works in America or Europe won't necessarily work in Botswana, we are different peoples with different environments and needs, learn that before trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

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

Readers can call or WhatsApp on (+267) 78001004, email at or inbox Malome Classified Ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.

NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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