Botswana: ‘Start with the bare minimum,’ says doctor-turned-entrepreneur

Matlhogonolo Mongwa-Mouwane, founder of Kalafhi Medical Center in Botswana

When Matlhogonolo Mongwa-Mouwane founded Kalafhi Medical Center in Botswana in 2018, she kept costs to a minimum. She was the only employee and refrained from spending on décor or any extras until revenue permitted. This strategy paid off. Today, Kalafhi boasts four clinics, three pharmacies, a physiotherapy centre, and an aesthetic clinic.

After graduating in 2014, Mongwa-Mouwane completed her internship at two public hospitals until the end of 2015. She was then thrown in the deep end, when in 2016, she had to find her feet in managing a rural clinic in Phitshane Molopo, as the most senior member of staff. “Imagine just starting out in your career and you are thrust into this position where you are managing a whole clinic,” she recalls. “This is where I learnt most of my leadership skills.”

In 2017 she moved back to the capital city, Gaborone, where she was an employee of the Always Open Clinic and doing locum stints at Bokamoso Private Hospital. All the while she was planning a future where she could move into private practice on her own.

In 2018, she took the leap and opened Kalafhi Medical Center at the Village Centre in Gaborone.

“It doesn’t actually cost a lot of money [to open a private practice],” says Mongwa-Mouwane. “We are always so afraid to start because we envision the bigger picture or where we want to end up being [that] we don’t allow ourselves … to start with the bare minimum.”

She used her own savings to buy the basic equipment needed like desks, beds, blood pressure and vital signs machines. “I was the only employee,” she says.

Read our full interview with Matlhogonolo Mongwa-Mouwane: Doctor-turned-entrepreneur seizes healthcare opportunities