Brastorne is Transforming Lives through Mobile Technology

Empowering Communities with Access to Information, Markets, and More

Naledi Magowe, a visionary entrepreneur committed to social impact, is a driving force behind Brastorne, a pioneering tech company based in Botswana. With a deep-rooted belief in making a positive difference in people’s lives, Naledi’s journey has been shaped by a strong dedication to achieving impactful change. In collaboration with her co-founder Martin Stimela (CEO) and a team of passionate individuals, Naledi’s focus on leveraging technology to empower farmers and bridge information gaps has resulted in Brastorne’s revolutionary platforms. This article explores Naledi Magowe’s journey, the motivation behind Brastorne’s initiatives, notable achievements, challenges faced, team composition, and their broader impact on the tech ecosystem in Botswana.

From Education to Social Impact

Born and raised in Botswana, Naledi Magowe comes from a middle-class family that values education and hard work. Inspired by her parents’ emphasis on achieving goals, Naledi’s determination to make a positive impact on others’ lives became a core value she carried into her professional career. Holding a degree in marketing and an MBA, Naledi’s educational journey equipped her with valuable skills and a broad understanding of business principles. Although her academic background did not focus specifically on technology, Naledi’s passion for impact and her collaboration with technical experts paved the way for her journey into the world of tech-driven social entrepreneurship.

The Birth of Brastorne and a Commitment to Impact

Motivated by the gaps she observed in accessing information and markets, Naledi Magowe, along with her co-founder, embarked on a journey to empower farmers and uplift underserved communities. Recognizing the limited availability of smartphones and internet connectivity in their target market, they strategically utilized USSD and SMS technologies to create Brastorne’s inclusive platforms. Naledi’s unwavering commitment to social impact drove the team’s efforts in refining their products, experimenting with local solutions, and nurturing partnerships to make a meaningful difference in Africa’s agricultural landscape.

Brastorne’s product offering

mAgri : Transforming Agriculture and Empowering Farmers

Brastorne’s flagship platform, mAgri, has emerged as a powerful tool in the agricultural sector. Through a simple dial-in code, farmers gain access to a menu-driven interface featuring a chat platform, information resources, a marketplace, and external sites. This innovative approach fosters connectivity, knowledge-sharing, and economic growth among farmers. The chat platform facilitates communication, enabling farmers to exchange insights, seek advice, and participate in group communities. Access to vital information on farming practices, market prices, and training opportunities empowers farmers to make informed decisions, enhancing their productivity and overall success. Additionally, the marketplace feature provides a platform for farmers to market their produce directly, reducing reliance on intermediaries and bolstering their financial independence.

Mpotsa : Empowering Communities through Information Access

Recognizing the importance of accessible information, Brastorne developed Mpotsa, a platform that leverages SMS technology to provide valuable knowledge to underserved communities. Mpotsa features different verticals, including job opportunities, local language learning, and health information. Users can subscribe to receive notifications tailored to their interests, opening doors to economic opportunities, cultural enrichment, and improved well-being. Mpotsa’s user-friendly interface and engagement-driven approach enable users to access relevant information even without internet connectivity, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of knowledge and growth.

Thari : Enhancing Maternal Health through Technology

Brastorne’s commitment to improving lives extends to the realm of maternal health with their platform Thari. By leveraging technology to connect women with vital health information, Thari empowers expectant mothers and new mothers with access to the public health system, resources, and trained healthcare professionals. Thari acts as a virtual support system, enabling women to receive timely updates on antenatal care, postnatal care, and important vaccinations. By bridging information gaps and fostering communication between women and healthcare providers, Thari plays a crucial role in promoting healthier pregnancies, reducing maternal mortality rates, and empowering women to make informed decisions regarding their health and the well-being of their children.

Partnerships and Exponential Growth

Brastorne’s exponential growth can be attributed to its strategic partnerships and collaborative efforts with key stakeholders. Recognizing the importance of working together with government entities and agricultural NGOs, Brastorne has forged partnerships that align with its mission and target market. Collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and relevant departments ensures the legitimacy and relevance of the information disseminated to farmers. By leveraging the existing networks and knowledge of agriculture-related NGOs, Brastorne extends its reach and impact among farming communities.

However, one of the most vital partnerships for Brastorne lies with mobile network operators (MNOs). Telcos provide the necessary infrastructure and access to their extensive user databases, making the platform accessible to end-users. The strong partnership with Orange, a multinational telco with a significant presence in 19 African countries, has played a pivotal role in Brastorne’s success. Building a fruitful relationship over the course of several years, Brastorne has demonstrated the value of its products and scaled its operations in countries such as Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, and Cameroon. Looking ahead, Brastorne aims to expand its footprint to additional countries, including Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Madagascar, forging partnerships with different network providers to ensure seamless accessibility to its platforms.

Exponential growth is not only fueled by partnerships but also by Brastorne’s innovative business model. With a subscription-based revenue model, users pay a nominal fee, typically around a dollar per month, to access Brastorne’s platforms. By focusing on volume and ensuring affordability, Brastorne has successfully attracted a large user base, driving revenue generation and scalability. The partnership with telcos facilitates customer acquisition, while word-of-mouth referrals and SMS campaigns contribute to organic growth. This sustainable business model has enabled Brastorne to bootstrap its operations, reinvesting profits and driving its own growth. However, recognizing the need for additional funding to accelerate expansion and scale more rapidly into new markets, Brastorne actively seeks external financing opportunities that align with its vision and valuation.

Overcoming Challenges and Funding

Building Brastorne has not been without its challenges. Navigating the slow-moving nature of partnerships with telcos and adapting to different technical integrations across countries presented hurdles along the way. The dynamic nature of agricultural practices, language diversity, and limited funding opportunities in Southern Africa further added to the complexities. To overcome these challenges, Brastorne has focused on sustainable business models, bootstrapping their growth, reinvesting profits, and being intentional about external funding opportunities. While navigating these obstacles, Brastorne has achieved notable milestones, securing funding from prestigious institutions such as MIT and Google.

Team Composition and Culture

Brastorne’s team comprises young and passionate individuals who are deeply committed to the company’s mission and values. Integrity, problem-solving abilities, innovation, and grit are the core attributes that Brastorne values in its team members. While the team has experienced growth, it remains focused on attracting individuals who align with the company’s culture and mission. As the team expands, they seek to bring in experienced professionals who can contribute to realizing Brastorne’s full potential.

Brastorne’s Impact on the Tech Ecosystem in Botswana

The tech ecosystem in Botswana is still in its infancy, with limited support systems and capacity gaps. However, Brastorne has been instrumental in driving progress within the local ecosystem. While primarily focused on their own growth and scaling, Brastorne collaborates with and supports other startups and small companies when possible. By offering office spaces, internet access, and service provider opportunities, they contribute to the growth and development of the local entrepreneurial landscape. Brastorne envisions a future where they can make a more meaningful impact on the local ecosystem once they have achieved substantial growth and scalability.

In conclusion Brastorne’s pioneering work in leveraging mobile technology to empower farmers, enhance access to information, and connect underserved communities has had a significant impact on the African continent. Through their platforms like mAgri, Mpotsa, and Thari, Brastorne is not only transforming the agricultural sector but also addressing information gaps in education, healthcare, and legal services. With strategic partnerships, a dedicated team, and a focus on sustainable growth, Brastorne continues to drive positive change, shaping the tech ecosystem in Botswana and inspiring other entrepreneurs to create innovative solutions that uplift communities and foster inclusive growth in Africa.

Previous Story

Google Bard launches in Swahili- first African language

Next Story

Vodacom to invest over R500 million in Eastern Cape for digital inclusion