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Meet Botswana’s 22 year-old FinTech prodigy

Publishing Date : 05 September, 2018

Author : GOITSEONE SEVEN

Refiloe Matlapeng, a 22 year-old Motswana technoprenur is making it big in South Africa’s FinTech industry, offering technology based insurance solutions through her company, Mahali Media.
 

In recognition of her talents, the young lady has been nominated for the Female Tech-role model of the year at the Southern Africa Start up Awards billed for November this year. The Southern Africa Start-Up Awards is Southern Africa Chapter of world-renowned Global Startup Awards.


The Global Startup Awards provides an annual spotlight focus to web/tech start-ups in regions across the globe. Each individual regional award places a heavy focus on unearthing and rewards the very best from within their respective ecosystems & connecting each of the countries to create a stronger united brand.
 

The awards stand to represent the entire start-up and tech community - from the start-ups themselves, through to the people behind them, & organizations that work alongside these visionaries to make great things possible. Born and bred in Botswana, Matlapeng moved to South Africa after realising that she stood a better chance of fulfilling her dream abroad than home.

“Locally the FinTech industry does not appreciate mobile app technology. This is because generally it is very expensive to access internet locally, which limits people from using mobile apps,”she said. “Mobile applications consumes a lot of data, I think that is the major problem in Botswana. Most of Batswana have not familiarised themselves with these applications and cannot use them,” she said.
 

Matlapeng’s company, Mahali Media has managed to attract venture capitalist across Southern Africa, including Swaziland and South Africa.  Growing up as an inquisitive techno-savvy kid, Matlapeng found herself learning computer programming on her own from early age. She defines herself as an innovator in the finance industry, and that the mobile applications she develops, solves problems in the Finance industry.
 

In a nutshell, she makes it possible for people to access their finances through their mobile applications and websites. “I build any kind of technology around the finance industry. I don’t want to say I am a disruptor but rather an enabler. I meet needs where the finance industry cannot meet,” said Matlapeng.

 

Her interest for the technology world all started with her trying to invest in the stock market and realised that along the process she had difficulty with applying and buying stocks. She explains that is when she came into the picture. Instead of one having to queue for long hours to fill a piece of paper using a pen and travelling long distances to Gaborone to buy stock why not develop an application that would allow one to access their finances whenever and wherever they are/?
 

The intelligent looking young lady cited that she had always been an innovator for as long as she can remember. Despite attempts to study in the university and failing dismally Matlapeng did not let this shutter her dreams, she went on to acquire knowledge through online courses and trainings.
 

“My path of acquiring education may not be in a usual manner. I got 19 points during my form five and I only passed after re-writing. In used to leave school premises during club days to go home and build website,” elaborated Matlapeng. Matlapeng says she looks up to the likes of Thomas Edison, Zuckerberg and Elson Musk. She believes that if they could do it she can also make it as an innovator.
 

Matlapeng revealed that her company is currently working with one of the insurance companies in South Africa which will be helping them to kick-start their insurance company. In conclusion Matlapeng emphasised that entrepreneurship is a driver of economic development. She says in order to fight the constant battle of unemployment in Botswana the government needs a radical and disruptive solution that does not look at things in the lense of the current economy.
 

“Botswana needs a solution that is able to address its unemployment problem with the least amount of resources necessary and that requires the development of a new parallel economy, a digital economy. The world is now shifting away from occupying offices and labour work to automation and that is what’s going to create more jobs and quickly,” Matlapeng concluded.

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