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A young doctor lives a her dream

05 Sep 2023

As a little girl growing up in the North East, Matlhogonolo Mongwa, would often tell playmates of her dream to be medical doctor.

The fantasy was not shared by most of her peers, who dreaded a visit to the doctor’s rooms with memories of the objectionable syringe.   

Nothing, it seems, could talk the now 34-year-old Marapong native out of her chosen path.

“I was excelling at school, and so I would always say even to my teachers that I wanted to be a doctor,” she said as she recalled those olden days when her dream made her an exception.

Fast forward to today. Dr Matlhogonolo Mongwa-Mouwane is not just a dreamer.

She is a medical doctor, an entrepreneur, a mother, and a wife. And she has not stopped dreaming.  

Kalafhi Medical Centre attests to her single-minded determination of letting nothing to stand in her way in the pursuit of a dream birthed years ago while in primary school.

On completion of secondary school, she enrolled in University of Botswana’s Bachelor of Science foundation course for those wishing to pursue science-based careers. After a year of intense study and emerging among the top in her class, she was disappointed when she was pointed to the newly established University of Botswana medical school as her next destination.

“I could not believe it,” she said. “I wanted to study abroad.”

She nonetheless accepted her fate and was among the first cohort of UB Medical School students.

Being the pioneering class, there were a lot of teething problems, which included doubts about the accreditation and quality of the programme.

Some quit along the way, but she retained her focus.

After she qualified, Dr Mongwa-Mouwane worked in the public health sector for two years before quitting to join the private sector.

In 2018, she branched on her own and started Kalafhi Medical Centre at the Village Centre, in Gaborone.

“I started with the most basic things for a general practitioner, one bed and one BP machine,” she recalled, adding that family and friends had to bring decorations to brighten the place.

As the private clinic gradually grew, she reinvested the profits into opening a branch in the Main Mall a year later.

“The idea was to expand as rapidly as possible,” she said.

Therefore, it was not surprising that in the midst of the pandemic, Kalafhi Medical Centre opened its executive branch in 2020, despite the business also being affected by the pandemic and even losing doctors to greener pastures.

“At some point we went from seeing around 100 patients to just five in a day,” she said.

Despite the fluidity of the situation, Kalafhi would soon adapt and pioneer home visits as well as incorporating technology in its services.

And in 2021, Kalafhi Medical Centre opened its physiotherapy clinic, followed by the medical aesthetic this year.

Currently, Dr Mongwa-Mouwane is working around the clock to see the pioneering day hospital off the mark.

 “A day hospital is not the same as your traditional hospital which is fully-fledged and has inpatients staying there.

It is more of a specialist centre with short day stays,” she said.

She explained that the ultimate goal was to have it as smart hospital through fusing technology.

“A day hospital and smart hospital will allow us to provide affordable healthcare in the primary health sector,” she said.  

Dr Mongwa-Mouwane stated that Kalafhi Medical Centre’s approach was customer-centric.

Having multiple clinics and a hospital is premised on keeping an eye on their patients throughout.

She said the day hospital concept is meant to enhance customer experience and lower medical costs through the use of latest technology as well as non-invasive procedures.

“Because procedures will be non-invasive, patients will not have to be hospitalized for long days after procedures,” she stated.

In future, Dr Mongwa-Mouwane envisages to reach out to the hard to reach places through telemedicine kiosks, which will be connected by internet and operated by nurses.

“The other thing that we struggle with is that doctors do not want to work in the rural areas, yet we need to take our services there as well,” she said.

She intends to bridge that gap through Kalafhi Medical Kiosks, which will connect rural Botswana with medical specialists.

“The number one thing that inspires us to keep growing is that what does not grow eventually dies,” she said as prepares for her day hospital benchmarking trip to the United Sates.

Having seemingly achieved so much, Dr Mongwa-Mouwane, believes she would not have come this far without financial assistance from the Youth Development Fund (YDF) and the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA).

Nonetheless, she is of the view that local business funding models are still conservative and skewed against start-up businesses like hers.And owing to her exploits, the budding entrepreneur, who runs her business alongside her husband, was this year among the finalists of the Top 50 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH), which is a prestigious Jack Ma Foundation flagship entrepreneurship support programme for budding African businesses.

The business currently has a staff complement of 55. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Bonang Masolotate

Location : GABORONE

Event : Interview

Date : 05 Sep 2023