Masi’s rags to riches business tale

14th June 2017
Ebrahim Mohammed Masi Source:The Midweek Sun


By Sun Reporter - Reporter

ORTER For seven years he was a Messenger/Driver for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Gaborone before the regional office relocated to Pretoria, South Africa in 2009. All of a sudden, Ebrahim Mohammed Masi - now Operations Manager of his own flourishing business, Ebra’s Transportation Services & Zozo Travel and Tours – found himself thrust into the streets with no work.

Armed with a primary school (Standard 7) certificate, the then 40-year old father of three knocked on closed doors in vain searching for employment. At every turn he was told the minimum qualification required for the job was either a junior or senior secondary school certificate.

And that’s when he decided on gut instinct to turn the messenger job he had previously been doing at USAID into a “professional business”. To start with, he advertised the services he was rendering through word of mouth. And since he had previously worked with ‘white people’ and built trust and rapport with them, they began to engage him as a messenger sending him on various errands.

At the time, he had no car, but would use public transport to run errands and do other chores for his clients. But with sheer determination, commitment and a disciplined work ethic, Masi put aside some of his earnings to save for a vehicle.

Eventually, he bought a second hand car (Carena) from a white lady for P10, 000 which he paid for in five months by instalments. He used the car to transport children to school. Very soon, various clients, from government departments, NGOs, embassies, UN agencies and individuals, got attracted to his service, giving him work, which he has diligently acquitted to this day. He attributes his success to trustworthiness, a trait, he says every businessperson must possess.

The Midweek Sun caught up with Masi last Friday at Radisele Junior Secondary where he had been engaged to provide transport service by the Japanese Embassy in Botswana, which was handing over a guidance and counselling block constructed last year at a total cost of US$41, 391 (P438 000) under Japan’s grant scheme - ‘Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Projects’ (GGP).

In fact, Masi says the Japanese Embassy has developed so much trust in him and has even engaged him to transport them wherever they go around the country handing over some of the projects they have financed under the grant assistance scheme. He not only drives his clients, but also helps them in organising and event management planning.

As he entrenched himself in the market, Masi saw a niche and decided to diversify his product offering to cater for travel and tours, since he had widened his clientele to include tourists and people coming from outside Botswana. “That’s when I registered with Department of Tourism to trade as Zozo Travel & Tours.” This made him more visible. It also meant more work, and from the second-hand car, Masi has prevailed in the midst of competition, to grow his fleet to the current five vehicles, a Quantum and a 65-seater bus.

The cherry on top is that he has opened offices in Gaborone’s Block 6 suburb where he’s employed an administration officer as well as temporary drivers as and when the workload demands. Surprisingly, Masi has managed this feat without help from government financial assistance. He says CEDA could not quite comprehend his messenger/delivery service business proposal when he sought help from them.

He was eventually helped financially by Wesbank after lots of convincing to purchase the Quantum which he bought for a cash price of P430, 000 from Hyuandi. The 47-year old Mahalapye native from Xhosa 1 says he’s met very important people through his business, hence the need on his part to provide a professional service. For example, when Japanese Ambassador to Botswana H.E. Onishi Masahiro’s driver is away, the Embassy calls him to chauffeur the Envoy.

“I value my job I value my business because it allows me to rub shoulders with top executives who, by nature, require comfort and a reliable transport service. They want a car that is not prone to breakdowns,” he said. ETS can be contacted at (+267) 3053013/ Cell 71489302/ 73768202 Email: and is also available on Facebook

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