25 Nov Stories of HOPE: Catching up with Godfrey Modise
Since being with RLabs in Botswana, Godfrey Modise, learned during one of the training sessions to leverage and maximize the things you passionate about. In his case it was farming and that is where the journey of Farmers Guide started.
According to Godfrey he didn’t have an idea what to do, until it dawned upon him that he always find it hard when he wants to sell some of his livestock. That was when the idea of starting a publication came to mind.
He started the journey without any capital other than the US$25 that he used to print and design one sample of the publication. The sample would become his marketing tool and he embarked on finding potential advertisers showing them the sample. Some were skeptical of the idea, while some were so excited that for once there was going to be a publication that focuses on Agriculture only in Botswana. Advertisers gave him their adverts and he was really excited, but they couldn’t pay him upfront because they didn’t know if he was able to take the publication to production.
Now came the time to print his first edition, but Godfrey needed a professional designer and additional capital to print the first copies. In Godfrey’s own words this is how Farmers Guide came to life:
“One guy who has since become a friend saw the sample that I had posted on Facebook, he liked the sample on Facebook and I sent him an inbox telling him that I have this newspaper that I want to design but I don’t have money to pay a professional graphic designer, he told me to come to his office the next day, (by the way he is a graphic designer at one of the leading newspapers in Botswana), I went to his office the next day, he saw the sample and he was blown away because they have never been that kind of publication in Botswana, most publications in Botswana focuses on Politics, gossip and news. So he offered to be Farmers Guide designer for free and to assist us for the whole year with designing. So now at that point I got a designer and now there was one little problem, since advertisers couldn’t pay me upfront I had to borrow money to print the first edition.
I went to businessmen and businesswomen trying to borrow money so that I can print and all of a sudden they didn’t have money, they didn’t want to borrow me, telling me that what if my publication doesn’t succeed. And when they didn’t want to borrow me money I was so hopeless, but being part of RLabs where we normally talk of hope I decided to soldier on. And suddenly I remembered that in April my mother had sold two cows, so I went to my mother to borrow money, I couldn’t sell my own cows or goats at that point because it would take longer to sell and advertisers were waiting for the edition to be printed. With my mother being old I had to explain for two hours with the help of my sister, what I wanted to use the money for. Well my mother heard my story and what I wanted to achieve, she decided to borrow me P10. 000 (US$700) but she made me write a letter stating that I borrowed money from her and indicating the amount and the date when I will return the money.
Now I went back to advertisers to get those adverts in PDF format and I took them to the the designer and within 2 hours we had our first soft copy, with articles, adverts and classifieds.
I took the soft copy for printing. Within 3 days the printed copies of the newspapers came back from the printing house. I was so excited to hold that newspaper on my hand and thinking of all the trouble that I had to go through to have that first edition printed. We started distributing it to farm shops in Gaborone and rural places so that farmers can get copies. The response was amazing, we got a lot of calls on a job well done. I still remember when I got a call from one of Botswana’s top farmers and I couldn’t believe it when he said “Hi, Geoffrey Freeman here, can I speak to Godfrey, I just got a copy at Feed Centre and I’m so excited, it’s high time we had something like this as farmers” I couldn’t believe that Mr Freeman just called me. We went on and on printing every month, right now December issue is the fifth one. For now we print once a month. The response is amazing especially from young farmers and emerging farmers.
Well that’s the story of Hope, and I always say that being a volunteer at RLabs Botswana really helped me, and had I not come to RLabs I wouldn’t have met you, Clinton, Tshepang, Oratile, Wendy, Brent, Christine, Suzanne, RLabs Botswana champions like Felix, Thata and Arnold, and guys like Nathaniel Wagner, Angelo, Jade, Calvin (well these ones I only talk to them on social media I have never met them). Oh and one last thing the Farmers Guide team is made up of only 3 people, it’s me and the other two guys from RLabs. These guys just like me they believed in the idea of starting a farming publication.”
Today Farmers Guide print 25 000 copies and is the largest publication of its kind in Botswana. It tell the stories of young farmers,to inspire and give hope to others who might be interested in farming, and all editorial support and development of Farmers Guide is done by Godfrey and the team.
Godfrey is a true example of what is possible when you ignited with HOPE and a shining light to other young people on the continent that there are endless possibilities in the midsts of your difficulties. Well done to Godfrey and the RLabs Botswana team for “Making HOPE Contagious”.