SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY AWARD
South Africaís low-cost housing dilemma is in the news nearly every
Hennie Botes looked at the
basic problem, applied some complex technology and thinking and came up
with a simple solution: he invented patented box moulds
that allow the rapid erection of low-cost, less labour-intensive,
quality housing. Now his company, Moladi, is putting roofs over peopleís
heads in South Africa, Iraq, India and the Sudan.
On the entrepreneurial philosophy
If you can solve a problem and sell the solution, youíre going to be
successful. Itís a theme from the book Think and Grow Rich (by Napoleon
Hill) and I really subscribe to that. Sadly, it seems that in South
Africa today we donít do enough to nurture entrepreneurship. The basic
schooling curriculum is not encouraging self-development or generating
enough self-employed people. The result is a generation thinking that
life owes them something.
Hennie Botes - Inventor of moladi
On overcoming obstacles
When Bell invented the phone, it wasnít very successful. People didnít
see the attributes or understand how it might be used in the future and
I had similar problems. I was highly motivated and really believed in my
idea, but when I presented it to investors, theyíd shoot holes in it. I
had to overcome these hurdles. Itís been a 22-year journey, but I always
kept the goal in mind. Moses spent 40 years in the desert and Noah took
years to build the ark, but they both knew what they were doing and why.
Iím quite happy my desert experience was only 20-odd years, though.
On putting roofs over peopleís heads
Thereís an American company that wants to build classrooms in Iraq, and
they told me weíre the third M: there was a guy who saw a need for a
global burger and McDonalds was the result; there was a guy who saw the
need for global computer software and Microsoft was born; and thereís a
need for housing and Moladi provides a solution. That really motivates
me - the fact that we can address the huge housing need while creating
employment. Handing over a house is guaranteed "goosebumps" stuff, every
Itís not just the way you build the wall of a house, but the way you
supply the entire product. Our building process has been approved and
accepted, so itís time to look ahead. Weíre working on producing
windows, doors, toilet seats, window frames, sinks and washbasins. If I
can include these as part of my product, Iíll reduce the total unit cost
of the house. The more I reduce the overall price, the more houses
Moladi will produce. Iíd rather build a house a day and sell it for R1
000, than build one house a year and sell it for a million.
Health Best Man annual awards recognise South African men who are
making a difference in society today. These men inspire us in our daily
lives and create unique opportunities for all South Africans to reach
their goals and develop themselves.