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NDB plots to return to profitability

National Development Bank (CEO) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lorato Morapedi has revealed that the country’s oldest development bank has engaged on soul searching in a bid to figure out a business model that will return the bank to profitability.

The bank is one of quasi-government institutions which had been earmarked for privatisation, but persistent financial problems over the years has stalled the progress. “When I came in, the mandate was very clear; to lead the bank through transformation that was needed to prepare the bank for privatisation,” Morapedi told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview. “We need to commercialise the bank, putting the bank in position that it would be able to apply for a banking license. I want it to be a fully-fledged bank before it can be privatised.”

The desire to transform the bank has not been easy on the ground, with Morapedi having to deal with legacy issues at the bank. Over the years, NDB had developed unpleasant reputation relating to its financial performance, a culture that Morapedi had to turnaround after taking over the reins in 2010. Mainstay in the NDB financial quagmires was the bank’s funding model, which caught the attention of Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises in 2016.

“Development needs patient capital and NDB in the past was expected to raise money from money markets. It is not sustainable. We were forced to loan at high rate and they [SMEs] are not be able to meet their obligations,” observed Morapedi. “A more sustainable model is in two force; either NDB continues as FDI, then we need access to affordable or cheap funding for patient capital, or if we are to transform into the commercial space, we will need to have the other side, deposit taking because that is where cheaper funding will come from.”

NDB has been funding its loans from the money acquired from commercial banks, which both the shareholder, board of directors and executive management agree that it is bad business and is not sustainable for a development bank. The current funding arrangement was brought about by government’s decision to stop issuing bonds to NDB to raise the funds. NDB has been sourcing its funds from BIFM Capital, Barclays Bank and First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) at interest rate of 8.5 percent, and 9.5 percent for BIFM capital.

Morapedi concedes that the arrangement is not sustainable given the fact that they are also competing with commercial banks. In 2016, NDB’s loan book stood at P1.3 billion, and out of that P600 million had been placed under doubtful debt, of which P300 million was to be written off. Morapedi said Ministry of Finance, which NDB falls under appreciates what the bank is going through and the ministry has been backing the organisation to keep it afloat.

NDB was given P400 million by the ministry during 2016/17 financial year, while P200 million was disbursed during the current financial year. “When I came in together with the team that I found here, we all agreed that it is important to look at all key facets of the business; the people processes and the business,” she said.  

“Priorities were systems and people. And immediately we embarked on system change. The system that we were using was not robust enough to afford us to give the excellent service that we wanted to give our clients, to be able to give us a good springboard in the journey that we wanted to embark on. We all agreed that we need robust integrated system.” While the new system was expected to be the beginning of good things, it however revealed more than they expected.

“After we implemented the new banking system, we realised that we had more non-performing loans than we thought, that over the years our predecessors were not aware of,” said Morapedi. The financial problems also meant that the bank had to do something to cut the cost. During Morapedi’s tenure as CEO, NDB underwent two retrenchment phases, first in 2012 and secondly in 2018, resulting 23 and 56 people going home.

In the latter retrenchment, the bank had to part ways with P48 million. The retrenchment has left the bank “leaner”, something which Moropedi believes it will bring efficiency.  “On the people’s space, we embarked on restructuring exercise because we were quite alive to the fact that if we are going to be able to transform the bank, there are certain skills particular banking skills that we needed that we didn’t have,” she said.  “The bank has to be in a good state; to be able to breakeven.

Privatising will only happen after the bank has applied for a licence.” Government has adopted a privatisation strategy similar to the one used by BTCL, in which government retains 51 percent in the entity and 49 percent is offered to the public, of which 5 percent will be offered to the NBD employees.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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