Barclays Bank of Botswana recently opened a state of the art enterprise development centre, becoming the country‘s first commercial bank to have an in house, all services incubation base for local entrepreneurs.
When official opening the centre in Gaborone last week Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry Bogolo Kenewendo said Barclays has set itself apart and proved beyond reasonable doubt its commitment to supporting government business development efforts especially in the areas of Small Micro & Medi,.um Enterprises (SMMEs).
The Barclays Enterprise Development Centre is an extension of Enterprise and Supply Chain Development program launched in 2018, this time to assist the bank’s SMME customers with training and mentorship, conference room for meetings, a space to work for those who don’t have permanent offices, work stations, wifi and printing services.
Kenewendo says the Barclays Enterprise Development initiatives speak to her Ministry‘s SMME development apex contained in the 2018 Roadmap in which MITI committed to prioritizing entrepreneurship and advancement of SMME’s as a catalyst to achieving economic growth and development as well as economic diversification. “These initiatives by Barclays Bank are proof that indeed the private sector is supporting our efforts as government, and that is commendable” she said.
Honorable Bogolo noted that her Ministry has since setting out the new road map been busy with programs aimed at increasing and broadening local production through Buy Botswana campaign which promotes the production and consumption of locally produced goods and services. These initiatives includes amongst others the Street Market Day held periodically where local producers, display their goods and services to a pool of consumers and retailers in the end unlocking value chain business opportunities, partnerships and sales networks.
“Our campaigns and initiatives such as the Street market day has enabled us to partner with local retailers towards providing shelve space and market uptake for our locally produced goods, we are all about creating wealth and ensuring that Batswana have meaningful participation in the growing economy “highlighted Kenewendo.
Deliberating on the new offering Barclays Head of Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Ms Kushatha Chilisa said the Bank has embarked on the initiative as a away to address the challenges SMME’s are currently battling with , which are access to finance and lack of security for loans, lack of office space amongst others .
Chilisa highlighted that with SME development efforts by government, parastatals and other organizations advancing local supply sector the new centre should argument these existing offerings and help SMMEs flourish. “Our Enterprise Development Centre is open on Mondays to Fridays, between 8am and 5pm, for our SME clients. It is located along Old Lobatse Road, above the Barclays Industrial Branch and access will be free on pre booking basis” explained Kushatha Chilisa.
Managing Director of Barclays Botswana Mrs Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane said with the Enterprise and Supply Chain Development the bank supports SMME’s as they are the drivers of economic growth and employment creation. “At the core of our ESD Programme is opening up the supply chains of large corporate for the benefit of SMEs as well as providing bespoke financial and entrepreneurship support. This is all done to facilitate sustainable business enterprises” said Barclays Boss.
ESD will positively impact the business community and in turn benefit the whole country. “Barclays will continue to support the government efforts to ensure it has a robust economy that can compete and attract Foreign Direct Investment” she said. Last year Barclays launched the Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Programme, a bespoke initiative by the bank aimed at enabling SMMEs access to finance and credit facilities.
The program which laid foundation for the development centre launched last week , was explained as purchase order financing scheme for small medium enterprises engaged in supplies and procurement ,both for government and private sector intended to capacitates the SMMEs with access to markets, finance, and business support.
“We will be giving loans to qualifying SMMEs with evident financial discipline and book keeping record without asking for security.” explained Kushatha Chilisa early last year. The Barclays ESCD programme has since commencement dispersed over P80 million to SMEs in different sectors of the economy. In 2019 just above P50million has been spent as at end of June with a total of P100 million targeted to be disbursed by the end of financial year. Barclays revealed that the SMMEs loan book will increase year on year, pursuing the banks ultimate target of P1 billion after by 2022.
In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?
Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.
This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.
Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.
Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.
At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at https://www.bankgaborone.co.bw as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.
With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.
Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services
Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.
In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.
On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.
Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.
The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.
The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.
Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.
All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.
Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. “However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bank’s 3 – 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,” reads the survey report in part.
However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.
In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.
On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.