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Barclays opens Enterprise Development Center

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.

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Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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