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Barclays Botswana launches SME program

Barclays Botswana has once again introduced a more convenient package and small medium enterprises tailored initiative in the area of procurement and logistics businesses.

The Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Programme (ESD) will provide businesses development facilities and access to financial assistance so that SMEs can fulfill their purchase orders and watch their businesses prosper.
When giving a key note address at the launch in Gaborone this past Wednesday Barclays Managing Director, Reinette van der Merwe said her company recognized the integral role played by small medium enterprises in the growth of Botswana economy and diversification of the latter.

"When we grow our business, those around us should grow with us and prosper. This is what will drive economic growth in our country. Based on our research of SMEs early development, the ESD Programme will aim to increase SME access to financial coaching and mentorship,” she said.

Explaining the package, Barclays Head of Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Programme, Kushata Chilisa said SMEs were the heartbeat of Botswana’s economy but were currently challenged when it comes to them accessing financing hence the programme. She explained that  small medium enterprises engaged in supplies and procurement both for government and private sector purchases will partner with Barclays in form of an MOA and be provided with financing to resource their procurement and supply tenders.

“We will be giving loans to qualifying SMEs with evident financial discipline and book keeping record without asking for security,” she said.  “The project is aimed at addressing challenges faced by small enterprises in Botswana.” Botswana Chamber of Mines which is a commercial lobby group of mining companies in Botswana also presented on their similar program which compliments the Barclays package. Joe Ramotshabi said through their program they have been able to partner with over 30 businesses and employ over 400 talented Batswana.

 “Our programme is made up of procurement managers from all mines operating in Botswana.” Ramotshabi said as a company in the mining sector which constitutes numerous procurement, purchases and supply of equipments, materials and other instruments used in daily operations and support services they came up with the program to boost government efforts of employment creation.

“We looked at what we could use to complement the government to create employment and diversify the economy and we came up with our own project too. We identify capable citizen owned companies that need to be mentored to grow and offer services and supply products to the mining sector and put them under our programme,” he said.

Government efforts

Barclays has over the years developed a number of initiatives aimed at empowering SMEs, the products supplement a number of national strategies put together by government and the private sector. Small Micro & Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) have been identified as the missing puzzle in Botswana’s economic makeup. This sector comprises small scale business, community cooperatives, hawkers, roadside traders as well as medium scales businesses. Over 30% of Botswana’s workface is employed by small medium enterprises. This sector currently contributes over 20% to Botswana‘s economy.

In its quest to empower Batswana and realize economic diversification away from the diamond sector, as well as employment creation and sustainable growth, the Government of Botswana has setup various business facilitation arms and also introduced a number of programs and initiatives.

Youth Development Fund under the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Cultural Development intends to finance young people to start up medium enterprises in almost every sector from agriculture , manufacturing and ICT. The Department of Gender Affairs under the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration  and Gender Affairs offers the Women’s Grant to groups of women to a tune of P350 000 for the women to turn community cooperatives and indigenous small medium business into profit making entities.

Local Enterprise Authority ( LEA) under the Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry offers development and support services to the local industry needs of SMMEs, The Authority's key sectors are manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, and any services that support the three business sectors.

In particular, LEA targets women, youth, and the unemployed. In delivering their mandate and mainly supporting the Small Micro & Medium Enterprises LEA conduct entrepreneurship awareness workshops annually across the country to cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship in youth and the unemployed.

The Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA) operates as an investment arm and financer to viable projects and feasible business ideas. Although it initially gave funds of up to tens of millions, CEDA recently introduced an SMME tailor made initiative-Mabogo Dinku.

Through the program CEDA provides subsidized loans for various micro-entrepreneurs to enable citizen participation in enterprise development. Mabogo-Dinku loan offers micro-enterprises an opportunity and enables citizen participation in enterprise development.
The initiative provides micro-enterprises with funds for their business needs ranging from working capital to small asset finance. Mabogo-Dinku offers short term loans from P500.00 to a maximum of P150, 000.00 per person, payable in 3-12 months to citizens who are micro-entrepreneurs to assist in the growth of their business.

Namibia’s deliberate actions on SME development

Namibia, whose economical setup is similar to that of Botswana, seems to be progressing as far developing SMEs is concerned. The Namibia Ministry of Trade, Industry & SME Development scooped position 1 in the Country Pavilion category at the last week Global Expo held in Gaborone.

In an interview with Brian Patako, senior official representing the Ministry WeekendPost established that the Namibian Government took deliberate steps to enact the Small Medium enterprises development as a key national agenda hence the renaming and realignment of the trade ministry to the nomenclature “Ministry of Trade, industry & SME Development” in 2014.

According to Patako SMEs currently contribute only just above 12 % to the Namibian economy, a figure that improved tremendously since 2014 prioritization on empowerment of the SME sector. “As much as we pursue foreign direct investment (FDI) realized we needed to put forward the development of our ordinary people businesses, because we have like all other African countries experienced the wrath of fly by night investors and pseudo business people who come into our country and exploit our generosity, pocket proceed and exit,” he said.

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Unleashing potential: Connectivity as a catalyst for economic and societal growth in Botswana

23rd April 2024

Imagine a young entrepreneur in the city of Gaborone with dreams of starting her own business. With access to high-speed internet, she can connect with suppliers, market her products online, and reach customers around the world, all from the comfort of her home.

Just a few years ago, this internet access was a luxury reserved for the privileged few. Today, however, thanks to the ambitious National Broadband Strategy launched in 2019, the digital landscape of Botswana is undergoing a dramatic transformation, reflecting the government’s commitment to providing stable and secure internet connectivity to businesses, citizens, and organisations.

A proactive approach to ensuring uninterrupted connectivity

The importance of reliable connectivity can’t be overstated. For instance, on 14 March 2024, four major undersea telecommunications cables, West Africa Cable System (WACS), Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT–3, experienced simultaneous outages, with significant internet disruptions across the continent.

In this instance, Liquid Intelligent Technologies’ (Liquid) proactive investment in multiple undersea cables along both the east and west coasts of Africa showed the benefits of a robust and diversified network. Our redundant international backbone ensured traffic was rerouted, maintaining an uninterrupted service and keeping customers connected. This commitment to uninterrupted connectivity is mirrored in our initiatives such as the Gaborone Metro Ring.

Driving growth and promoting investment

The Gaborone Metro Ring is a telecommunications network powered by Liquid Botswana, which has turned the bustling capital city into a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. Start-ups and established businesses alike are harnessing the power of high-speed internet to drive growth, create jobs, and open doors to investment.

Connectivity lies at the heart of Botswana’s digital transformation, creating economic growth and community development. The Gaborone Metro Ring, which spans key business hubs and high-density areas, provides internet access and empowers individuals and hundreds of businesses in the city, driving innovation, and fostering inclusivity. Covering Gaborone and Lobatse, it is providing the internet connectivity necessary to positively transform and grow the Botswana economy.

Fuelling entrepreneurship and job creation

One of the key benefits of enhanced connectivity is its ability to support advanced data, video, messaging, and voice services, paving the way for increased efficiency and productivity. Businesses, particularly start-ups and SMEs, can leverage high-speed internet to streamline operations, reach new markets, and drive growth. Moreover, reduced tariffs and exclusive offers within the metro fibre zone enable businesses to innovate and compete globally, fuelling entrepreneurship and job creation.

Empowering individuals and strengthening communities

In a country with 1.95 million internet users, representing an internet penetration rate of 73.5% of the total population, the benefits of connectivity extend far beyond Lobatse and Gaborone, reaching communities across the country. Improved access to information and services empowers individuals, strengthens communities, and drives social development. Moreover, connectivity plays a crucial role in bridging the digital divide, ensuring that no one is left behind in Botswana’s journey towards a digitally inclusive society.

As Botswana continues to embrace digital transformation, the role of connectivity will only become more critical. It is not just about connecting people, but about empowering them to realise their full potential, driving economic growth, and building a more inclusive society.

Internet is the backbone of a knowledge-based economy. From empowering entrepreneurs and startups and fuelling the digital economy, to improving education and healthcare, reliable and resilient connectivity is key. In addition, in the event of an emergency such as the recent multiple undersea cable failure, a diverse and stable option that ensures business continuity is essential. The Liquid-powered Gaborone Metro Ring, adding to the company’s 110,000km of fibre across the continent, is fuelling the transformative power of connectivity in Botswana.

 

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LLR transforms from Company to Group reporting

9th April 2024

Botswana Stock Exchange listed diversified real estate company, Letlole La Rona Limited (“LLR” or “the Company” or “the Group”), posted its first set of group financial statements which comprise the Company and Group consolidated accounts, which show strong financial performance for the six months ended 31 December 2023, with improvements across all key metrics.

The Company commenced the financial year with the appointment of a Deputy Chairperson, Mr Mooketsi Maphane, in order to bolster its governance and enhance leadership continuity through the development of a Board and Executive Management Succession Plan.

At operational level, LLR increased its shareholding in Railpark Mall from 32.79% to 57.79% and proudly took over the management of this prime asset.

The CEO of LLR, Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng commented “During the period under review, our portfolio continued to perform strongly, with improvements across all key metrics as a result of our ongoing focus on portfolio growth and optimisation.

“We are pleased to report a successful first half of the 2024 financial year, where we managed to not only grow the portfolio through strategic acquisitions and value accretive refurbishments but also recycled capital through the disposal of Moedi House as well as the ongoing sale of section titles at Red Square Apartments. The acquisition of an additional 25% stake in JTTM Properties significantly uplifted the value of our investment portfolio to P2.0 billion at a Group level. Our investment portfolio was further differentiated by the quality of our tenant base, as demonstrated by above market occupancy levels of 99.15% and strong collections of above 100% for the period”.

The growth in contractual revenue of 9% from the prior year’s P48.0 million to the current year P52.2 million, increased income from Railpark Mall, coupled with high collection rates, has enabled the company to declare a distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit, which is in line with the prior year.

 

In line with its strategic pillars of ‘Streamlined and Expanded Botswana Portfolio’ as well as ‘Quality African Assets’, the Group continuously monitors the performance of its investments to ensure that they meet the targeted returns.

“The Group continues to explore yield accretive opportunities for balance sheet growth and funding options that can be deployed to finance that growth” further commented the CEO of LLR Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng.

Ms Mowaneng further thanked the Group’s stakeholders for their continued support and stated that they look forward to unlocking further value in the Group.

 

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Botswana’s Electricity Generation Dips 26.4%

9th April 2024

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has reported a significant decrease in electricity generation for the fourth quarter of 2023, with output plummeting by 26.4%. This decline is primarily attributed to operational difficulties at the Morupule B power plant, as per the latest Botswana Index of Electricity Generation (IEG) released recently.

Local electricity production saw a drastic reduction, falling from 889,535 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 654,312 MWH in the period under review. This substantial decrease is largely due to the operational challenges at the Morupule B power plant. Consequently, the need for imported electricity surged by 35.6% (136,243 MWH) from 382,426 MWH in the third quarter to 518,669 MWH in the fourth quarter. This increase was necessitated by the need to compensate for the shortfall in locally generated electricity.

Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (ZESCO) was the principal supplier of imported electricity, accounting for 43.1% of total electricity imports during the fourth quarter of 2023. Eskom followed with 21.8%, while the remaining 12.1, 10.3, 8.6, and 4.2% were sourced from Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM), Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), Nampower, and Cross-border electricity markets, respectively. Cross-border electricity markets involve the supply of electricity to towns and villages along the border from neighboring countries such as Namibia and Zambia.

Distributed electricity exhibited a decrease of 7.8% (98,980 MWH), dropping from 1,271,961 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 1,172,981 MWH in the review quarter.

Electricity generated locally contributed 55.8% to the electricity distributed during the fourth quarter of 2023, a decrease from the 74.5% contribution in the same quarter of the previous year. This signifies a decrease of 18.7 percentage points. The quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that the contribution of locally generated electricity to the distributed electricity fell by 14.2 percentage points, from 69.9% in the third quarter of 2023 to 55.8% in the fourth quarter. The Morupule A and B power stations accounted for 90.4% of the electricity generated during the fourth quarter of 2023, while Matshelagabedi and Orapa emergency power plants contributed the remaining 5.9 and 3.7% respectively.

The year-on-year analysis reveals some improvement in local electricity generation. The year-on-year perspective shows that the amount of distributed electricity increased by 8.2% (88,781 MWH), from 1,084,200 MWH in the fourth quarter of 2022 to 1,172,981 MWH in the current quarter. The trend of the Index of Electricity Generation from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 indicates an improvement in local electricity generation, despite fluctuations.

The year-on-year analysis also reveals a downward trend in the physical volume of imported electricity. The trend in the physical volume of imported electricity from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 shows a downward trend, indicating the country’s continued effort to generate adequate electricity to meet domestic demand, has led to the decreased reliance on electricity imports.

In response to the need to increase local generation and reduce power imports, the government has initiated a new National Energy Policy. This policy is aimed at guiding the management and development of Botswana’s energy sector and encouraging investment in new and renewable energy. In the policy document, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Lefoko Moagi stated that the policy aims to transform Botswana from being a net energy importer to a self-sufficient nation with surplus energy for export into the region. Moagi expressed confidence that Botswana has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in electric power supply, given the country’s readily available energy resources such as coal and renewable sources.

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