The Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) and Messidor Investment have been given a nod by the Hilton Group to go ahead with the construction of the hotel worth P300 million. The approval comes after the Hilton Group was impressed with the mock-up room that was constructed to display the interior design of the rooms.
The Mock-up room was commissioned by the group to ensure that the new hotel will have the same look and feel like other Hilton hotels so as to maintain consistency. Furthermore, the mock-up room was necessary for the Hilton Group to ascertain if the first Hilton Hotel in Botswana meets their standard global brand. At a press briefing, it was revealed that the Hilton Group has inspected the mock-up room and gave a go ahead after making comments and suggestions.
“We have reached a milestone with our Hilton Hotel project following approval by the Hilton Group. The project now commences and we will be working on a strict schedule,” said Ms. Boitumelo Molefe, BPOPF CEO. Ms. Molefe was accompanied by Mr. Victor Senye and Harry Fleetwood-Bird, both from Messidor Investment, the company that will be managing the project. Mr. Senye reiterated the BPOPF CEO’s words that they have reached a real milestone in terms of the development of the hotel.
“We have met the specifications by the Hilton Group through our mock-up room and they have approved the specifications as it meets the set quality assurance standards,” explained Mr. Senye before adding that following the Hilton Group’s review, the real work now begins. “Through the mock-up room we gave them a feel of the product. Now we have to pull up our sleeves and deliver.”
The mock-up room will be demolished as construction commences in full force. Messidor Investments has tapped GM Five as the main contractor for the development of the two buildings. According to Mr. Senye, the development consists of offices and the hotel with both structures to be built concurrently. It was also revealed that the envisaged 4-star hotel will have a total of 153 rooms made up of 6 suites and 147 standard rooms. Situated at the heart of the nation’s new central business district (CBD), the Hilton Hotel will attract travelling business people, and the addition of offices by the developer will enhance convenience.
The media was taken on the tour of the mock-up room to give them exclusive view of how the hotel rooms will look after construction is complete. During the inspection of the room, it was also explained the process that went behind building the structure. Mr. Harry Fleetwood-Bird says in constructing the hotel, the Hilton Group’s brand standards had to be adhered to so as to maintain consistency with rest of the Group’s hotels.
“The Hilton Group is strict on its brand globally, and they want to maintain the same look and feel. Even the sizes of the rooms are determined by the Hilton Group. This mock-up room has been designed to match the Group’s specifications.” Mr. Fleetwood-Bird said that although it is a 4-star hotel, the materials to be used in the rooms are of the highest quality, a development which easily puts the new hotel on par 5-star hotels. Perhaps to emphasize his point, Mr. Fleetwood-Bird said the doors to be used are one of a kind and not readily available in Africa, and indication of the Hilton Group’s strict specifications on maintaining consistency.
The hotel which is expected to be completed by end of November will feature state of the art technology that will ensure that the hotel is eco-friendly and they have gone to great lengths to ensure that each room will be sound proof to prevent disturbances to guests. “Of course in a project of this size there will invariably be delays but we are fortunate not to have experienced major delays except for the recent rains but we are in talks with the main contractor to push the schedule up which might involve working at night,” explained Mr. Fleetwood-Bird.
It is expected that after the main contractor finishes with the construction in November, the second phase will involve interior fittings and commissioning of the hotel staff, and then followed by a testing phase to see if everything works according to plan. The process is estimated to take three months, meaning the hotel will be fully operational in early 2018.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fleetwood-Bird says by meeting the Hilton Group’s specifications regarding the development of the hotel, they have not deviated from BPOPF’s clear instructions which required that there should be strong citizen participation in the project. “BPOPF is strict about citizen participation, and that involves buying locally. We have more than 300 citizens on site,” he said and added that a balance had to be made in relation to meeting Hilton Group’s demands and those of BPOPF.
The P300 million Hilton project was commissioned in 2015 after BPOPF signed an agreement with the Hilton Worldwide for the first Hilton Hotel in the country. Around that time, it was announced that the 4-star hotel will be called Gaborone Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and the project was to be managed by Flemming Asset Management. However relations between BPOPF and Fleming broke down last year amid allegations of Flemming sidelining local contractors, an occurrence that went against BPOPF’s wishes.
Matters soon took a turn for the worst when BPOPF cancelled contracts worth billions with Flemming on the back of a financial scandal that hit the company. There were unconfirmed allegations that BPOPF’s funds managed by Flemming might have been exposed to unnecessary risk. Despite the fall down between the parties, BPOPF agreed to keep Flemming as a project manager for the hotel development.
The decision was short lived as BPOPF ended up severing all ties with Flemming, announcing that the Fund has been working with Fleming on transitioning the development of the Hilton to its property manager Messidor Investment. Ms. Molefe at the time explained that given the magnitude of the project, it was critical that the transition is as smooth as possible.
Messidor Investment, a joint venture between Botswana Insurance Fund Management (BIFM), Stocker Fleetwood-Bird and Haighs Investments, is a special purpose vehicle responsible for managing the property portfolio of BPOPF. On the other hand, BIFM is a subsidiary of the financial giant Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited. BIFM also manages some of BPOPF’s billions. Haighs Investments is a property development company managed by Mr. Senye, a former BIFM CEO. Stocker Fleetwood-Bird specialises in property consultancy, development and valuations. The company is partly owned by Mr. Fleetwood-Bird.
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The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”