“I can do what you can’t do and you can do what I can’t do; together we can do great things.” -Mother Teresa
Dear reader, I gladly welcome the first part of the fourth installment of this series Co-operative 101. Unfortunately this is also the last installment of this series. This series aimed to achieve the following fundamental objectives: i) to celebrate and acknowledge the successes and ideals of the Co-operative movement locally, regionally and internationally, ii) to increase awareness and basic Co-operative knowledge and understanding especially among the Youth and youthful populace and, iii) to stimulate discussion and interest around the Co-operative ideology and philosophy. Based on feedback from readers, I’m glad to say this series has achieved its objectives. Co-operatives 101 (i) simultaneously honored the ‘International Co-operative Day’ and/or the ‘International Day of Co-operatives’.
It also gave a detailed discussion and definition of the Co-operative business model as well as its social and economic relevance. It highlighted that in their nature Co-operatives are people centered: they create employment; they alleviate poverty and unite people; they reduce inequalities and promote social justice; and they are a bridge to peace and stability. Co-operatives 101 (ii) focused on the NGCs (New Generation Co-operatives) phenomenon and the Youth Bulge phenomenon. It fundamentally highlighted the transformations and distinction between traditional Co-operative models and modern-day Co-operatives models. It also highlighted the much needed reality that Co-operatives have evolved over time and remain pivotally relevant in today’s economy. It also encouraged our nation to work towards combining the current Youth bulge phenomenon and NGCs phenomenon for a formidable economic development winning formula.
It also gave practical cases-studies of places where the NGCs and Youth Bulge combination has and continues to register amazing economic development progress. Co-operatives 101 (iii) focused on the Co-operative movement and its amazing potential in resolving our country’s hard-hitting, widespread and mounting economic development hardship such as; un- and underemployment, poverty, socio-economic exclusion and rapid urbanization. It gave a very strong argument positioning the Co-operative businesses as the most viable model in advancing our country’s search for jobs and prosperity.
This installment Co-operatives 101 (iv) is a two part offering. It is an olive branch to all, current and potential, Co-operative movement stakeholders. It addresses these stakeholders as standalone sectors and in some cases collectively. As highlighted in previous installments of this series, Co-operatives are magnificent enterprises. They have amazing multiple and cross cutting socioeconomic benefits. Co-operatives are a significant part of what the economic doctors’ order for our country’s somewhat ailing economy.
They are the bright light at the end of the long dark tunnel. However like all other high impact and cross cutting priority areas, the fruits of Co-operative enterprises can only be witnessed and widespread through a deliberate strategic mainstreaming. In all honestly, MITI (Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry) through DCD (Department of Co-operative Development) has and continues to do a great job in terms of advancing, redefining and repositioning the Co-operative business model in this country. But, more still needs to be done.
Part of the things that still need to be prioritized and executed swiftly is the stakeholder mapping and engagement strategy. Best practices case-studies teach us that countries with flourishing Co-operative industries have successfully and swiftly embarked in this fundamental process. Fortunately Botswana’s current Co-operative transformation strategy has rightfully identified some of the key Co-operative movement stakeholders.
In this installment the author attempts to reach out these stakeholders with hope and intention of encouraging and possibly catalyze the Co-operative mainstreaming process. However, some of the potential stakeholders identified below and in the subsequent offering are not identified in the Co-operative transformation strategy; they were identified via an independent stakeholder mapping exercise conducted separately by this author. In no particular order the stakeholders are as follows:
1. Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) –Youth Desk
Firstly we should appreciate and acknowledge that MYSC has long opened its doors and encouraged establishment of Youth Co-operatives. Through its most lucrative Youth empowerment initiative –YDF (Youth Development Fund) MYSC recognizes and funds Youth Co-operatives. Despite the fact that figures of funded Youth Co-operatives is not easily accessible. This author strongly suspects the number is still a bit minimal.
In my hypothesis and observation the limiting factor in this regard is lack of proper technical training on Co-operatives among the Youth populace. It is therefore fundamental and economic for MYSC and MITI to consider swiftly moving into a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) or strategic partnership that will facilitate skills development and technical guidance on Co-operative establishment, management and collaboration, whilst ensuring increased and sustainable Youth access to enterprise seed funding through the YDF program.
This will ultimately ensure actualization of the aims and objectives of the National Youth Policy and the Co-operative Transformation Strategy simultaneously.
2. Poverty Eradication Programme
Botswana, like other developing countries, is faced with a poverty reduction and/or eradication challenges. In purist of this development agenda Botswana has developed and adopted an aggressive initiative termed ‘Poverty Eradication Programme’. Like every other initiative the Poverty Eradication Programme has and continues to be subjected to subterranean public and political scrutiny, some negative and some positive. Nonetheless over coming poverty is a significant and noble endeavor, every upright and fair-minded compatriot would agree with me.
I have canvassed several parts of our country, in the process I have come across several Poverty Eradication projects, some seemingly thriving, some struggling and some abandoned. Some of the projects that are struggling and/or abounded seem to be lacking satisfactory community buy-in and support.
Remedying this reality therefore needs more community inclusive approaches towards poverty eradication projects. It calls for a more socially and economically relevant business approach within the host communities. It calls for incorporation of the Co-operative model in the Poverty Eradication Programming. It calls for a swift and strategic MoU or strategic partnership in this regard.
3. Gender Affairs Department (GeAD) – Women Economic Empowerment Programme
News of the Women Economic Empowerment programme coordinated via the GeAD (Gender Affairs Department) has reached all of us. Its noble intentions are highly welcome and long overdue.
The fact that this programme encourages applicants to come in groups/collectives makes it an exceptional and progressive initiative. Its intended outputs are guided by National Policy on Gender and Development and in line with our national Co-operative Transformation Strategy. It is therefore vital for the Department of Gender Affairs and Department of Co-operative to swiftly and strategically forge alliance to jointly advance the aspiration of their noble guiding instruments. The alliance is guaranteed to produce fruitful results for the departments and our nation at large.
4 Legislators and Policy Makers
Dear Legislators and policy makers, you have a huge and pivotal role to play in shaping our country’s policy frameworks towards the Promised Land. I understand most of our country’s economic development hardships are centered on job creation, redressing income inequalities and reducing poverty. Lately these economic development indicators seem to be relentless and in some cases escalating. In my view, this is a sign that there is need for alternative policy interventions. It is a clear signal that there is urgent need for more inclusive economic development approaches and programing. The Co-operative movement enthusiasts hope that as you continue to align our policy positions in line with our current and foreseeable economic development hardships please remember and consider the Co-operatives model as one the very few viable avenues in this regard.
5 Human Resource Development Council (HRDC)
Dear HRDC (Human Resource Development Council), the whole country has been following your recent restructuring and merging transition. Honestly, it was one of the most complex restructuring and margining process in our life time by far. Well, the only thing that brought hope and assurance in the mist of it all was the constant reminder that the process was meant to make skills development and knowledge acquisition much better and more focused. Now that the dust seems to have settled and the road ahead looks a bit clear, Co-operative movement enthusiasts would like to make a humble request to office especially the division devoted to curriculum development and appraisal. We would like you to consider incorporation and mainstreaming of Co-operative education in basic education curriculum.
This submission is based on best practice benchmarks and the need for versatile and market ready learners. Co-operative movement enthusiasts sturdily believe with sound Co-operative education graduates of our education system will be well empowered to establish thriving and competitive Co-operatives capable of creating employment and diversifying our mineral based economy.
Allow me to rest my pen at this point; An Olive Branch to Stakeholder (ii) will follow next week. It will specifically speak to the following key stakeholders: Bot50; The Fourth Estate (media); Business Development Centers, Research Institutes and Think Tanks; Village Level institutions; Framers Associations; Funding Institutions and; Motswana ko lwapeng.
*Taziba is a Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development (7189 firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recently faced significant criticism for its handling of the voter registration exercise. In this prose I aim to shed light on the various instances where the IEC has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the citizens of Botswana, leading to a loss of credibility. By examining the postponements of the registration exercise and the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively, it becomes evident that the institution has disregarded its core mandate and the importance of its role in ensuring fair and transparent elections.
Incompetence or Disrespect?
One possible explanation for the IEC’s behavior is sheer incompetence. It is alarming to consider that the leadership of such a critical institution may lack the understanding of the importance of their mandate. The failure to communicate the reasons for the postponements in a timely manner raises questions about their ability to handle their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, if the issue lies with government processes, it calls into question whether the IEC has the courage to stand up to the country’s leadership.
Another possibility is that the IEC lacks respect for its core clients, the voters of Botswana. Respect for stakeholders is crucial in building trust, and clear communication is a key component of this. The IEC’s failure to communicate accurate and complete information, despite having access to it, has fueled speculation and mistrust. Additionally, the IEC’s disregard for engaging with political parties, such as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), further highlights this disrespect. By ignoring the UDC’s request to observe the registration process, the IEC demonstrates a lack of regard for its partners in the electoral exercise.
Rebuilding Trust and Credibility:
While allegations of political interference and security services involvement cannot be ignored, the IEC has a greater responsibility to ensure its own credibility. The institution did manage to refute claims by the DISS Director that the IEC database had been compromised, which is a positive step towards rebuilding trust. However, this remains a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the IEC’s overall disregard for the citizens of Botswana.
To regain the trust of Batswana, the IEC must prioritize respect for its stakeholders. Clear and timely communication is essential in this process. By engaging with political parties and addressing their concerns, the IEC can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. It is crucial for the IEC to recognize that its credibility is directly linked to the trust it garners from the voters.
The IEC’s recent actions have raised serious concerns about its credibility and respect for the citizens of Botswana. Whether due to incompetence or a lack of respect for stakeholders, the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively and handle its responsibilities has damaged its reputation. To regain trust and maintain relevance, the IEC must prioritize clear and timely communication, engage with political parties, and demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. Only by respecting the voters of Botswana can the IEC fulfill its crucial role in ensuring free and fair elections.
The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.
Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.
Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.
This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.
Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.
On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.
Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.
Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth. Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.
Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana
So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why? Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.
A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.
Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.
Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.
Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand. Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.
So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :
Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.
Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.
The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.
So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.
There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.
But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel. A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.
Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.
Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.