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Entrepreneurs are the emerging stars in Botswana’s growing economy

Entrepreneur, 
Pinkie Setlalekgosi



As Botswana aims to diversify its economy to reduce a dependence on diamonds, a growing number of local businesspeople are blazing a trail for others, but a lack of financial know-how could trip them up caution global entrepreneurship experts.


Pinkie Setlalekgosi is a mother and grandmother as well as an employer of 168 people. She is one of Botswana’s top female entrepreneurs, seen as a trailblazer for other women trying to make it in male-dominated industries across the country. The co-founder and director of Sprint Couriers, one of the country’s leading courier companies knows what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

“There are no short cuts to success, you have to work hard to realise your dream,” she said in a recent interview. Together with her partner, Michelle Gabriel, she started the company about 10 years ago in a coffee shop.

For almost a year, they didn’t draw salaries and almost threw in the towel, but their perseverance has paid off. Sprint Couriers now operates in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa as well as in Botswana.

There are many entrepreneurs like Setlalekgosi in Botswana – a country with the second highest score in the world for Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) – measured by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) as the percentage of adults who have started a business in the past three months.

Botswana scored 35%, not far behind the top scorer Senegal at 39%. The average for the sample, which included 60 countries, was 21%.

Entrepreneurship is actively encouraged in Botswana, a country wanting to diversify its economy and reduce a dependency on diamonds. For 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated a 3.7% increase in growth for Botswana, significantly higher than neighbouring countries Zimbabwe and South Africa.



Numerous government initiatives and programmes exist that are aimed at job creation and promoting entrepreneurship. With a high unemployment rate sitting at around 19%, there is growing awareness of the benefits of entrepreneurship, which include income generation, economic stimulation and opportunities for collaboration.

But, according to the GEM study, while Botswana has a highly entrepreneurial population and many positive supporting framework conditions, not all of the businesses created manage to survive to maturity. In addition, the data clearly shows that entrepreneurial businesses in Botswana are less likely to be innovative than businesses operating in more advanced economies.

The net result of this is that they are neither generating enough jobs nor creating new markets and products that will benefit the country.  

Nearly half or more of entrepreneurs in Botswana operate wholesale or retail businesses whereas in more developed economies entrepreneurs are drawn more to opportunities in information and communications, financial, professional, health, education and other services industries.

According to Mike Herrington, Executive Director of GEM, more specialist support needs to be directed at entrepreneurs in less developed economies to help right these imbalances. He cites making it easier for new businesses to register and operate by reducing the amount of regulations and ensuring that people have better training – particularly around financial skills – as key.

Targeted financial training has definitely played a key role in the success of local entrepreneur Tony Mautsu. At the age of 23, Mautsu founded Social Light, a media management company that specialises in social media marketing, working across platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube and Twitter. Trained as an accountant, he might have thought he was leaving the world of numbers behind him when he started a media business, but he says financial skills are vital to any entrepreneur who wants to make it in the tough world of business.

It is a view also held by Sprint Courier’s Setlalekgosi. “Business is easy,” she says. “It’s how you manage it that matters. Financial management is important.”

“Hiring the right accounting staff is an essential ingredient for any successful business,” says Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of the Association for Accounting Technicians (AAT) – a UK-based professional body for accounting technicians that offers qualifications in accounting and finance. “But it is also essential that the entrepreneur themselves has a good grasp of the numbers so that they can spot the red flags before they become a major threat to the business.”

Farrar says that many people think an accountancy or business degree is the only way to develop finance skills. “However shorter, more targeted training options are available,” he says. “AAT offers shorter, practical qualifications like the AAT Accounting Qualification. No prior experience or qualifications are needed and students are taught financial skills that they can use straight away in the workplace.”

“It takes a lot of courage to venture into business,” says Mautsu, who started out running his business from a mobile phone. Now a well-known name in Botswana’s social media circles, Mautsu sees a bright future for himself and other entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is very important to our country. A lot of people are now waking up to the harsh reality of unemployment after graduation and are starting businesses,” says Mautsu.

According to GEM, 60% of people in Botswana have indicated that they want to start a business in the next three years. They are also rated highly when it comes to not fearing failure – with the country featuring amongst the most confident entrepreneurs of all the nations surveyed for the report.


The Botswana government is also credited as being one of the countries in Africa with the least bureaucracy and red tape, meaning that entrepreneurs have less of an uphill battle when establishing businesses and getting companies off the ground.

“I believe that we are yet to see a lot of global leaders rise from Botswana,” says Mautsu. “In my opinion, Botswana is positioned geographically and otherwise as the future place to do great business. Botswana, just like anywhere in the world, is not without its challenges but entrepreneurs here are learning and making great strides within our borders as well as outside of it.”

* To find out more about AAT, contact Nicky Burke at nicky.burke@aat.org.uk

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Business

The Bulb World starts operations in South Africa

8th April 2021

Homegrown LED light manufacturing company, The Bulb World, has kick started operations in South Africa, setting in motion the company’s ambitious continental expansion plans.

The Bulb World, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017, announced last year that it will enter the South African market in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of North West province under the auspices of North West Development Corporation (NWDC).

The company has already secured a deal with South Africa authorities which entails production factory shells and tax incentives arrangements.

The company founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ketshephaone Jacob has also previously stated that the company is looking for just under P50 million to finance its expansion strategy and is reaching out to institutional investors such as Botswana Public Officers Pensioners Fund (BPOPF) and government investment arm, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).

However, Jacob told WeekendPost that instead of sitting and waiting for expansion funding the company has started hitting the ground running.

“We have decided to get in the streets of SA, start selling lights from door to door, ” said Jacob who is in currently in Rusternburg to oversee the introduction of The Bulb World products in the market.

Jacob explained more brand activations will be undertaken in South Africa. “The plan is to do it the whole of North West and Limpopo province, through hawkers, we give the hawkers the lights to sell at a factory price and they put a mark up and make a living,” he said.

The Bulb World operates from Selibe Phikwe, it currently employees 65 young people, 80 % of which are Phikwe youth. The company plans to add 100 jobs this year alone as it forges ahead with its regional and continental expansion plans.

In July this year Bulb World products will hit South African Shelves:  Pick n Pay, Checkers and Africa’s largest retailer Shoprite.

The Bulb World has been registered as a company in South Africa; the company will start producing lights from Mogwasa after striking a special economic zones deal with North West Development Corporation in North West Province South Africa.

“Over the next 10 years we are looking to create over 5,000 jobs in Africa. Through our expansion into all of Africa we will be able to create employment for various individuals in different sectors namely; manufacturing, distribution electronics and retail,” Jacob told this publication earlier this year.

Jacob said if all goes well, the plan is to have taken over Africa or rather penetrated, and have prevalent presence in the African market.

“We are gunning to have at least 30 percent market share by then. According to a 2016 Market Survey, the total valuation of sales for LED Lighting was 57BN, a portion of which we plan to have taken over by then,” he said.

 

While the company has set its eyes on Africa, Jacob said, the company has not fully exploited its local growth, indicating that there could be strategic factories built to supply neighbouring countries of Angola and Zimbabwe.

“There is potential for further local expansion as well to other areas of Botswana if things run smoothly as anticipated. Hopefully in the long-term if our fellow Africans and all these markets receive us well we are planning to build another factory,” he said.

“We are looking to build another factory in the Chobe/Ngamiland Area that will give priority to markets in Zimbabwe and Angola,” he said

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Business

‘Oil exploration will have minimal impact’

30th March 2021
Okavango-River-Basin

The Maun based Okavango Research Institute (ORI) has downplayed the impacts of oil and gas exploration in part of Okavango delta arguing that given the distance proposed the likelihoods of negative impacts drilling these exploration wells on the surface water systems is likely to be negligible.

The Institution released a position paper titled ‘Proposed Petroleum (Oil and Gas) Exploration Operations in the Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) No. 73,’ with findings stating that, in the event of discovery of economically viable hydrocarbon deposits, much more careful consideration of the impacts and economic benefits of development of the resource will be needed.

For example, the fracking process for gas and oil extraction is known to require large volumes of underground water.

It further argues that increased extraction of the underground water is likely to affect the water table level and further affect the overall water availability in the river-basin.

“The effect on water availability and use may become worse if surface water is reticulated or sourced by any means from the Kavango River. Should the exploration and fracking for oil and gas expand to Block 1720, 1721 and 1821, the impact on water availability and quality will be significant, especially if the wastewater is not well managed,” said the paper.

The research unit recommends close communication between the relevant Basin State Ministries (Mineral Resources, Environment) and the Permanent Commission on the Okavango River Basin, OKACOM, and other stakeholders must be facilitated.

This will facilitate sharing of the correct information on the desired intentions of the basin states and compromises sought for the sustainability of the ecosystems in the downstream of the Cubango-Okavango river Basin, states the position paper.

ORI as a key stakeholder with scientific information says it is positioned to provide scientific advice and guidance to decision-makers on the potential impacts of both exploration and development and operation activities.

It also recommends that while the impacts might be minimal at the exploration stage, environmental impacts during the development and extraction process are significant.

Findings also state that the SADC Protocol places a mandatory duty to make a notification of planned measures undertaken in any riparian state in cases where such measures hold the potential to cause ‘significant adverse effects.’

It further states that where the planned development is trivial and not expected to cause any significant harm, the development state is not under duty to notify other riparian states.

Given that the drilling in the Kavango Region in Nambia is merely for exploratory purpose and the possibility of harm is minor, it is therefore not surprising that the Namibian government did not inform Botswana.

However, should it be found that the oil can be profitably or economically exploited, the Namibian government would be under a duty to notify both Angola and Botswana.

The institution further states that to ensure sustainable development in the Okavango Delta the following in the context of exploration for and potential development of hydrocarbon deposits within the Cubango-Okavango River Basin, it must be considered that the Okavango Delta is a World Heritage Site listed in 2014 by UNESCO and one of the binding requirements of the listing is the non-permissible commercial mining of any mineral, gas or oil within the World Heritage Site.

It states that the Okavango Delta is also a RAMSAR site in which mining is not allowed.

Should the exploration for minerals, oil and gas be allowed, there is a high chance that a mineral, oil or gas may be found given that the Delta is sitting on karoo sediments and shale rocks which in other parts of the world have been found to be sources of oil and gas deposits. Should oil or gas be discovered, there will be a strong socio-economic pressure to mine oil or gas and create jobs for the masses.

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Business

Pakmaya yeast penetrates local market

30th March 2021
Pakmaya Africa Sales Manager: Cem Perdar

Manufactured in Turkey, Pakmaya Instant Dry Yeast can be used in the production of various fermented products, as it is suited for both traditional and industrial baking processes. All kinds of breads, buns and fermented pastry products are typical examples of applications.

Pakmaya Africa Sales Manager Cem Perdar says Pakmaya has 4 plants in across the world, further indicating that all of the plants have the highest standards of quality certificates and approvals. Regarding raw material, molasses is the main ingredient for yeast. Concerning production activities, yeast manufacturing requires high know-how and capability. Pakmaya has all those capabilities and aspects more than 45 years.

According to Perdar, Pakmaya has been existent in African markets since 30 years. From South to North, Central to East and West, a consumer can find Pakmaya in nearly every part of Africa continent.

“With its high quality, rich product selection and good service, our brand has become the favorite yeast of many Africans. On the other hand, our distributors in African countries are working very hardly and loyally in order to promote our products in their markets. After some time, we are becoming like families with our exclusive distributors in Africa and this enables both parts to work harder and keeps our product sustainable in market,” he said in an interview this week.

The yeast manufacturing giant made its way to Botswana market. The company has been smoothly working with Kamoso Distribution, a local distribution company. Perdar told BusinessPost that two entities have been working hard to earn is market locally.

“At the moment we have a good market share with them in Botswana market. I’m sure during 2021 long, we will be increasing our sales and market position. Soon we are going to start a marketing campaign in Botswana, so that means Batswana will see and recognize Pakmaya more and more. Pakmaya wants to be the best friend of bakers in bakeries and ladies at homes in Botswana.”

As per global COVID-19 regulations to curb the spread of the COVID-19, Botswana just like other country closed borders. Providentially, the restrictions did not affect the company destructively.

Perdar says “Kamoso Africa is a very important and strong partner in Botswana territory. With Kamoso’s hard work and strict measurements, we have done a very good job. So as Pakmaya, we have not suffered any distribution problem. Our partner is doing the needful at the reaching our products to end users.”

He further said “We are doing well in Botswana market and hoping to make much more. Our aim is to enter every single corner in Botswana territory. With our new marketing campaigns, we are planning to be the most preferred yeast in Botswana market.”

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