Emboldened by the resounding success of the launch of Di-Apps Mobile Application Store earlier this week, First Steps Venture Centre (FSVC) programme manager, Tshepo Tsheko made a bold pronouncement to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Thapelo Olopeng, “Sir, we are not done yet! We have several other companies lined up and ready to fulfil your quest to produce young Batswana entrepreneur millionaires during your term of office.”
Tsheko was speaking on the fringes of the launch of the country’s first and only online application store, aptly named, Di-Apps Mobile Application Store. The digital distribution platform is a product of one of FSVC’s clients, Ditec Mobile.
The 100% citizen owned company designs, customizes and ultimately manufacturers mobile phones. Ditec Mobile offers a full range of hi-tech and durable mobiles with a wide appeal to people who appreciate the beauty and broad functionality of mobile phones,” states the company’s founder, Thatayaone Dichaba.
Ditec Mobile enrolled into the Botswana Innovation Hub’s technology entrepreneurship development programme, FSVC in January, 2014. The company was presented as candidate for the Ministers Young Entrepreneur Millionaire project at the launch of its Di-Apps Mobile Application Store at the Capitol Cinema at Game City mall in Gaborone.
The Youth, Sports and Culture Minister has vowed to produce at least five young entrepreneur millionaires during his term of office. Speaking at the launch, the Minister said, “It is high time Batswana showed confidence in young people and know that the big international brands we celebrate are given a push in their countries of origin.”
“Charity begins at home, these big brands are recognized by their economies, so why can’t we do the same for our brands? From today, I am becoming the brand ambassador for Ditec Mobile phones,” declared the Minister.
Expounding on his pledge to the Minister, Thseko said, “Let’s face it, the odds are heavily stacked against early stage enterprise development. A significant percentage of new businesses fail and according to Bloomberg, nine out of ten startups will fail. This is a hard and bleak truth, but these cold statistics are not intended to discourage entrepreneurs, instead, they should encourage them to work harder and smarter.”
Tsheko explained that FSVC is the Botswana Innovation Hub’s hybrid incubator/accelerator that provides business and technology support services, strategic partnerships, tenancy and market access support to startup ventures.
He said with the caliber of clients they currently have in the programme, they can confidently meet and surpass the target for young entrepreneur millionaires that the Minister has set. He went on to say that it takes an inordinate amount of time, effort and other resources to graduate technology startups, but with the talent, passion and hunger for success that the FSVC clients demonstrate, he was certain they are the premier technology incubator and business accelerator in the region.
“Our clients are very enterprising and are looking beyond our borders for markets. In fact most have already secured contracts abroad, and all we are asking for is recognition and support on the home front,” he said.
Tsheko said preparations are at an advanced stage for the launch of another locally based and globally focused startup. “World Queues is a 100% citizen owned company offering an innovative, time saving queue management service. The service allows customers to queue on line, by kiosk at entrances and by sms from their mobile phones,” he said.
The queue management service is already live in Kenya’s Coop Bank and Kenya Revenue Authority as well as the Department of Road Transport and Safety (DRTS) and First National Bank (FNB) in Botswana. “World Queues is another demonstration of the stellar work coming out of globally connected innovation ecosystem created by FSVC. We will be announcing the launch of this company in the next few weeks,” Tsheko said.
World Queues Managing Director, Justice Williams said they have been motivated by the Youth Ministers support and are looking forward to expanding their services to hospitals and clinics, and social services and amenities providers. “Our kiosks are being produced locally with a huge job creation spinoff and the revenue potential to the company and the country is enormous,” he said.
Williams said they are positioning World Queues as a Pan African brand and welcomed the support of the Youth Minister.
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.”
Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.
In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.
Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.
Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.
“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.