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Why CEDA rejected Ftown walker


Goabaone Chwene had done two things that almost won him public sympathy – he went on a hunger strike in Francistown; and walked 430 km over six days from Francistown to Gaborone to see President Lt Gen Ian Khama. Both Chwene’s actions were meant to push the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) into financing his lab lab producing business which he intends to set up in Gulubane in the North East District.


However, it appears Chwene’s protests have not swayed CEDA’s resolve that the proposal as tabled by the aspiring farmer is unreasonable and almost beyond reach.  Chwene arrived in Gaborone this week and was whisked into the biggest office on land at the Office of the President to table his displeasure with CEDA, and he was told to exhaust all CEDA channels of communication before he puts a lid on the talks.


Chwene is adamant that CEDA is hell-bent on frustrating his intention to be a big farmer in the north east. Through his company Baperi Investments (Pty) Ltd he had tabled a proposal amounting to just over P4 million pula in his first application; and later revised it to P3.9 million Pula, this after he was told that his business was over capitalised.

WeekendPost gathers that CEDA hired a mentor to guide him in putting together the second proposal and he rejected all the mentor’s recommendations because he did not want his original business idea fiddled with.


Another problem that was established by CEDA is that Chwene was starting everything from scratch. He had no land, so he had to buy it, in addition to the machinery. Valuations of the land he wanted to buy also demonstrated that Chwene was over charged by the owners. He was advised to apply for cheaper land with the land board but still resisted the advice. He insisted that he wanted to buy the land in Gulubane. This week, after his meeting at Office of President, Chwene visited CEDA offices with his grandmother to further his protest with CEDA officials.


Chwene believes that CEDA rejected his business proposal in 2012 without any valid reasons and it was done in bad faith. Elsewhere in the media, Chwene is quoted as saying he has lost money amounting to about P9 million over the last three years while he was battling to have the CEDA decision overturned.  He had applied for funding of over P3.8 million to plough lablab, a hyacinth bean often grown as forage for livestock. However, his application was turned down and he believes CEDA officials did so in bad faith. Following the rejection of his proposal, the 30 year old father of two has revealed how he has been knocking on almost every door of authority in an attempt to have CEDA’s decision overturned, but to no avail.


CHWENE’s THREE YEAR TUG OF WAR WITH CEDA

Baperi Investments has been applying to CEDA since December 2012. He had wanted to start a lablab seed and feed production on 150 hectares on a farm to be purchased in Gulubane. He targeted BAMB for the seed and the cattle farmers in the country for feed. Feed in this instance will be secondary produce as the primary product will be seed. The farm being proposed for purchase is being sold by a syndicate and measures 880 hectares.

The first application was submitted on 04 December 2012 for an amount of P4.080 million. The loan was to broken down as follows:
Farm –                                           1,250,000
Farm house and Barn                      250,000
2 Mortor Vehicles –                         450,384
Tractors and Equipment –               672,910
Fencing                                           165,702
Working Capital                            1,291,004
Total                                              4,080,000

From the above break down, 30% of the loan being sought would go towards purchase of land, and only 17% of this land will be used for production. The working capital will then take 32% of the proposed loan, while 12% would go towards purchase of motor vehicles. Farm equipment and buildings would then take 22% of the loan.


Weekend Post established that the loan was assessed and subsequently closed on the 15 January 2013 and a letter was written to the promoter to this effect.


On the 12 March 2013, Chwene appealed the decision reached by CEDA to close his application due to financial viability. His appeal was then forwarded to the Appeals department to be presided over by the Board of directors. On the 26 April 2013, at the Board of Directors meeting, the Board upheld the Management decision not to approve the loan.


In October 2013, Chwene submitted a reduced application in the amount of P3,881,271. Although the amount of the loan had been slightly reduced, CEDA felt that the scope of the project had not been reduced by much. The amount being sought was basically to be used for the same purposes as the earlier application.


In order to assist Chwene and inform the process CEDA engaged a mentor. The mentor worked with him over a period to assist him with compilation of the proposal and to help with adequately capitalising the project. However, in the end the promoter could still not alter the capitalisation on the land that was not being fully utilised. Consequently as with the first application the application was closed for the same reasons as the earlier one in May 2014.


After this closure Chwene then approached the Client Service Centre, complaining that his submission had not been thoroughly looked at during the last submission. After a series of similar complaints, a decision was taken to retake his submission and review it once more.


At this stage Chwene was referred to the office of the Regional Manager where he was once again taken through the process and the rejection reasons that had culminated in the rejection of the project. It was pointed out to him that the purchase of the land was overcapitalising the project and it would have been ideal if he rented as opposed to buying in the initial stages. He however, pointed out that he had made up his mind and wanted to acquire the property.


He then made a submission on 28 October 2014. At the time he seemed desperate for funding and the submission was incomplete. Chwene was however informed that the application could not be appraised in its current state and he undertook to provide the requisite detail.


Information passed to this publication indicates that Chwene later on approached CEDA with his brother and were met by the Regional Manager where they pleaded that he would avail the rest of the documents and requests that the proposal be looked at.

The documents were subsequently availed, partly with the assistance of the previous mentor and the project was looked at. But because the project still had the burden of the unproductive land, the project remained unfeasible and was once again rejected by the Management Investment Committee in December 2014.

CEDA noted that currently none of the major commercial farmers in Botswana are able to get even 5 tonnes per hectare.  Secondly Maize cannot be harvested 4 times and the promoter has not accounted for losses which usually range between 30 – 40%. Thirdly, the business plan did not account for the whole value chain i.e No provision for transportation, storage and looking at 150 Ha, one needs a typically good enough storage.

CEDA Head of Marketing and Communications Anno Tshipa said they are aware of Mr Chwene’s complaints against the organisation. She advised that they are handling his queries through the established channels at CEDA.

“We have established appeals mechanisms at CEDA presided over by the Board of Directors which is informed by requisite experts,” she said.

According to Tshipa, in the event a promoter is not happy with the outcome of this process the matter can sent to a further appeal where the proposal will be evaluated by outside firms which are experienced on the subject at hand.
 

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“With the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and job training skills, we will be able to help the students living with disabilities to do e-learning and to better their education and job training,” said Chull-Joo Park.

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Tlamelong Rehabilitation serves the marginalized and underserved less privileged persons living with disability in Botswana. The center offers boarding services, vocational training, social services, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for young people living disabilities aged 18-35 from across the country over a period of two (2) years per cohort which has a maximum intake capacity of 35. BRCS through International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have managed to create great working synergy with the South Korean Embassy in Pretoria based in South Africa to support or augment the National Society’s Rehabilitation Centre’s learning challenges.

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