NEW BEGINNING: Business Botswana president and his CEO hug to mark the future
Business Botswana is the new name of what has, for the past 46 years, been known as BOCCIM (Botswana Confederations of Commerce and Manpower).
A special general meeting of BOCCIM met this week on Wednesday at Cresta Lodge, where the body resolved to effect a name change and to adopt a new constitution that would be in line with the expanded mandate of the organisation.
The thinking behind the name change and constitution, according to Maria Machailo-Ellis, is to bring greater functionality and as well as improved governance and efficiency at the giant employer association.
Business Botswana, the redressed new organisation was this week, inaugurated as the apex body of business associations in the country, carrying the mantle as an employer body and a chamber of commerce.
BOCCIM, a business association of employers representing all sectors of the Botswana economy in an advocacy capacity, was formed in 1971 and registered under the Trade Unions and Employers’ Act No. 23 of 1983.
During the fact finding process, it was found that members are unhappy with the organisation, for several reasons, including irregular information to them from BOCCIM. The members complained of no feedback on meetings with Government. Members also found it difficult to get hold of BOCCIM management and lobbyists.
It is felt in some quarters, that the reputation of the organisation suffered irreparable damage from the scandalous fracas that ensured in 2013, between the then president Alex Monchusi and the chief executive at the secretariat, Maria Machailo Ellis.
Some are not convinced by the effectiveness of the advocacy performed by BOCCIM saying that: “BOCCIM is not needed to push agenda of our members; we have direct access”
They say that even with the High Level Consultative Committee (HLCC), which is a brainchild of BOCCIM, the body still has limited influence on Government decisions.
Not enough advocacy on important issues such as work permit restrictions, while BOCCIM is spread too thin, with too many other functions, losing focus as a result.
BOCCIM was accused of not structuring collaboration with associations and not consulting, prior to meetings.
“BOCCIM does not ask what our priorities are,” was a member’s response during the fact finding exercise.
It was also alluded, by some members, that the business community is “too political.”
The situation with regards to existing business associations is that there are a few bigger ones, and many small bodies that often have no secretariat and are not always member of BOCCIM. These associations suffer challenges such as non payment membership fees. The associations mostly focus on lobbying but offer very little in the way of few services.
The body of experts recommended that the momentum of in the formation of an APEX body be used to bring forth a change of name. BOCCIM was advised to Create a new, shorter mission statement that is in line with role of an apex body. The constitution was to be brought in line with role as APEX body, to decentralise and give more weight to associations.
With regards to governance, Council members will now come from associations and Regions must be represented in Council. However, large corporations will be afforded the opportunity to be members without their associations.
However, it was recommended that there should be no rush in creating regional Chambers of Commerce, but need for nationwide presence.
BOCCIM notes some successes and achievements over the years, including: Organising the business sector to be a major player in the formulation of many national economic issues; Initiated the debate on the need for “A Long-Term Vision for Botswana”; Establishment and institutionalisation of the HLCC in 1996; initiating the Privatisation Policy for Botswana; getting Government to agree to the payment of a delayed payment penalty of 1.5 percent per month to the private sector and for nationalizing the debate on Citizen Economic Empowerment, among others.
HOW THE NAME WAS CHOSEN The name Business Botswana was in pitted against another shortlisted name in Botswana Chamber of commerce. However, a now defunct organization named Botswana Chamber of Commerce was formed and started to compete with BOCCIM but could not withstand the test of time.
Internal and external stakeholders were engaged to get their views, with BOCCIM feeling they were comfortable with the current name while the business community felt a name change was necessary.
Machailo Eliss also said Chambers of commerce are often run by Governments and BOCCIM has always done well to stay independent of Government and adopting the name would have cast aspersions on the independence of BOCCIM.
“The role of employer organisation still remains and need to be embraced. Chamber of Commerce is synonymous with the role of an oganisation that serves as a government agent.”
“Nowadays, the trend around the world is that business associations are aligning themselves to the mandate of business. There is more focus on competitiveness of member companies. They have rebranded and changed their names to reflect the focus on business; Business New Zealand, Business Unity South Africa, Business Africa and others,” said Machailo–Ellis.
Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.
The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands. It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.
The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”
The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.
He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business. “Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.
As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.
The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.
“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.
Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.
The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies. “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.
The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.