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Cresta helps schools combat the pandemic

Hotel, tourism and hospitality group Cresta Marakanelo Limited has donated over 2000 masks to Matlapana Primary School in Maun and Chobe Community Junior Secondary School in Kasane to help in the fight against COVID-19 in less privileged communities.

The growing numbers of COVID- 19 cases amongst schools, students and teachers has led Cresta to act swiftly in providing the much-needed resources to help protect the learning environment. Chobe Community Junior Secondary School and Matlapana Primary School are the first beneficiaries of the initiative which is expected to be rolled out nationwide.

“This is not just a fight for our economic revival and our lives. This is a fight for our future. Children are our best chance for hope. Our assurance for a tomorrow rests with them and their survival. The donation of these masks is our way of helping communities in the country during this difficult period. Schools are faced with the challenge of providing enough essential items such as sanitizers, washbasins and more for their students.”

‘‘Cresta is committed to playing its part in making sure that the virus does not penetrate any further in the learning environment. We are in this fight together and it is important that we protect students and teachers; augment Government’s efforts in fighting this pandemic,” notes Cresta Marakanelo Limited Managing Director Mokwena Morulane.

This donation is made possible through the collaboration between the hotel chain and Contemporary Linen. Both schools expressed gratitude towards the donation they received, stating that it was already a challenge to provide every student with a face mask and other required resources that are used to protect one from the COVID- 19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for Cresta’s support to help us create a safe environment in our schools and offices. These critical supplies, combined with basic safety precautions, such as regular hand-washing and social distancing, will help protect our teachers, students, and their families,” stated a combined statement from Chobe Community Junior Secondary School and Matlapana Primary School.

In the coming weeks Cresta will be focusing on academic institutions in Francistown and Gaborone. Cresta was one of the first hotels to provide its facilities in Gaborone and Francistown to the Government for quarantine purposes during the critical stages of the Republic’s battle with the pandemic in March this year.

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The Workplace Paradigm Shift in African Financial Services

25th September 2020
Face Masks required

As the economy deals with the effects of the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, decisive strategies are required to gear up businesses for the future and make them agile enough to survive the challenging times.

Companies have suffered from retrenchments, revenue losses and cash flow declines which have forced them to revisit their strategies and prioritise business resilience more than ever. Both the local and global uncertain economic conditions will still persist long after the pandemic is over; however, it’s the businesses and sectors that respond swiftly and in a sustainable manner that will come out strong on the other side.

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do things. The little things we took for granted, such as chats in the common areas and the last-minute brainstorms to solve a crisis had to be limited and to some extent were completely absent. As the world continues to deal with the spread of the virus, stringent regulations will remain for the short-term, resulting in restricted movement even within the workplace. Given where we find ourselves at the moment, industries have been initiating conversations on what the future of the workplace will look like in the short to medium-term.

Changing the way we do business as a sector is, therefore, not only an opportunity but an inevitable necessity. Companies are recognising the increasing importance of workplace innovation as the shape and form of the prescribed workplace are starting to change. The Pandemic has demonstrated that work can occur anywhere, as long as employees are capacitated with the appropriate equipment, infrastructure and support. Business leaders who do not adapt to this change will find themselves out of the loop as workplace culture rapidly changes course. But this change will require a paradigm shift in terms of workplace dynamics while prioritising the wellbeing of employees.

As businesses figure out what the new workplace will be, it is vital for them to strive for a balance of seeking optimal outcomes from their employees as they work from home while remaining human in a technologically driven work environment. During the last few months, businesses discovered that technological advancements are not the enemy but rather the biggest barrier is the difficulty of integrating employees with these technologies. As such, human capital departments will find themselves evaluating how people adapt, behave and work within these newly formed ecosystems while ensuring meaningful, connected interactions still occur in the workplace.

In order to successfully and efficiently implement remote workplace strategies, all businesses from the smallest to the largest corporates would have to consider several challenges:

  • As working remotely has not been a normal concept for many people, structural changes may have to take place. Setting up a home workstation and ensuring stable connection is now paramount.
  • Organisations need to assess if all employees are able to create a conducive environment, especially where employees are living with extended family and may encounter various distractions.
  • Leaders will need to adjust to a new way of managing employees that does not require monitoring. This is an opportunity for growth of employees as businesses foster more independence.
  • With independence comes great responsibility. Employees will have to discipline themselves to avoid temptations inherent to working remotely, such as waking up and getting ready to ensure productivity rather than lounging in pyjamas all day.
  • Communication is now more important than ever. Employees and managers need to adjust their expectations and communicate them efficiently. Providing clear, frequent communication and is also crucial to keep up morale.
  • Clear Human Capital guidelines have to be put in place, adapting to remote working practices. It is important for employees to understand that working remotely is still working and should be treated as such.

Working during a global pandemic is a new experience for everyone, and it has added an extra layer of stress for most people. As industries continue to invest money, time and efforts to ensure the equipment and infrastructure are efficient, what remains critical is how they show up to for their people; therefore, one cannot overlook the need for empathy, especially during the tough times. While employees continue to play their part in ensuring the success of the business, management needs to extend themselves and create an environment where employees are able to communicate any challenges they may be facing and know that they will be afforded the necessary opportunity to deal with off-duty obligations, as well as get sufficient rest and recovery. Businesses need to be clear and deliberate in their approach to promoting employee well-being, as the health and well-being of their people are and will always be crucial to the success of the business.

The Coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact and shape how we see the workplace in the future, be it working remotely, flexible working hours or integrating more virtual engagements instead of face-face. Due to the current market condition, it’s imperative for business leaders to evaluate their organisation’s operations and strategic goals in order to determine how they adapt to the changes that have been brought about by the pandemic but also, how they continue to thrive and achieve long-term sustainability.

Human Capital Department, BancABC.

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Creating Botswana’s Next Value Frontiers

24th September 2020
Tuelo Botlhole

Many economists have published detailed models about how steep a curve the movement from middle income status to high status is.

The middle-income trap has left many cabinets and high-powered delegations of experts drawing economic formulas that have left nothing beyond growing bodies of theory and a few actions that have delivered the much sought-after value. Emerging markets still remain emerging markets – a status quo long predicted to remain as such for many lifetimes.  A few countries have broken away from the middle-income barriers since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Our republic has been having the same debate for more than a generation whilst our economic diversification debate is still on full steam.

As we confront a changing world and new realities we have to answer difficult questions about where we are and where we are going. As a predominantly import economy, how much value do we derive from this economic model versus in-country capacity building in manufacturing? How is the balance of trade between our exports and our imports?  Which value frontiers remain untapped? What can give a genuine jump into a high-income economy? How do we get over the – ‘we are better than most adage and complacency?’  How can our natural endowments be the spring board of international competitiveness? What happens when basic goods run dry because exporters cannot even meet their own home demand?

As a construction industry player, I dream of a belt of vast factories – strong primary industries that mushroom from our cities and towns from Ramokgwebana to Charles Hill and beyond – giving beam and life to our people. Skills are harnessed, transferred and shared with our people as we forge a winning coalition of elevating our country beyond what we are and where we are now.  I remember the pride of our fathers when they came back from mines back in the yester years, the mere pride of using their own hands and skills in productivity.  They understood their contribution in the value chain. In Selibe Phikwe the ‘unending smoke’ from the BCL Mine represented life for the town and its people. A strong sense of nostalgia and a blend of emotions drew tears for many when for the first time in two generations the smoke failed to rise to the skies. The clear skies were symbolic of the new era a new time and a new reality – all minerals are finite. They are abundant today and they are depleted tomorrow.

Nkosi Mwaba, the former Botswana Export and Manufacturers Association Chairman (BEMA) and the current Chairman of Association Entrepreneurs Botswana (AEB) in a recent documentary commented on the pride of strong, local, vibrant manufacturing sector within our shores. “The global value chain can still be fully optimised for a strong manufacturing backbone in our country. We can support existing local manufactures to compete, increase their quality models and have sufficient capacity to cater for our economy and export. I worked for Bolux, they mastered their raw materials, where they source them at competitive rates, created a strong human capital base and today they do not only supply Botswana they supply the region,” says Mwaba.

Many global case studies support this. Germany was resilient in the 2008 global recession because of small enterprises that are a major contributor to the economy. The recession which changed the economic perking order in Europe acknowledged Germany is a supreme economy which was almost insulated when the global economy weaned in horror.

The rise of nationalism is a wave that is sweeping across different nation-states globally.  Exacerbated by the new reality of Covid-19 our regional trade is slowly creating a ‘one man for himself’ atmosphere. One of the senior Executive Managers Teedzani Majaula at Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) asked a question. “What happens when South Africa closes its borders to us? What happen when they switch off their power, fuel and food produce? We have to reach a burning platform which will drive and trigger action,”

His assertions go beyond the normal free market economics argued by the ‘old school’ of markets and economics. The argument of raw materials, cost of production and natural endowments may be a to an extent hindrance towards stabilising critical tenets of our economy and day to day livelihoods for the long term. Israel is one of the largest exporters of produce with a climate similar to ours because of the huge numbers of scientists per capital in the country. What may have been dismissed as bear lands and desert terrains is at the centre of harvesting and exporting thousands of tonnes of produce per year.

The new economic model should look into how much of the import bill should be diverted towards the growth of local manufacturers across different industries. Where there is capacity there is no need for imports where there is a shortage there can be a balanced trade-off which includes imports to mitigate shortages. Moatlholdi Sebabole argues that there has to be a balance between increasing local capacity and disturbing FDIs for the broader health of our GDP. “Any form of protectionism may trigger unwanted circumstances in attracting FDIs. There has to be a well-managed narrative in terms of how this is structured,” he argues.

“Establishment of industries is built on assumptions, the access to raw materials at reasonable costs, labour markets that can deliver value, creation the entire value chain considers the profitability and the profitability growth. Going against this grain in hope of support may trigger unwanted circumstances. However, when the quality of products is good the Government can protect those good,” notes Majaule.

For PPC Botswana, the burning platform has always been how the local manufacturer which used local fly ash from Morupule B for years before the arrangement changed can continue employing Batswana.

The quarries in Kgale, Francistown and Mokolodi are part of a value chain which has strong downstream industry beneficiation. The plant at Gaborone West Industrial are a chemical process of cement production which has emboldened and empowered local applied chemistry experts, chemical engineering gurus amongst others. That entire value is lost when the emphasis is on imports at the expense of establishing a full operation. Materials used in blasting rocks, the people behind the science, the expertise and the blending process of cement drives the conversation about having globally competitive assets that can compete in any part of the globe as outlined by the vision of the National Human Resource Development Strategy. With over BWP120 million paid in taxes, imagine how big an impact the cement industry can be if all players had set up shop in-country.

A lot of good quality players have not seen enough of sunlight in many manufacturing industries, not because they cannot compete but because the products and services which were tailored for the market were overlooked for goods and services from far away. When FDIs come into Botswana they should have different strategic options of setting up not just green field where they start from scratch, they should have options of licensing, joint ventures and buying out local players. This will give a huge return to local players and their shareholders.  Indonesia has introduced industry protection for the same reasons. The Motor industry in South Africa is protected against grey imports. In Zimbabwe the cost of importing attracts 100% duty for specific goods which are available in-country.

Our philosophy of supporting local enterprise development, community building and CSI projects for SMMEs is our step of demonstrating that true value should include how players impact and influence SMMEs.  We have been part of the community growth and development with our signature rising buildings across the country, a testament to our quality management process. For close to half a century our buildings still stand.  Matsiloje, PPC and other local manufacturers have good products, the only thing left is for us to answer the question -what do we want to be. An import economy or a vibrant force of nature that is self-sustaining no matter what?

We are at a crossroads, if sings of Covid-19 are anything to go buy, the future of our manufacturing sector is buying local and enhancing capacity of our home-brewed brands. The avenues for new value frontiers are available. The question is -are we bold enough to take the vital steps to make it happen?

*Dumisani Ncube is Digital Executive at PR Practice

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ARC – Register of Registered Architectural Professionals

14th September 2020
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