The founding directors of Botswana and JSE-listed retailer, Choppies Enterprises Limited (“Choppies” or “the Company” or “the Group”) backed the Group’s turn-around strategy to the tune of just over P11,000,000.00 million recently.
Messrs. Ramachandran Ottapathu and Ismail Farouk acquired 18 597 724 shares on the open market at an average price of approximately 63 thebe per share on the Botswana Stock Exchange in a slew of transactions at the end of October.
“As a management team, we faced numerous challenges during the past number of years. The retail environment continues to experience headwinds, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. As a significant shareholder and director, I am confident that the worst is behind Choppies and that we’re close to the bottom of the cycle. “Our investment strongly aligns us with shareholders as we now focus on further improving corporate governance and growing profitability,” comments Chief Executive Officer Ramachandran Ottapathu.
The founding directors are currently involved in litigation against the Company’s former auditor and audit partner for delaying the publication of the Company’s audited results following breaches of independence and unlawful changes to the scope of the audit. This resulted in the suspension of trade in the Company’s shares on both the Botswana Stock Exchange (“BSE”) where it holds a primary listing as well as on the JSE Limited (“JSE”).
The JSE lifted the suspension of trade in the Company’s shares, following a similar decision by the BSE in July this year. Botswana based Kwabena Antwi from Kgori Capital says that shareholders will take courage from the fact that the Group is now current on its financial statements, following the BSE’s lifting of the trading suspension.
“Shareholder confidence is usually linked with shareholders returns. Getting Choppies back to an overall profitable position, where they are capable of paying dividends will go a long way in shoring up shareholder confidence. The next phase will focus on implementing governance structures throughout the Group. Some progress has been made, but there is still more to be rolled out,” he says.
At the presentation of the audited financial results for the year ended 30 June 2020, the Company said it has discontinued or disposed of its lossmaking operations in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. This resulted in a once-off loss of approximately P371 million from discontinued operations and an increase in negative equity to P467 million for the financial year ended 30 June 2020.
“The board of Choppies considered the 2021 budgets, detailed cash flow forecasts that were stress tested, as prepared by management, banking facilities and covenants, undertakings of financial support by the founder shareholders, the economic outlook of the countries in which it operates as well as the possible future impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Based on the evidence provided by management, the Board concluded that the Group has already taken the necessary steps to remedy the past situation by discontinuing loss making operations the Company and the Group should be a going concern for the foreseeable future.
“As founder shareholders we remain committed to the turn-around strategy of Choppies, and confident of growing profitability in the short to medium term,” says Ottapathu.
The turnaround at Choppies follows implantation of turnaround strategy to improve corporate governance and exit of underperforming operations in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania
Seventy percent of Botswana is desert, making it one of the world’s least populous nations. Though landlocked, this African nation is teeming with big cats, lions, leopards, and other top predators.
Here is a list of the greatest Botswana safari excursions, ranging from the most luxurious to the most adventurous, and suitable for families with children of all ages.
1. Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is the second largest in Botswana and contains a wide variety of habitats, from savannah and woodland to floodplains and marshland. Chobe is known for its outstanding sunset game viewing on river cruises during unforgettable Botswana safaris.
This is a favourite activity for newlyweds on their honeymoon in Botswana because it provides a great view of the animals as they come down to the watering hole as the sun sets.
Chobe National Park is home to an abundance of animals. In addition to massive herds of elephants and buffalo, you might also see giraffe, kudu, tsessebe, lions, cheetahs, and maybe even leopards in this region.
2. The Okavango Delta
The emerald delta, considered by many to be Africa’s most beautiful region, spreads across an area of approximately 15,000 square kilometres (5,000 square miles) during the rainy season, transforming the landscape into a network of winding channels, lagoons filled with lilies, and islands of verdant vegetation.
Elephants, buffalo, and giraffe, as well as lions, hyenas, and even rare wild dogs, can all be found in this safe refuge for wildlife during Botswana safaris. The semi-aquatic red lechwe antelope is abundant here, and birdwatchers won’t be dissatisfied.
3. The Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a vast semiarid landscape in southern Africa, covering an area of approximately a million square kilometers and covered in a rust-red landscape.
Since most of the locals are San Bushmen, this is an ideal destination for those in search of solitude alongside and enriching cultural experience.
All thanks to the rains, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve undergoes some of the most astonishing terrain shifts on the planet. In the desert, lakes form temporarily, then marshy areas develop, and then the ground dries up again.
Large herds of impala, zebra, and oryx attract predators like the famed black-maned lions, who come to drink as the water level rises.
4. Makgadikgadi Pans
Observe the surreal vistas of the Makgadikgadi Pans, where salt sparkles in the sun for as far as the eye can reach, for a change of pace. The largest salt pans in the world can be found in the Kalahari, which was once covered by a lake the size of Switzerland millions of years ago.
Stone Age remains coexist with fossil-rich beaches and old baobab trees. The vultures just add to the atmosphere of mystery.
Because of the extreme conditions, the local fauna is migratory and extremely tough. Makgadikgadi is home to a variety of unique desert creatures, including the aardvark, aardwolf, brown hyenas, and meerkats.
5. Moremi Wildlife Reserve
Moremi is a system of rivers teeming with lily pads, hippos, and a beautiful array of colorful birdlife (about 500 species), and is widely considered to be one of Africa’s most diversified wildlife sites.
Herbivore herds are also widespread, and it is not uncommon to see elephants drinking at the water’s edge. The superb predator sightings that come with such an abundance of prey are exciting, but the black and white rhino that wander the area are perhaps even more so.
Letshego Holding Limited (Letshego Group) has officially launched the LetsGo Digital Mastery Programme at an event held at Masa Protea Hotel in Gaborone. This follows their recent recruitment campaign for 10 candidates across Botswana, where over 1,000 applicants applied for the programme.
The Letshego Group is a truly African multinational organisation committed to achieving social impact through its retail financial services strategy across 11 sub Saharan markets. Letshego first opened its doors in Botswana 23 years ago and today has over 3,000 employees including Direct Sales Agents, or “Digital Eagles”.
Letshego customers include individuals, as well as micro and small entrepreneurs (MSEs). Letshego Holdings Limited (holding company) is listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, with subsidiary listing on the Namibian stock exchange. Presence markets include Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Eswatini, Lesotho, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana
Following the rigorous selection process of the candidates. 15 brilliant minds were announced for the enrolment in the programme, compromising 10 members of the public and 5 Letshego employees from across its 11 country footprint. This is part of Letshego’s people-first strategy that aims to build future-fit communities where digital or tech is used as a strategic enabler for growth and economic development.
“Today we confirm the successful candidates for Letshego’s inaugural LetsGo Digital Mastery Programme, as you are our first COHORT of Digital Associates to our Digital mastery Programme in the region, you will be trail blazing a path and setting the standards for our future cohorts in Botswana, as well as our next Mastery cohorts set to launch in other Markets,” said Letshego’s Group Chairman Enos Banda.
Qualifying applicants demonstrated foundational digital expertise, and a passion to expand their aptitude into digital financial skills and hands on regional experience within the swiftly evolving financial sector.
“By 2100 one in a three people will be African- this means that by the end of this century, our region, Sub Saharan Africa, will be home to almost half of the young people on the globe. Finding innovative ways to empower fellow Africans with digital and entrepreneurial skills will not only build future leaders but also support future economic growth”, said Banda.
Recruitment was managed by Letshego’s education and leadership training partner, ‘Fast Forward innovation’ compromising a world class approach with a series of exercises, tests and interviews. Psychometric assessment were used to measurable, objective data and comprehensive view of suitability, enabling scientific credibility and objectivity in the selection process.
In congratulating the candidates Banda said that they are excited to welcome the 15 bright young individuals to LetsGo and they look forward to seeing them flourish and grow in to tomorrow’s bright young leaders. Banda further added that these Digital Associates have managed to navigate and process through a thorough and intense selection and today they are awarded their tickets to a journey that is destined and designed to open doors and dynamic opportunities for personal growth to ultimately brighten their future
This was followed by practical projects where candidates were introduced to Agile Methodology and tested on their digital ideas, personal planning and ability to deliver. Finally, the candidates were taken through a series of interviews with Letshego Executives to discuss potential, verify experience, qualifications, drive and organisational fit.
Letshego’s Intern Group Chief Executive Aupa Monyatsi added that The LetsGo Digital Mastery Programme is a unique way they are extending the benefits of digital transformation outside of their organisation. “Though this programme we are supporting the Botswana Government’s objective to build a knowledge-based economy, as well as empowering individuals with entrepreneurial mindsets and skills to spur sustainable and innovative development to grow future leaders and benefit our nation,” Monyatsi concluded.
The 18-months LetsGo Digital Mastery includes a practical learning sponsorship worth over P500, 000 per candidate to develop a digital business idea through training and practical learning. The candidate will gain expertise and become confident digital leaders with international exposure. At the end of the programme, the candidates will be enabled to grow innovative digital ideas from the sand box and ideation phase to a minimum viable product and to grow and scale existing business ideas by harnessing digital technologies.
On Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) will hold breakfast seminars with the banking and financial services sectors to engage on data protection and cyber security issues.
The aim of the seminars is to create awareness about the impending Data Protection Act (2018) and how BoFiNet can partner with the industry to assist them to comply with the Act. During the engagement sessions, the Data Protection Commissioner, Ms. Kepaletswe Somolekae will address the industry on the Data Protection Act, which came into effect in October 2021; and a grace period of 12 months was given to persons and organisations that have custodianship of personal data, to ready themselves to comply with the Act.
This grace period comes to an end in October this year. Another speaker at the event, Mr. Chris Johnson of African Cyber Security, will share with the attendees, the latest trends and insights on cyber security in Africa.
BoFiNet will also share with the stakeholders an update on the data centre project currently being undertaken by BoFiNet at Botswana Innovation Park in Block 8. Known as Digital Delta, the data centre is a 1,000sqm, 400-rack vendor-neutral facility that BoFiNet will complete later this year, that will provide colocation and Internet Exchange Point (IXP) solutions for the local market.
BoFiNet is a wholesale provider of telecommunications and ICT services to licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Value Added Network Service Providers, Public Telecommunications Operators in Botswana and internationally. The company owns and operates the largest fibre network infrastructure in Botswana.