A group of young people are working towards resuscitating community co-operative supermarkets and stores around the country in an effort to promote food and goods production in rural communities.
Speaking in an interview with Okavango Voice this week, Daniel Somolekae, Softsport director, a company behind the programme, revealed that they are already rebuilding Etsha 6 shop to prepare it for re-opening.
“We have made an agreement with the board to allow us to run the stores for a certain period of time, as we can see, we are busy with renovations,” explained the 33- year- old.
The idea to re-build community stores according to Somolekae was hatched during the April 2020 lock down, “When our parents struggled to meet tender demands to supply food and basic staff to communities. We noticed that some chain suppliers deliberately made it hard for small business owners to get the supplies at reasonable prices. They wanted for themselves the monopoly to supply commodities and get tenders from councils.”
With revival of community co-operations, Somolekae says they hope to re-build farming and general production industries and take advantage of free trade in Africa which Botswana government has since entered into with the rest of the region.
“We will be selling mostly local goods, For instance Etsha has fish, so community here can package it so that it is not only sold in Etsha 6 stores but can be transported to other stores outside the region as well. Again we would open market for locally produced goods outside the country,” he added.
So far, Somolekae says, they have travelled around the country to inspect the state of the stores around the country and found out that out of 275 stores, only just around five are operational, Moshupa, Thamaga, Bobonong, Gantsi and Molalatau.
Softspot intends to run Etsha 6 co-op for the next five years before handing it back to the community to run it.
“In teh interim we will be training the community on best marketing and sale techniques so that they will sale through once they are on their own,” further explained Somolekae.