Lecturer swaps English for theatre
Connie Rapoo was once an English lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) but has since changed lanes to become the country’s first homegrown Associate Professor of Theatre Arts.
She is also the first female to assume the role.
Growing up as a bubbly child in Tlokweng, Rapoo developed a fondness for the arts and intuitively knew it was where she belonged.
During her school days she performed dismally in Sciences and Mathematics but excelled at English.
“I started [at UB] as a Staff Development Fellow in August, 1997. I was in the English Department at that time. As an SDF, you teach one course at the university before you go for your Masters programme,” Rapoo revealed, adding she was engaged in the department’s Linguistics section.
The following year, Rapoo left for chillier climates, enrolling for a Masters in Language Studies at Lancaster University, United Kingdom. Her lectureship continued when she returned to Botswana, teaching in the English department from 1998 to 2003.
However, she felt ‘thoroughly misplaced’.
“I felt like ‘No, I’m not a linguist.’ I loved Pragmatics, I loved Discourse Analysis but it wasn’t me. So I applied for a sectional transfer to Theatre.
When I went to do my PhDat the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) it was in Theatre. I was able to get in because my transcripts had courses in Theatre and Drama.
So at PhD level, that’s when I knew I was a Theatre person. That’s when I decided TO specialisE in Theatre: I love this, I want this, I’m getting this!”
And indeed she did.
Rapoo’s thesis was titled‘Figures of Sacrifice: Africa In Transnational Imaginary’ and took five years to complete, from 2003 to 2008.
To become an Associate Professor at UB, a prerequisite is to have 8 to 12 papers published in renowned journals in the continent.
“You need to have a spread of publications. I didn’t want to take any chance so when I got in, I had 13. You have to have a mixture of journal articles, book chapters, books and any other forms of writing,” Rapoo explained, noting on top of the articles she has five book chapters and two books.
“More emphasis lies on the journal articles because they contain the latest discoveries in one’s field,” she added.
Rapoo admits that although it is rewarding, her profession is also demanding and at times lonely. “One has to carry work home and make regular trips abroadto international conferences alone.”
Despite this, the multi-talented woman has high hopes of rising even further up the career ladder.
“ I definitely want to get promoted.
So I have to be writing more papers so that I get promotion to become a full professor.
But I am not under as much pressure as I was before I reached the rank of Associate Professor.
I intend to look in this direction now of writing more plays because I am a playwright as well.”
Local economy to register modest growth
The local economy is yet again forecast to register moderate growth this year driven by stabilization in the diamond market.
The projections were made by a local investment manager, Kgori Capital in its Fourth Quarter Insights Report.
It is forecast that the local economy will expand by 3.5 percent for the fiscal year 2019 and by 4.0 in 2019 driven mainly by stabilization in the diamond sector.
The sector, which is the mainstay of the economy accounting for over 80 percent of the total country exports faired terribly last year when international sales fell drastically.
Now, the sector is anticipated to pick up slightly this year after a challenging 2019 in which sales dropped badly.
When delivering the budget proposals for the financial year 2020/2021, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr. Thapelo Matsheka indicated that the proposals were presented against the backdrop of continued uncertainty in the global economy.
He specifically mentioned that the continued tension between the United States of America (USA) and China, being the two major markets for Botswana diamonds continue to undermine the country’s economic performance in general and the fiscal position in particular.
Matsheka indicated that this calls for fast-tracking of measures to promote diversified exports to reduce the impact of external shocks on the domestic economy.
While Kgori anticipates the domestic economy to register 4.0 in 2020, the finance ministry, on the other hand, predicts a different figure.
Matsheka expects the domestic economy to continue to register positive growth despite some challenges arising from the weak and uncertain global economic environment.
He says the local economy id estimated to have grown by 3.6 percent in 2019 and to reach 4.4 percent in 2020 driven by faster growth in the services sector.
Meanwhile, Kgori Capital has noted in its report that it expects the central bank, Bank of Botswana to apply another bank rate cut in the first half of this year in order to spur economic activity.
Last year during its August Monetary Policy Meeting (MPC), the central bank cut the rate to a record low, slashing it by 25 basis points from 5 percent to 4.75 percent in an unexpected move after experts warned the rate was already low leaving BoB with little space to maneuver.
According to the Kgori Insights report, the August 2019 rate cut was effected in order to support growth as the bank now feels expectations of stable and low inflation are well anchored.
Time to strike!
Nako Timepieces ticking to the top
Since setting up shop in October 2018, business for local watch brand Nako Timepiece has been ticking along nicely.
Famous for its exceptional quality, the up-market product, which sells for P3, 500, is the brainchild of business partners, Gabriel Mothibedi and Tirafalo Otlhogile.
Speaking to Voice Money recently, Mothibedi revealed the enterprise has undergone exciting new developments, including the launch of subsidiary brands.
“We have two other subsidiaries being Nako Corporate where we have corporate packages and offer businesses gifts for milestone celebrations and other events. We have done that for Debswana, for instance, when they were celebrating their 50th anniversary. The watches we produced for them were unique for such,” said Mothibedi, a Design Strategist by profession.
The company has also introduced Nako Foundation, a charity-like organisation dedicated to helping underprivileged Batswana.
“The process is always to establish the company first, build it and make profits and afterwards see how to benefit others. It becomes problematic if you have the desire when you start the company and immediately try to help others,” noted Mothibedi, adding he feels Nako Timepieces are finally in a position where they can extend a helping hand to those in need.
The watchmakers have also sealed a partnership with Monsieur – a high-end clothes shop which will stock Nako timepieces.
“Brand partnerships really build depending on what you want you achieve. We are going to take our watches to different stores in Botswana, outside Botswana and to the world because right now we don’t want to be dealing with retail ourselves,” explained Mothibedi, adding the Monsieur partnership is the first of many to come.
The Nako co-owner announced their intention to establish an assembly factory in Botswana but stressed that production would still take place in Switzerland.
“We want at least the straps to be fitted in Botswana and eventually the watches will be made here as well because we are looking to partner with those guys in Switzerland to come and set up in Botswana,” said Mothibedi, who told Voice Money they have already established offices in South Africa, London and New York
He is confident hundreds of jobs will be created once an assembly factory is set up in Botswana, predicting the number will double once a full production facility is established.
When quizzed on the high price charged for one of their watches, Mothibedi revealed they plan to launch a cheaper version soon.
“We are going to introduce a new product which will cater for a segment which has not been catered for before. There are people who would want to own the collection but are currently put-off by the price. Introducing more affordable ones will give everyone an opportunity to own Nako Timepieces.”
However, he maintained that the quality will remain the same but the new ones will be slimmer.
“We will maintain the same level of quality, durability because the issue here is about demographic profiles,” he concluded.
Local is lekker!
LEA showcase home-grown businesses
The Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) recently hosted members of the media on a two-day tour covering Bobonong, Molalatau and Selibe Phikwe.
The idea was to showcase some of the enterprises supported by LEA and to document their journeys to date.
SANCTIFIED DELIGHTS BAKERY
Nestled deep in Bobonong’s Dandane ward, with the Matshekge Hill looming large in the background, the bakery is famous for its fresh bread and fancy cakes.
Now in its third year of existence, the business has risen impressively since 29-year-old Botsile Moreba first set-up shop, baking pre-ordered cakes from home.
Desperate to expand his business, Moreba approached the
Youth Development Fund (YDF), who backed the young entrepreneur to the tune of P97, 000.
The brilliant baker then sought the assistance of LEA, who helped Moreba write-up a detailed business plan, which he submitted to CEDA in 2018.
The agency’s response came back positive, along with a P700, 000 loan, spent on bigger, better equipment.
Part of LEA’s support included holding workshops at the bakery, training Moreba and his eight staff members on the importance of customer service, manufacturing practices and record keeping.
Sanctified Delights’ customer base consists of individuals, schools, tuck shops, Bobonong Cooperative as well as catering for private functions, such as weddings and parties.
A loaf costs P6 while buns sell for P1 each. The enterprise has a daily capacity of 800 loaves, depending on orders and walk-in customers.
Open seven days a week, on average Moreba rakes in P75, 000 every month.
However, despite the impressive numbers, it is not all plain sailing.
“Some of the challenges are that we cannot get a bigger space where we can operate the business. Also the government pays us late even though we always submit invoices well in time. We agreed on a maximum period of two weeks but it does not happen that way!” grumbled Moreba, who inherited his love of cooking from his mother.
LIT-SHINE CHEMICAL SOLUTIONS PTY LTD
Based in Selibe Phikwe’s Industrial location, the company specialises in cleaning detergents, manufacturing a range of products, including: pine gel, dishwashing liquid, car and carpet shampoos, multi purpose cleaner and pool acid.
The operation is the brainchild of 34-year-old Maiteko Morapetsane, a Geologist forced to find alternative income when the BCL mine closed in 2016.
After spotting a local advert seeking incubators to train in Toilet Roll Manufacturing, Morapetsane decided to try something similar, focusing on cleaning detergents.
At the start of 2018, the Semotswane native enrolled on a two-month training course run by LEA.
The courses covered included: Sales and Marketing, Business Plan Development and Business Formalisation (EDD).
LEA also ensured Morapetsane received valuable exposure at various Trade Shows and Buyer Seller seminars across the country.
By August of that year, Morapetsane received P99, 000 funding from the YDF, starting production in February 2019.
His market clientele is predominantly made up of guesthouses, lodges, schools and individuals.
Having celebrated its first anniversary this month, business is building slowly, with current monthly sales of P20, 000 compared to expenses of P14, 000.
As a micro-starter, LEA intends to help Morapetsane upgrade to a higher level, which in turn will mean he can add to his current staff contingent of two.
KOHITA INVESTMENT PTY LTD
Still in its infancy, Kohita Investment was founded by retired 50-year-old teacher, Hilary Koodirile, last November.
Situated in Selibe Phikwe, Bamangwato Industrial, the enterprise offers a range of cereals, such as: sorghum, lebelebele, korong and maize.
“My intention is to produce healthy food with fibre as there is a noticeable shortage of fibre-based foods. We produce Ntlatlawane, Lebelebele and Mosutlhane. I am targeting schools, hospitals, shops, prisons and individuals,” explained the former Food and Nutrition and Fashion and Fabrics teacher, who counts Palapye Technical College and Mahalapye Brigade amongst her previous employers.
As the organisation battles to gain a foothold in the market, Koodirile admits being a new company has its drawbacks, with shops buying her products at ‘very low prices’.
“They control our prices as manufactures and we end up just giving them because we do not have enough market!”
The company’s best sellers include: Bopi jwa Korong, with a 5kg bag selling for P60, maize meal at P45 for 5kg and chicken feed at P35 for 5kg.
TRUST RADIATOR CLINIC
50-year-old Ketaroma Moshe is an expert at repairing radiators and is successfully eeking out a living in what is stereotypically considered a male-dominated profession. Her ‘Radiator Clinic’ also specialises in refining brake shoes and pads, skimming cylinder heads and grinding valves.
Moshe started her business in July 2016, with LEA taking her under its wing the following year after she approached the Authority at the Selibe Phikwe Trade Show. Since then, Moshe has completed a number of LEA-run courses and holds certificates in Process Improvement, Technology Awareness, Occupational Health and Safety among others.
Based in Phikwe, where she is up against two similar enterprises, Moshe welcomes the competition.
“Sometimes we belittle ourselves as women but everything is driven by passion. When I started people thought I would not make it, especially after the BCL mine closed. However, it didn’t affect me too much as the mine did not bring much income into my business. Instead, it is local garages and individual customers who make my business to survive,” said Moshe, who completed her two-year Junior Certificate back in 1988.
She dreams of becoming the first manufacturer of brake shoes and pads in the area, items that are currently only produced in South Africa.