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A wealth of potential

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A wealth of potential

LLR CEO expresses confidence in local property market

Real estate giant’s Letlole La Rona (LLR) has expressed confidence in the local property market amid fears it is becoming saturated.

Speaking to Voice Money this week, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa insisted there was still potential for growth in the market, in particular in the retail sub-sector.

Early last year, LLR sold the four hotels it owned to Cresta Marakanelo, which had previously been leasing the properties.

While this impacted on LLR’s portfolio diversity, Mutiswa maintains the business is now ‘back on track’.

Appointed to the role of CEO in May 2018, Mutiswa’s first assignment was to oversee the sale of the hotels.

Having successfully achieved this, his focus is now on growing the company above the usual practice of simply ‘delivering dividends’.

“We have managed to sell the hotels and what has now happened is that we decided to do two things. The first is to double down on the industrial property space, which is a our biggest competitive advantage. We are the largest institutional industrial investor here in Botswana,” stressed the CEO.

Secondly, Mutiswa says LLR will target the retail space, a strategy they have already started with the recent acquisition of Watershed Mall in Mahalapye.

“We are involved in developments including one retail mall here in Gaborone and we will be announcing it shortly. Previously our only retail exposure was the Blue Jacket Street in Francistown where we had a one-third partnership.”

Mutiswa further explained that as the economy develops, the key component of Botswana’s GDP comes from consumers.

“As such, there is still huge potential in the retail space!” he reiterated, downplaying the notion the country has more shopping malls than it needs.

“If you are a property investor and you stay by the sidelines and say Botswana right now is saturated in terms of the retail space, you will miss the boat because 10 years back this was also the belief.”

Additionally, Mutiswa revealed LLR plan to quit the residential space imminently.

“We have one residential unit. It consists of 42 apartments and we find that it is management intensive. That asset is valued at P43 million out of the balance sheet right now of P1 billion, which is around four percent of the total portfolio.”

Although insignificant, in terms of administration Mutiswa says the property takes up around 50 percent of the company’s time.

“It is likely we will be looking to dispose of that particular asset and we do not expect to venture back into the residential market,” stated Mutiswa, adding LLR will remain focused on industrial, retail and office space.

In relation to office space, he says they will concentrate on the new Gaborone Central Business District (CBD) ‘as that is where most businesses are moving to’.

As LLR’s portfolio continues to grow locally, Mutiswa says the organisation is now considering investment opportunities outside the country.

“If you look at the other five listed property companies, it is only LLR which doesn’t have regional exposure.”

He points out the company has made significant inroads and the expectation is to close a regional expansion transaction during the course of this year.

“It has taken a bit longer than we would have liked. In a way that is positive because in any investment, what determines the profit or return on investment is not the quality of the asset or income you get from that asset, it is the price at which you got it!” he noted.

According to Mutiswa, the company is looking at markets such as South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

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IDM’s Richard Malikongwa and Dr Onalenna Seitio-Kgokgwe receive top awards

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Richard Malikongwa, a seasoned Human Resource and Corporate guru who serves as IDM Regional Director and Chief Executive, was bestowed with the highest award of the Congress of “Chief Executive Officer with Human Resource Orientation”, while Botswana Country Director, Dr Onalenna Seitio-Kgokgwe received the Women Super Achiever Award.

Dr Seitio-Kgokgwe is also a recipient of the 2018/2019 Global CEO Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards.

The two Executives are commended for steering transformation at IDM and taking the Institution to higher levels as evidenced by amongst others; the Institute’s exponential growth and deliberate focus on people, since assuming their roles in 2016.

Chairperson of the Institute of Development Management, Governing Body and Director of Public Service Management Naledi Mosalakatane has commended the duo for the achievement.

Mosalakatane says IDM Board and Staff are proud of their sterling job of steering IDM to greater heights, further delivering excellent results.

According to the Founder of World Sustainability Congress, Dr R. Bhatia, the CEO with HR Orientation is the highest accolade which recognizes a Chief Executive in the global scene who employs the right combination of interventions to drive business performance, who is authentic and people oriented, and aligns his diverse teams to achieve solid business results on sustainable basis.

On the other hand, Women Super Achievers award is a reflection of professional achievement by women of the world who set a big example for transformation and change. The award celebrates the most respected and much sought-after Women Leaders in the industry who contribute immensely to the field of Women Platform, as well as nurturing talent, having trained several young people to grow in their profession.

The World HRD Congress is a global event which attracts thousands of international professionals from over 100 countries around the world.

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Orange farmer’s sweet success

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Orange farmer’s sweet success

Having spent 28 years of his life working for Debswana in the mines of Jwaneng, in 2011 Daniel Makwana decided to swap diamonds for oranges.

The 63-year-old runs a three-hectare orange farm in Molalatau, located deep in the Bobirwa District.

With the help of the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), he is one of a select few to make a living growing and selling oranges in Botswana.

Last week, Voice Money, along with a number of other media houses, was given a tour of Makwana’s impressive Set Mark Orange Farm.

The excursion was part of a LEA initiative to showcase some of the enterprises they assist.

After warmly greeting his guests, the aging horticulturist humbly describes citrus production as ‘stress-free, easy work’ that does not require much manpower.

It does, however, demand a lot of water.

“The trees are watered with an electric pivot covering all three hectares. As for now, there are two employees as the irrigation system is innovative. Each hectare is watered once, and receives 60 litres every six hours.”

He explained that to begin with, back in January 2011, having injected over P1 million to start his business, he planted hundreds of oranges in plastics. A month later, he transplanted them into the soil, stretching out for one-and-a-half hectares.

Nine years later and his production has doubled.

On average each hectare contains 375 trees – in total his farm has around 1, 125 tress – all capable of producing hundreds of oranges.

“In a year each tree can produce about 35 bags weighing 7kg. Each bag sells for P65 but it depends – sometimes we go down to P60 and the schools normally afford to buy them for P40,” declared the farmer.

At the moment his product is still green but fresh and free from insects. Makwana expects his oranges to start ripening between March and July and is hopeful of another bumper harvest.

According to Makwana, the orange market is ripe with potential and thus he is able to choose who he sells to.

“My current market includes Selibe Phikwe Choppies, Pick n Pay, hawkers and individuals.”

Highlighting some of the expenses involved in his profession, Makwana says he pays a small fortune for fertilizers and in electric bills.

“When the orange tree is flowering that is when it really demands care as one has to feed it for the best harvest. We also have to plant trees as wind-breakers. Oranges flower in the windy season and if the flowers are taken by wind it’s a loss!”

Turning his attention to the impact LEA has had on his blossoming business, Makwana revealed the agency has taught him valuable horticultural techniques.

“These include how to detect trees, market linkage, benchmarking and technology gap analysis. Without LEA you cannot go anywhere!” exclaimed the bespectacled farmer, his weather-beaten features lit up with a proud smile.

As for the future, Makwana plans to add onions and potatoes to his crop.

However, he is restricted by funds as the seeds are too small to be planted by hand and require a special planter, which comes at a high cost.

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Diamond delight

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Diamond delight

OLDM engages with stakeholders

Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM) General Manager, Bakani Motlhabani held an engagement session with stakeholders last Wednesday.

The session, which took place at Orapa’s Itekeng Hall, was meant to update stakeholders on the progress of the three Debswana-owned mines as well as their community initiatives and the impact of their activities.

Motlhabani told the packed hall that OLDM employs mostly Batswana, with locals making up 99 percent of the staff contingent.

However, he admitted that the ratio of females-to-males was low.

“We have few women and we are looking to hire more. As Debswana we are inspired by our purpose, guided by our vision and we act in line with our values,” stressed the GM, revealing that OLDM currently employ 2, 973, with just over 20 percent of the workforce made up of women.

In terms of productivity, Motlhabani revealed that OLDM on average produce 12 million carats every year.

He further stressed that at Debswana they take safety extremely seriously.

“We are working towards zero harm through a number of safety initiatives. We now have alcohol testing which has helped us a lot as we have seen a noticeable reduction in alcohol consumption.”

Turning his attention to on-going projects at OLDM, Motlhabani announced they are in the final stages of building a Slimes Dam.

“This will provide capacity for the life of the mine at Orapa and is progressing well. We expect it to be completed by April,” he said.

As for the future, the GM announced plans for a ‘Cut-3’ project, which is hoped will increase the lifespan of Orapa mine way beyond its current projection of 2030.

“The project is to commence in 2023. When a big project is coming we intend to make big plans. It will create more employment and impart skills to the community. There will also be increased business opportunities,” he promised.

Stakeholders who attended the session included Dikgosi, Boteti Sub District Council, Heads of government departments and parastatals and the business community.

The stakeholders were also taken on a tour of the Adrian Gale Diamond Museum, which tells of the history of Botswana’s diamonds and showcases some of the artifacts discovered on the journey.

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