The start of the week saw Barclays Bank Botswana finally complete its transition to Absa Bank Botswana Limited.
The name change comes almost four years after main shareholder Barclays PLC announced it was ending its presence in Africa following 100 years in the continent.
Barclays PLC, a London based lender, was a 63.2 percent majority shareholder in Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL), which in turn operated in a number of African markets such as Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.
Since the March 2016 announcement, Barclays PLC gradually reduced its controlling stake and has now become a minority shareholder.
In July 2018, Barclays changed its name back to Absa after the London bank sold the majority of its shares, which were primarily acquired by South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation.
The rebranding exercise was soon rolled out across the continent, with local operations starting their own rebranding late last year.
This came after local shareholders had in June 2019 approved changing the company’s name.
The bank also announced this week that it has obtained approval from the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) for the name change.
Despite the new look, the bank’s executives have stressed operations will continue as they did under the previous name.
According to the bank’s Public and Media Relations Manager, Spencer Moreri, the whole separation exercise for local operations cost a total of P16 million as of June 2019.
However, as the company is still on closed period, Moreri explained that the final amount spent will only be disclosed when Absa releases its financial results, which is expected to take place next month.
The stone breaker
In this week’s column, we feature energetic former auditor, Redemption Mosala who now serves at the Finance Manager of Belabela Quarries.
The 34-year-old John Mackenzie Secondary School alumni speaks to Voice Money’s KABELO ADAMSON about the nature of the company’s business.
The diminutive father-of-two, who may be short in size but is as chiseled as the tough stones his company dig up, also outlines the measures Belebela Quarries have taken to prepare against COVID-19.
Q. Briefly explain what your role as Finance Manager involves.
I sometimes feel Finance and Administrative Manager would be a more appropriate title (laughing).
I am the financial overseer of the company.
Every Thebe that leaves I should feel the pain!
So the main job overall is to make sure I minimize any wasteful expenditure and whatever expenditure we incur we do the most out of it.
For every Pula that we spend, we make sure that we get top value out of it.
So, it is cost management in a sense. Because we are a medium-size company that is still growing, there are no limited roles.
I am also involved in marketing, as well as taking care of the Information Technology department.
As I said, I do administrative work as well and there are a lot of financial and sales aspects.
The financial aspect involves minimizing costs while the sales part of it is about maximizing the revenue, which is cash in.
I have to set up a system to make sure that the cash flows are in a controlled manner.
Q. When did you join the company and where were you before that?
I joined the company in 2014.
Before that I worked as an auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Q. Kindly explain to our readers the nature of your business.
We are quarrying a type of stone called granite; it is the most abrasive kind of stone you can quarry.
Abrasive as in one of the toughest you can ever find! Obviously our machines suffer a lot, but what it also means is our clients get a good quality product.
The process starts in a simple way, we drill, blast using dynamites then break them into smaller stones.
We put those stones in a jaw and crush into smaller sizes and from there we come up with products which make bricks and for plastering.
Those are our biggest selling products.
Q. What other products do you produce?
We do have road stones, which come in a variety depending on their sizes.
The products are mixed with bitumen which is then placed on roads to make asphalt and tar roads.
We also produce stones, which are usually used on railway lines.
Q. Who makes up the bulk of your clientele?
Our clients are all companies that build roads and construction companies.
When it comes to crush dust, our clients are mostly individuals.
Then we have those who are building these shopping centres.
But I can tell you, 48 percent of our clients are individuals and are actually the heart and soul of this business.
Q. Do you also sell your products outside the country?
No. We don’t sell outside the border because there might be some difficulties in terms of how we export a load of dust.
The other thing that you have to bear in mind is that transport will become more expensive.
For example, if you deliver in Jwaneng you will find that transport costs as much as the product and once you go further say Sekoma, the cost of transport doubles.
So, if you are going to export, you export to where?
We don’t really export as it stands now – instead we offer mobile crushing.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you face in this line of work?
We use all types of equipment such as liners and conveyors and our buckets for loaders which have got blades and those blades break weekly.
We have to replace them every week because the stone is so hard.
All these machines we have to replace the parts and we are spending quite a lot of money every month just to repair them.
Nothing lasts long here.
I can’t give you the exact figures but it’s quite a lot of money!
Q. How many employees do you have?
We normally operate on 70 but we recently employed another 20 to deal with what seems to be an increase in demand.
We have engaged about four students from Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).
We are trying to take more people from the school and have more skilled guys and we really have a close relationship with BIUST.
Q. Is the company also taking care of the transportation part?
No, we subcontracted the transport business; we are not involved in it at all and are completed by subcontractors.
We have about 15 truck owners that we have engaged most of them funded by CEDA.
One of the most unfortunate things about my job is that every week I get at least four truck owners asking to have their trucks in the system but we have got enough trucks.
There is only so much we can do; we need more big projects in order to engage more truck owners.
The last time I put in more trucks was during the construction of the Phakalane road passing through Glen Valley.
Q. And lastly, how is the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 affecting your business?
Well, as it stands now we are monitoring the situation and listening to all the streams of information that we can including the Ministry of Health here.
But because we are part of a group where a lot of the shareholders are South Africa based and they are telling us the measures to take, we try to tailor-make those measures to suit our situation.
For now, we have done all the disinfecting being advised and so forth.
We will see as time goes on how the situation turns out.
The roadside warriors
Making a living along the a1 making ends meet
Approximately 15km south of Palapye, the A1 road dissects the sleepy settlement of Makoro.
On the outskirts of the village lies a Disease Control barrier beside which a number of entrepreneurs have set up makeshift stalls.
Depending on the season, they sell a variety of natural foods and snacks, including watermelons, peanuts, maize and mopane worms.
With a steady stream of daily traffic moving up and down the country’s premier highway, the street sellers enjoy a frequent flow of customers.
Travelling back to Gaborone after a short visit to the second city recently, Voice Money’s Portia Mlilo took time out of her journey home to talk to these roadside warriors and find out how their businesses are going.
Keitumetse Maphanephane, 40, from Palapye
In 2008 my daughter was very ill and it was affecting my performance at work [Car Dealership Assistant] so I decided to quit.
It was very difficult to provide for my family so I started this business of selling field produce.
At first I bought a sack of peanuts and cowpeas in Francistown.
In 2012, I managed to make profit and hire people to de-bush my field so that I can plough and sell watermelon, maize, beans, peanuts and cowpeas.
This business has helped me a lot.
I pay for my children’s school fees and the elder one is doing her second year at tertiary.
Their father passed on in 2018 so I am now the breadwinner.
I also managed to build myself a house, which is connected with water and electricity.
On a busy day I can make more than P1, 000.
The major problem we have is that we do not have a shelter so my business is affected during the rainy season.
Lesego Ndubo, 36, from Serowe
I used to sell clothes in Gaborone.
In 2018 on my way to Serowe I stopped by Makoro to buy peanuts and I realised there was no one selling food to these business people.
I started selling them lunch and breakfast.
I also buy peanuts in bulk in Mahikeng, South Africa and supply them.
I make more profit on Saturday because that is when a lot of people travel and buy food from my stall.
Unlike my previous business, with this one I am sure of saving everyday and not having to wait for month end for people to pay.
I have even opened a savings account.
I use the profit I make to provide for my parents.
Just last week I went to apply for their electricity connection and paid P1, 000.
Gaboratanelwe Blacky Thapelo, 32, from Palapye
After failing my Form 3 I decided to start farming.
I plough, producing watermelon, peanuts, maize and sell to people passing here.
During winter I buy produce from South Africa and sell mophane worms.
This business has really helped me because I managed to buy myself a car which I use to transport my produce from the fields.
I have also built myself a modern house complete with running water and power.
I even take care of my three nieces, buying them uniform and paying for their school fees.
On a busy day, especially towards month end, I make more than a thousand Pula.
I am currently saving to buy a van so that I can produce more and supply to other people in this business.
Ledirafetse Lokial, 72, from Palapye
I started this business in 2001 selling watermelons and peanuts.
Now the business has grown, I sell sweet reed, cowpeas, maize and mophane worms.
With the profit I make, I managed to build a house, connect water and electricity.
I have raised my seven children with the takings I make from this business and now they are working.
The major challenge we have is that there is no permanent structure to use to store our stock.
We use vacant veterinary officers’ houses but sometimes thieves break in and steal our products, which is a serious draw back.
Some company came here last year and promised to build a shelter for us but we are still waiting.
We only receive help from mobile network providers, who supply us with their big umbrellas.