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Dictating her destiny



Dictating her destiny

Women sets up curio shop in Maun ME & MY BUSINESS

With close to 200, 000 unemployed citizens searching for work in a country with a population slightly over two million, competition in Botswana’s job market is getting tougher by the day.

According to the latest report from Statistics Botswana, of the 194, 990 seeking jobs, 100, 000 are women.

It is against this backdrop that Keatametse Medupe, a hard-working Motswana woman, decided to set up a small curio business in Maun to relieve the stress of looking for employment where 68, 000 people have given up the search.

“I came to Maun in 2017 to join my husband who was already working here. As you know, jobs are hard to get. I had to look around and decide on the kind of business that would help me to meaningfully contribute to the family income. I settled for a curio shop,” explains the 44-year-old mother-of-two, who started her enterprise in May 2017.

Medupe had enough capital to rent and stock up a small stall besides Tshilli café (opposite Nhabe Musuem) a favourite chilling-spot with tourists.

“I started small because I was still learning the market and kept expanding as the business improved.”

The bulk of her products include hand-made crafts, traditional baskets and handbags, branded t-shirts, caps and hats.

Originally from Letlhakeng village in the Kweneng District, Medupe arrived in Maun armed with a basic background in selling merchandise. She sold clothes from her car boot and did some part time business consultancy.

“I come from a family of people who hate idleness. We always have to find something to do. Those who are unemployed, they either go into Agriculture or open some form of business to self-employ,” stressed the well-dressed businesswoman, her large purple earrings and stylish straw hat indicative of her colourful character.

However, starting a curio shop proved trickier than Medupe envisioned.

“I thought setting up a curio shop would be the easiest option since I had been selling clothes for some time. But I learnt that it was not a bed of roses.”

She quickly realised tourists were not like her previous clientele, which was almost entirely made up of locals.

“They have certain tastes and preferences. You have to be hands on even when you have employees because tourists ask questions. They do not just buy without knowing the history of the products. They want to know what materials were used and where they were manufactured. That requires a lot of patience, attention and love,” notes Medupe, adding tourists often pay with foreign currency so she has to be up-to-date with exchange rates.

“Sometimes they are not sure of the kind of gifts they want to buy for friends and family back home, so I have to help them find that perfect gift from my shop. The secret is to never lose a customer to a competitor!”

Medupe’s products are mostly made in Botswana, with a few items sourced from neighbouring countries.

“I do get a few items from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, but most of my stuff is made locally. My priority is to sell Botswana tourism through crafts.”

Medupe is making the most of SADC’s Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063, which promotes free intra trade among its member states.

The initiative is designed to encourage SADC members to reduce tariffs at its borders in a bid to boost trade within the region, which is currently reported to stand at 15-17 percent.

The ultimate goal is to reduce unemployment and poverty in these countries.

“Currently I have one employee, but I will be expanding very soon and hope to employ two more. My aim is to grow so that within the next five years I will be supplying other shops and selling internationally,” reveals Medupe, beaing at the prospect.

Although still relatively small, the business has helped her put food on the table as well as paying for her four-year-old daughter’s school fees.

“As a woman it is important that you contribute to the income at home. I do not have to completely depend on my husband for financial support.”

2019 proved a difficult year for both Medupe and Maun, the devastating drought that parched the land causing a drop in the number of tourists who visited the area.

“The drought coupled with an election year was a very bad combination in the tourism industry. Our sales drastically went down. Fortunately, from the savings we made in 2018, which was a relatively good year, we managed to keep our heads afloat.”

Last year, Maun and the North West District endured terrible famine. Large parts of the Okavango Delta and the usually mighty Thamalakane River, which twists its way through the tourist area, went dry. This led to a massive reduction in the water-based activities on offer, resulting in many tourists cancelling their bookings. The drying up of the Delta was due to drought in Angola, which feeds the Okavango.

Experts are hopeful the water will return this year, with the floods in Angola already flowing into the Delta and water levels confirmed to be going up in the Mohembo and Shakawe area.

Medupe is confident the good times will return in 2020.

“Our businesses will hopefully go up again this year. We have been informed that the water may reach Thamalakane River early, maybe around March.”

Although her business has little to do with water, the precious liquid could prove the difference between another year of struggle or a period of success.

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



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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The Power of now



The Power of Now

Key decisions needed regarding power generation in Botswana

2020 is set to be a landmark year for Botswana in terms of investing in electricity production.

According to the latest economic review from research specialists Econsult, this year the country must decide the path it intends to take for future power generation.

While it is appreciated that the new capacity is not needed anytime soon, economists warn that key decisions need to be taken now as energy generation investments are large and take years to implement.

The big question, according to the review, is whether the country intends to continue to rely on coal as its main source of energy or switch to large-scale solar power generation.

Since it started producing its own power, Botswana has been heavily reliant on coal-fired power stations for energy.

Having established the 132Megawatt (MW) Morupule A Power Station back in 1989, by 2014 the country, through the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), commissioned a larger power station, Morupule B at a capacity of 600MW.

However, the two have never been enough to meet local demand as the country still imports a considerable portion of its power.

According to the Econsult report, electricity consumption in Botswana has been increasing at an average of 4.6 percent a year over a three-decade period from 1989 to 2018.

It is for this reason that a number of options are proposed for Botswana to consider, the most prominent being solar power generation.

Although the country experiences sunlight all year round, solar energy remains largely unexplored in Botswana.

“Most current solar power initiatives are private and small-scale, mostly in off-grid locations such as farms and safari camps,” notes Econsult.

Plans have been in the pipeline since 2017 to develop two 50MW solar generation facilities to supply power to the national grid. However, neither initiative has got past the tender stage.

Indeed, although solar energy presents a huge opportunity for the country to attain self-sustenance, it is believed there is still preference for coal-fired power station. Experts point to the proposed 300MW Morupule B Units 5/6 Project as evidence of such a mindset.

Econsult believe going with another coal-fired power plant would be inconsistent with Botswana’s Climate Change Strategy.

Another option available for the country is to explore is Coal-Bed Methane (CBM). There are already projects in the pipeline, with Tlou Energy at an advanced stage with its CBM project.

Econsult has urged government to choose quickly where its next 300MW of power will come from.

It has, however, warned that choosing coal over solar power runs the risk of being ‘backward-looking’ rather than anticipating likely technical, economic and political changes over the next two decades.

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Barclays completes Absa transition



Barclays completes Absa transition

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.

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