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Dictating her destiny

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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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Business

Letlole La Rona suspends CEO

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Letlole La Rona (LLR), a property company listed on the Botswana Stock Limited (BSEL), on Tuesday moved to suspend its Chief Executive Officer, Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa.

His suspension, according to a notice to shareholders, follows preliminary findings arising from an investigation into issues relating to the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan.

Mutiswa who was appointed LLR CEO in June 2018, is said to have been suspended with full benefits pending the outcome of the full investigations.

Commenting on the latest developments, LLR Board Chairperson, Boitumelo Mogopa noted good governance remains sacrosanct to the board and all staff of the company.

“The preliminary findings of the possible misconduct arising from the investigations relate to the circumstances around the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan during or around March this year and possible acts or omissions by an individual in a unique position of power,” said Mogopa.

Mogopa said this by no means reflects the integrity of the board, financial performance and company portfolio.

“For us, it remains business as usual as the due process takes its course,” said Mogopa.

Meanwhile, the board has in the interim appointed Botshelo Mokotedi to hold the fort on an acting basis while investigations continue.

Mokotedi is seconded from Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) – a major shareholder in LLR – where he is the Head of Risk.

He is described as a forward-thinking, highly motivated and results-oriented individual with more than a decade experience in the financial services sector across a variety of senior roles, including Business Development, Credit Analysis as well as Portfolio and Risk Management.

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Business

COVID-19 relief fund gets a boost

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COVID-19 relief fund gets a boost

Limkokwing University, Caltex donate over P1. 2 million

Various companies and organizations on Wednesday donated over P1.2 million to the Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Among those who contributed to the fund was Astron Energy Botswana, a leading supplier of petroleum products that operates Caltex filling stations.

COVID-19 relief fund gets a boost
RECEIVING DONATIONS: Vice President Tsogwane accepts a donation from Caltex (Astron Energy)

Presenting a P100 000 cheque donation to the Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Astron Energy Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Buno noted that given the spirit of unity displayed by Batswana during this difficult time, the country will prevail against the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We continue to recognise the priceless need to comply with all regulations to ensure that we do our part through our storage depot operations and our network of Caltex branded filling stations,” said Buno.

The biggest contributor of the day, however, was, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT), who handed over a P1.2 million dummy cheque towards the relief Fund.

COVID-19 relief fund gets a boost
BIG CONTRIBUTION: Limkokwing University of Creative Technology donates big to the COVID-19 Relief Fund

The institution’s Head of Public Relations, Mercy Thebe highlighted that the donation was a personal contribution from the University founder and President, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Limkokwing.

Thebe also noted that the P1.2 million consisted of P500, 000 cash, P300, 000 worth of creative content, P200, 000 worth of face masks and a scholarship to the underprivileged for the 2020 Academic Year.

Other organizations that contributed to the fund included the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), which gave P105, 000, the Muslim Association of Botswana Molepolole branch with P56, 550, Southern District Beef Producers Association which donated P50, 000 and Taurus Batteries who put P150, 000 in the kitty.

Receiving the donations, Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane thanked all the organizations for bolstering government relief efforts to fight the Covid-19 by donating generously to the fund.

“It is symbolic in the sense that it reminds us that the war is still on,” said the VP, adding that by making these generous donations, both individuals and organizations are contributing towards winning the fight against the pandemic.

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