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Hopping to success

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Hopping to success

Rabbit breeder makes big bucks

Six years ago, a feature in a local newsletter changed the course of Timothy Mauco’s life forever.

Unsurprisingly it is a moment the 40-year-old rabbit breeder recalls with vivid clarity.

“I started in December 2014 after reading an article in the advertiser on rabbit breeding. I was drawn to breeding by the fact that rabbits can give birth from one to 12 babies and their gestation period is only a month and also that they don’t need much space to rear,” explains the Madingwana village native.

After setting up Rabbitry, a business which started life with just four rabbits, Mauco took to the Internet to learn more about the furry mammals he intended to breed and sell.

Amongst other things, he discovered that a female rabbit can become pregnant again within a few days of giving birth and thus could potentially produce 144 babies a year.

Hopping to success
RABBIT SHELTER: Mauco’s farm

Seven months into the scheme and the enterprise was already completing sales.

“In 2016 I met with a couple of breeders who had just formed an association of rabbit breeders. The association is known as Botswana Rabbit Farmers Association,” says Mauco, who currently serves as the organisation’s Vice-Chairman.

With the help and advice of his newly found colleagues, Mauco further advanced his expertise in rabbit breeding.

He has used this knowledge to good effect, telling Voice Money that since setting up shop, financially the business has pretty much taken care of itself.

“I barely use my own money to buy them feed as their sales are so good that I use proceeds from sales to feed them,” he reiterates proudly.

Currently Mauco runs the business alone and has everything automated, from water drinkers to gravity feeders and the use of self-cleaning cages.

At the moment he has 25 females and five males and sells roughly 150 kits (baby rabbits) a month at P100 each.

He does not sell for meat and his clients are predominantly pet owners, usually parents buying gifts for their children. Other breeders also make up a large part of his customer base.

As with all businesses, Rabbitry is not without its challenges.

Mauco explains that rabbits are extremely susceptible to disease and thus he has to take great care his animals remain healthy. Also the feeds he uses are expensive and when there is a delay in selling stock this cost quickly mounts.

A Diploma holder in E-Technology Computing, Mauco says his initial interest in this field was logistics. However, now he predominantly uses his digital know-how to help his business in record keeping and research.

“I am still involved in logistics as well, only that I do it on a small scale,” he adds.

Reflecting on his six-year journey to date, Mauco notes that the business has experienced ‘tremendous growth’ during this period. He is now driven to ensuring the industry itself experiences similar progress in the years to come.

FIVE FUN FACTS ABOUT RABBITS

*A male rabbit is called a buck, and a female is called a doe. A baby rabbit is called a kit (and not a bunny as is widely thought), which is short for kitten.

Hopping to success
CUTE AND CUDDLY: Rabbits
  • Rabbits have a gestation period of around 31 days. The female can have up to 10-12 kits, very rarely litters as big as 16 and as small as one.
  • Rabbits are prey animals and are rarely considered to be smart, but this reputation is not entirely fair. Your pet rabbit is far more intelligent than you might think. Rabbits are clever animals. They are strong-minded and dominant and will not do anything they don’t want to.
  • In the wild, a rabbit’s lifespan is extremely short, with only a few surviving beyond two years. However, pet rabbits typically enjoy a much longer life, with the average lifespan between 8 to 12 years. According to the Guinness Book of World Records the oldest known rabbit was as a wild rabbit in Australia named Flopsy who died a month shy of its 19th birthday.
  • Happy rabbits practice a cute behavior known as a ‘binky’: they jump up in the air and twist and spin around!
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Business

Inflation increases in April

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Inflation increases in April

Cities and towns experience rising rates

The latest figures from Statistics Botswana (SB) show that the annual inflation rate in April registered a slight increase.

Inflation for the month stood at 2.5 percent, up 0.3 percent from the 2.2 percent recorded in March.

However, SB stressed that data collection for the month was hampered by the on-going lockdown, enforced on 3 April.

The restriction on movement meant data collection for prices was primarily conducted through emails and telephone calls.

In the end, the data collected covered only 70 percent of goods in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket.

The most affected items in the basket were alcoholic beverages and tobacco – the sale of which is temporarily suspended – and clothing and footwear, as outlets were closed during the month of April.

The closure of such shops reportedly resulted in a number of missing or unobserved prices, which were imputed through variation of the observed prices.

According to SB, the biggest contributors to the April annual inflation rate were: housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which went up by 1.1 percentage points, and food and non-alcoholic beverages, which increased by 0.4 percent.

By regions, the inflation rates between March and April indicates that cities and towns increased by 0.4 of a percentage point, rising from 2.3 percent to 2.7.

Rural villages’ rates rose from 2.0 percent to 2.3 percent while urban villages’ rates similarly registered an increase of 0.3 percentage point to 2.6 percent.

When addressing local media on Tuesday this week, the Competitions and Consumer Authority CEO, Tebelelo Pule said the Authority observed an increase in consumer good prices when the effects of Covid-19 started to be felt locally.

“Prices increased in an unusual manner which disturbed us as the Authority. On top of that, there was also a decrease in the quality of goods,” announced Pule, highlighting the example of sanitizers, which she noted were ‘manufactured by anybody’.

Pule revealed that the Authority went into shops around the country to compile a price list, which they published on their website and Facebook page to allow consumers to compare how different retail stores were pricing their goods.

The CEO cautioned that those found guilty of unfairly increasing prices face a possible five-year jail term or P100, 000 fine or even both.

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Business

Cutting trees, increasing profits

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Cutting trees, increasing profits

When Innocent Tlhabano set up Archgate Solutions in 2011, the business was primarily centered around landscaping and supplies.

However, a change in direction last year, to focus on tree cutting and large area grass business, proved the change in fortune Tlhabano craved.

Reminiscing on the unusual path that led to this latest venture, the 33-year-old Tonota native explained he received funding from the Youth Development Fund (YDF) for beef production in 2017.

“Due to the fact that beef production takes a while and as a way to diversify streams, we into tree cutting to supplement our income,” highlights Tlhabano, a Mechatronics Engineering graduate from the University of Sheffield in the north of England.

“The type of tree cutting we do is mostly for government and private companies, predominantly for those trees that grow to the level of power cables, as they cause lots of power cuts,” he told Voice Money.

Cutting trees, increasing profits
CHOPPING DOWN TREES: Archgate Solutions at work

The business currently has six permanent employees but can hire up to 80 workers when contracted for large-scale projects.

Although he describes business in the last year as good, Tlhabano admits it is not quite a bed of roses.

“We are looking to expand and we have recently been working with Turnstar, owners of Game City mall. They have a number of properties around Gaborone and have engaged us to help them trim their trees and keep everything tidy,” revealed the tree-trimming boss.

Tlhabano is proud of the progress his enterprise has made since their first major project at Motswedi Junior Secondary School in Gaborone.

“It gave us a boost and from the proceeds we were able to procure much-needed equipment. Since then we have grown because now we are doing large area grass cutting. We have bought tractors for such jobs and lawnmowers,” he said.

Though based in Gaborone, Archgate Solutions offers its services nation-wide and is part of the team working on the power line from Palapye to Maun.

Cutting trees, increasing profits
CHOPPING DOWN TREES: Archgate Solutions at work

“We have been engaged as a sub-contractor by another company to provide bush-clearing services because we have the right equipment.”

As for some of the difficulties encountered, Tlhabano decried, “The main challenge we face is that there is no continuity in projects. We do a project then we have to wait a little bit longer for another one to come. We also found out that the government procurement process takes long.”

He noted that even if a government department wants to engage the company, the procurement process can take up to two months.

Despite these frustrations, Tlhabano has big plans for the future –plans that include potentially expanding across borders.

“We are thinking that maybe in the coming few years, we should explore if we can get some business outside the country. We are also looking at entities such as Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) because they have lots of jobs for tree cutting to clear their power lines,” he outlined.

As for the more immediate future, Archgate Solutions intend to further engage property companies to take care of their properties as far as tree trimming is concerned.

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