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People over profit!



People over profit!

Business Botswana cautions retailers against hiking of prices

Local business advocacy body, Business Botswana (BB) has urged retailers not to take advantage of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic by hiking their prices.

The organisation’s President, Gobusamang Keebine made the plea this week when addressing the media on the financial impacts of the highly contagious killer bug.

“One of the things that we are saying to members is to also not to take advantage of the situation, particularly the retailers,” implored Keebine.

According to the BB top dog, the trend has already developed in other African countries, where retailers selling necessities such as hand sanitizer were increasing prices on an increasingly regular basis.

“We will engage with our members as well as the Competition Authority to ensure that this does not happen in Botswana,” promised Keebine.

While COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world, spreading at a supersonic speed, businesses have been affected.

In other countries, governments have announced stimulus packages to cushion businesses from the effects of the virus.

Meanwhile, Keebine revealed BB are also looking at ways to avoid people being laid off after government’s decision to ban large gatherings earlier this week.

“The critical part for us is to ensure that we don’t have people laid off. For example, government has announced that not more than 100 people can gather, but companies in manufacturing probably have more than 400 people in a space,” he said, adding that such companies effectively disobey the law.

To mitigate job losses and at the same time comply with government position, Keebine announced that Business Botswana is engaging with the private sector to come up with innovative measures.

“We are doing everything with our members to ensure there are no retrenchments because, already we are sitting at a youth unemployment figure of over 20 percent. How many people would we want to see roaming the streets unemployed?” asked Keebine.

In addition to the hiking of prices, the business body has cautioned members of the public to abstain from hoarding and panic buying which would impact other members of the society.

While the virus has affected almost all sectors of the economy, tourism and air travel included, national airliner, Air Botswana says it anticipates an adverse impact due to its feeder status and reliance on other airlines.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecast the global airline revenue losses to be between US$63 billion and US$113 billion due to COVID-19.


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Battling for booze



Battling for booze

Liquor industry wants alcohol sale ban lifted

Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) is lobbying for government to follow the example of neighbouring countries and lift the ban on alcohol sales.

Their main reasoning being that citizens who live close to the border may be tempted to sneak out of the country in their desperation to buy liquor. They note this would be detrimental to the economy as well posing a serious health hazard.

The Association Chairman, Mothusi Molokomme told Voice Money they believe the ban – in place since 27 March – should be lifted to allow the public to purchase alcohol and consume it at home.

As much as the main focus is for bottle stores and wholesalers to open for trade, Molokomme revealed they also want bars to be opened, noting they are the only centres of distribution in some of the country’s remoter areas.

He stressed that bars should be allowed to operate on a ‘takeaway’ basis but only after they satisfy Covid-19 prevention protocols.

“The main worry is that there will be loitering around the bars. But it is our belief that operators will strictly adhere to the regulations and allow for takeaways only,” stated Molokomme.

The Chairman pointed to the recent surge in homebrews as indication that the ban should be lifted.

During the period of lockdown, the police have recorded escalating cases of homebrews, which in some instances have even led to the loss of drinkers’ lives.

“There is also a regional factor because South Africa has announced it will be opening next week. Namibia is opening as well and Zambia has always remained opened and because of our porous borders, we may see the illegal coming in of liquor,” continued Molokomme.

He said areas located along the borders of these countries pose a threat to liquor contraband.

While the association advocates for the ban to be lifted, he says as the industry, they will also intensify their message for safer consumption and promote good behaviour among consumers to exercise precautionary measures.

“We are hoping that we will reach an agreement. It will be difficult to convince government when it comes to opening of bars, but we cannot sideline the bars because, in some areas they are the only available points of sale,” reiterated Molokomme, who doubles as the Managing Director of Distell Botswana.

The association was scheduled to meet with the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), Peggy Serame this week to map a way forward regarding the sale of alcohol.

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Crafting a new life



Crafting a new life

The Enterprising Welder Me and My Business

Absorbed and happy in his work as a car mechanic, an unlikely request from a client three years ago changed the course of 35-year-old Bokamoso Selthabi’s life forever.

The self-taught welder now designs and makes various products from metal, including troughs, trailers, cages, kraal fences and other farm implements.

Having initially set-up shop in the North West of South Africa, his home of three years, the Morwa native retraced his steps back to Botswana to continue Bucha Rest Welding.

Recalling the meeting that altered his existence, Setlhabi told Voice Money he was working as a mechanic when a customer asked him to build a trailer for him.

“I made the product for him. After that he brought two more guys wanting my services. From there it grew into a fully-fledged business,” he explained.

“The business has now been running for two years based in South Africa. It is only at the beginning of this year that we relocated to Botswana,” continued the multi-talented craftsman, adding he briefly explored the Namibian market as well.

While he is still new to the local market, with much of that time blanketed by Covid-19 restrictions, Selthabi admits he is yet to reach a point where he can say business is as good as it was in South Africa.

“So far it has been a bit difficult locally. Some of the products that we do like metal kraals are still not highly rated here but we are working hard to market such products as a good alternative to wooden kraals,” he noted, a steely determination evident in his tone.

Setlhabi explained that one of the perceived disadvantages of products like metal kraals is because the metal conducts heat.

However, he points out that this can be overcome by simply applying paint.

“The good thing about it is that it is durable and lasts longer than other materials used to construct kraals,” he highlighted.

Despite the current low uptake of his products, the enterprising welder is optimistic his fortunes will soon turn around.

“It is promising because, when you work with customers who are not used to what you are doing, you have to carry out extensive marketing of your products. We hope when life goes back to normal after the pandemic there will be some improvement,” he said, adding that items such as feeding containers have proved popular and are in demand.

“We also have customers waiting across the country,” he added.

Other challenges – and the one Setlhabi describes as his biggest – is copycats who attempt to duplicate his work ‘but often fail to match my skills’.

“We have social media pages where we post our products. People would want to do exactly the same but often do not succeed because our designs are unique and the quality is top-notch,” said the National Craft Certificate (NCC) holder proudly.

As the business is still at infancy stage, he has engaged one person to assist but hopes as the enterprise grows he will be able to employ more.

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