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Surviving on the streets of Maun

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Surviving on the streets of Maun

Making Ends Meet

As the economy sags with the decreasing number of tourists in Maun due to the long dry spell, hawkers and street vendors are feeling the pinch.

Taking to the streets of this tourist town, which is a gateway to the Okavango Delta, Voice Money finds out how the ordinary Ngamilander battles on a daily basis to keep bread on the table.

On a ‘very good day’, all five vendors say they can make up to P500.

Surviving on the streets of Maun
THEBES FOR MY TSWII: Ngongorego Kapwe

I am in the business of selling twii, a native food of people living in the north western parts of Botswana.

I started my business in 2013 and I have been able to sustain myself since then.

Despite being able to make ends meet, the business is not as profitable as before.

Since the river dried up I now buy tswii from Shakawe unlike before where I went into the river to harvest it myself.

Tswii together with Mapakiwa are my means of putting food on the table!

Surviving on the streets of Maun
CRAFTING A LIVING: Kurika Diakuwa

I make a living from selling Art crafts. I started the business in 2016, taking over from my parents.

Most of the crafts that I sell are handmade by my wife and I.

I have been able to sustain myself and my family through this business.

The only challenge is that there is no proper wood for carving in Maun so I travel to my home village, Etsha 6, to get the raw material which is costly.

Recently, the business has not been doing that well due to the decline in the number of tourists in the area.

The main target market of my business is tourists since local people are hardly interested.

Surviving on the streets of Maun
GOLDEN OLDIE: Josephine Nlhabano

Rather than staying at home doing nothing, as an old age pensioner I believe self-sufficiency is key.

I originate from Mabudzwane village near Francistown and make a living out of dress-making.

I have been in the business since 1995 and I was able to send my kids to school and sustain myself as well as the business.

I buy cloth and sew dresses to sell.

My only challenge is that some dresses can take a long time in the stall without a buyer.

Surviving on the streets of Maun
DREAM TEAM: Livefon Maphindu and Adrien Moyo

We are partners. The two of us are in the art crafts business.

We do batik, screen panting, potato printing, metal works and wood curving to mention a few.

We started operating in 2003 and according to us the business is not doing well like previous years.

We believe that the decline in the number of tourists is the cause of our ordeal.

Ever since the river dried up, the number of tourists dropped due to the fact that attractions like boat cruising, mokoro riding, fishing and others have been halted.

We are, however, hopeful that things will get better in the festive season as some people will be coming over for their holidays.

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Business

Battling for booze

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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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Business

Crafting a new life

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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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