Lucrative export window for textile industry

The Edcon Group last week began to run a series of workshops aimed at capacitating the local textile industry to improve the quality of their products while also looking to conform to the specific demands of the retailer. BusinessWeek’s PAULINE DIKUELO attended the workshop and discovered that after years of limiting themselves to the local market, an opportunity that needs to be grabbed with both hands, has risen for local textile players to break the export boundary and supply the retailing group in their outlets spread across seven countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Lesotho and Mozambique

The workshop followed the last November’s Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry engagement with them and other retailers to start giving preference to local suppliers.

This was a condition set by government as a way of ‘arm twisting’ foreign retailers operating in reserved businesses to empower Batswana. The Ministry says it have reached a mutual satisfactory agreement with the South African retailer consenting to capacitate local suppliers as well as giving a part of their in-store floor space to local suppliers in the next two years.

As part of the agreement, Edcon will avail 10% of its floor space to local suppliers in the two years leading to December 2018. The exemption would allow them to trade in the clothing retail space reserved for citizens, with Edcon agreeing to facilitate and run supplier development workshops in Botswana on agreed dates.


Believe it or not, serobe in a can

At one point, Marcia Thabo Sento’s dream was to become an interior designer, the profession she studied for at Curtin University in Australia, in 2004.

Having completed her studies, she planned to venture into her chosen career, but fate would intervene.

Sento married her long-time sweetheart Webster Mothusi Sento. The couple’s marriage vows resulted in a change of dreams, from interior design, to venturing into a unique business enterprise. That new dream has resulted in the birth of a unique Botswana product - tripe (serobe) in a can.

In recent months, the canned serobe has garnered increasing attention from the public, with many enquiring where it can be purchased. The canned tripe, available in plain and chilly 410 grammes, is proving a surprise hit, especially as more Batswana move towards the quick and easy convenience of microwave meals.

Recently, the Tsabong-raised Marcia told the story of how her career path turned from an interest in interior design, to helping her husband set up a packaging and catering enterprise that is taking the retail market by storm.

Sento quit everything and threw her focus into her husband’s idea of packaging serobe.

“I love my husband so much that I sacrificed everything to work with him on the product. It was not easy to start the business as we encountered a lot of exhausting challenges on the road to where we are now. We continue to strive of course, but that’s everyday business,” she said.


Two titans drag down the BSE

Sechaba Brewery Holdings limited stock price has plunged the most since the beginning of this year. The fall in Sechaba share price, is an occurrence repeated across the wholesaling and retail sector in the Botswana Stock Exchange, marked by falling share prices amid tough operating conditions.

The wholesaling and retail sector has dragged the BSE’s domestic company index (DCI) down by 3.61% since the beginning of the year. The sector’s drag spills over from last year when the DCI declined by 11.3% after the wholesaling and retail sector lost 7.1% to become the worst performing sector in the local stock market. This was a reversal of fortunes from 2015 when the DCI finished the year 11.6% up with the wholesale and retail sector being the second best performing sector at 4.2%.

The performance of the sector this year reflects a broader trend that started earlier last year when African states battled with the fall in commodity prices due to waning demand across major markets. Furthermore wholesaling and retail stocks were under pressure from the El Nino phenomenon that affected many farmers, particularly in Southern Africa. By nature of their business, wholesaling and retail companies’ revenue is directly affected by the spending power of consumers and any negative shocks to the economy that affects government and consumer spending power rattles investors.

Sechaba’s shock share price drop was rapid but not totally unexpected. The group has so far lost 22% of its share value amid a challenging environment that investors have no appetite for. The woes of Sechaba dates back to the introduction of the alcohol levy in 2008. The levy has had an impact on the volumes shipped thus reducing the bottom line margins. However, the brewery giant was able to remain resistant, delivering profits and investors cheering them on the stock market.

A spanner was once more thrown in the works when the government introduced the traditional beer regulation that affected some of the group’s operations. The combination of the levies and regulations are now weighing heavily on Sechaba’s operations. To compound the matter further, investors are weary now considering the future of the group under new owners: in 2015, Anheuser-Busch InBev finally offered SABMiller PLC £68 billion in a takeover bid, creating a brewing giant making about a third of the world’s beer.


Barclays Bank of Botswana wins ‘Bank of the year’

Barclays Bank of Botswana (BBB) has been named Botswana’s ‘Bank of the Year 2016’ by Acquisition International (AI) – The Voice of Corporate Finance. AI is a monthly magazine, brought to you by a UK based publisher, which seeks to shape the global corporate conversation through high quality editorial and rigorous research from its team of experts and advisors.

“We are delighted and proud to be the recipients of this prestigious award and to be named the Botswana ‘Bank of the year 2016’. This reaffirms our commitment to providing our valued customers and clients with the superior banking services they need and deserve,” said Barclays Bank of Botswana Managing Director, Reinette Van der Merwe.

AI has a readership of over 108,000 subscribers in over 170 countries. This in turn had consequently attracted submissions from some of the biggest players in the corporate landscape.

The major reason for Barclays Bank to win this award is the continued investing in cutting edge technology that enhances efficiency levels across the business. This has positively impacted customers, and repositioned the Bank as the leading pioneer of innovative banking solutions in the market.

“As a Bank, part of our work ethic is highly influenced by rising to the challenge to keep innovating and having a positive impact on Botswana’s growth. Our growth and excellence story largely depends on the strong and resilient banking system we have managed to develop and, above all, a dedicated workforce,” Van der Merwe added.

Barclays Retail Banking continued to launch first-to-market, customer focused solutions; Mobile Point of Sale, Cash at Till, Ignition Account, Discounts and Offers and Cardless Cash Deposit are some of the customer centric solutions that makes banking easier. It is through these innovations that Barclays continue to help Batswana prosper.

The Bank also excelled at Business Banking and launched Franchise Finance and Business Debit card to the local market. It also demonstrated expertise in Agric Banking through sponsorships of key activities across the country, including the National Agric Show, Chobe Farmers Field Day and Sandveld Farmers’ Field day, amongst others.