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Modibedi to take his welding business outside Botswana

Keikantse Lesemela

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Local enterepreneur, Edson Modibedi aims to penetrate the regional market through artistic and quality products he produces from his small firm in Newstands Gaborone.

Modibedi started his registered his welding company, ET MOD Investments in 2013 which is currently trading as Classic Collection Club located at Newstands Council market. He manufactures tables, flower pots, garden chairs, wine rags, flower pots anther furniture.

He told the Business Trends that he believes his products can make it in the international market because he is highly skilled in design and produces the best products. “I am talented in design skills so my products are always unique and beautiful. They are always attractive to customers,” he said. He has worked as a welder for three years and this increased his skills and experience in the field.
Recently he got first prize at the Gaborone City Council’s mini show fair organised by the Poverty Eradication Unit. The City gave him the opportunity to showcase his products at the Consumer Fair at the end of August.

Currently he has two employees. Modibedi, who is a beneficiary of Poverty Eradication Program also wants to expand his small production to mass production. However, he is limited by equipment as he only uses manual equipment. “I need modern equipment which will enable me to speed up production and save time. The current machines are slow and this limits my production. I (also) want to export my products, ” he said.

Modibedi revealed to the Business Trends that Poverty Eradication Programme funding model contributes to low production and stunted growth of Small, Medium Macro Enterprises as they do not offer enough equipment required to start up the business. “They only provide few equipment which are not sufficient and this limits production levels. Even if we have submitted quotations of all the machinery we need they alter it but during the first application they do not give us the maximum amount they give,” said Modibedi.

The Poverty Eradication Programme is geared towards assisting Batswana to attain food and economic security, and at a minimum, sustainable livelihood among the disadvantaged individuals and families. The programme issues equipment worth between P35 000 to P45 000. Modibedi is currently designing a unique table with five legs using steel and rubber from car tyres. He is currently seeking funding from institutions to help him achieve his goals to produce in large quantities and supply big furniture shops locally and regionally. Currently his major clients are organizations and individuals.

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Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft

The MidweekSun Admin

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Botswana Railways CEO, Louis Makwinja

Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.

Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.

There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”

The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”

During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.

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Calls to improve crop yields with technology

Keikantse Lesemela

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Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.

Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.

Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.

She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.

Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.

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