Young entrepreneur, Dikgang Ntala Tlhabuswe has seen his hardwork and loyalty elevate him from a labour to a business owner, taking over from Botswana Alluminium founders
The company provides construction services specialising in installing, alluminium windows, door frames, curtain walls, skylight and partitions. Speaking to the Business Trend, Tlhabuswe said he started working in the company as a labourer for 15 years and has been working hard being loyal to his employers. He said his employers offered him to buy the business as they are going back home.
“ I completed my JC in 1998 and I was employed as a labourer in this company.
My bosses loved me because I was hard working and very loyal and trustworthy. So when it was time to go back to Serbia in 2016 they left me with the company,” said Tlhabuswe. He bought the company in partnership with his brother.
Tlhabuswe told Business Trends that he has never thought of running a company but through this offer he realized that it was not difficult to be an entrepreneur as his bosses encouraged him to take the offer because he had skills and experience in the business. He bought the company at a value of P300 000 and continued with the previous employees. He said he started gaining entrepreneurship skills in 2016 by attending business seminars such as Gabane Youth Business Pitso.
“I come from Gabane so when I heared about the Youth Business Pitso I decided to attend it so that I can learn more about how to operate a business. Currently, I want to enroll for business courses to upgrade my skills,”
He said the company is doing well above the competitors as he offers special alluminium from Europe compared to other local and South African suppliers, who offer lighter alluminium. Currently the company has six employees. Tlhabuswe said most of his clients are individuals and few contractors but he is currently satisfied with the profits.
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
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.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
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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