Kefentse Baitshoki was inspired to start his own company, Baitshoki Investments, and create employment for other youths in Kanye after working as a furniture manufacturer for four years. Baitshoki, 33, told Sun Business that he started the furniture manufacturing company because he wanted to use his skills to meet people’s needs and also create employment. The company specialises in manufacturing couches, slay beds, car seats and upholstery.
He also repairs damaged furniture and car seats. Baitshoki was motivated by his experience gained in working for a furniture manufacturing company. “I was employed as a furniture manufacturer and through the skills and knowledge I acquired I realised that I can also do this business and create employment for other young people and contribute to economic development,” he said.
He acquired business skills through training at Local Enterprise Authority (LEA). “I enrolled in LEA training in 2012 when I was still working with my friend who was also running a business”. He started the business using his own personal savings. “The business required a lot of money to start but I was so determined and could not see lack of funding as an impediment to start, so I used the little money I had to buy the manufacturing equipment,” he said. While still doing business, he applied for Youth Development Fund and was funded to the tune of P100 000.00 to boost the business.
Currently he has five employees. Baitshoki says the business is doing well and the demand for furniture is very high but he is limited by low production capacity. His major clients are the corporate sector and government. “The market demand is very high. The problem is I have little capital which does not allow me to beat my competitors because of less production,” he said. To expand the business Baitshoki said he needs the industrial machines to increase production capacity. “Currently we are using small machines.
The big machines will help us increase the speed of production and will be able to manufacture more furniture,” he said. He is determined to grow the business beyond its current market in order to penetrate the national market. “I see the business being the supplier of other furniture shops countrywide, as our major service is manufacturing. I want to approach CEDA to seek more funding,” said Baitshoki.
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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