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Vaka dismisses allegations against Bona Life

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 Bona Life Chief Executive Officer, Regina Sikalesele-Vaka has dismissed all allegations against Bona Life over the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) multi-million Pula funds which are currently under investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). CMB has filed a P650 million suit against Sikalesele-Vaka. CMB’s lawyers, Kanjabanga & Associates, are demanding P650 million from the Bona Life CEO in her personal capacity, which they say is damages for alleged conduct in the running of the insurer.

CMB and BPOPF are partners in Botswana Opportunities Fund (BOP), which in turn holds 40 percent of Bona Life. CMB separately holds another 25 percent, while Sikalesele-Vaka holds 25 percent. Sikalesele-Vaka revealed on Thursday that the letter written by CMB Directors to the CEO of Bona Life is defamatory and intended to cause permanent damage to the reputation of the CEO and Bona Life Brand. “This is addressed through appropriate legal channels. The claim for P650 million is invalid, made in bad faith and cannot be sustained in any court of law.

The authors of the letter does not have authority to represent CMB which is under statutory management and can only be represented by the statutory manager,” said Vaka. She explained that the authors of the letter, Rapula Okaile who is also a director of Bona Life is not a shareholder of Bona Life so he does not have a claim against the CEO. Currently, Bona Life is in a public dispute with BPOPF (its partner in BOP) over the management and ownership of the BOP. The BPOPF released approximately P477 million pensioner funds to be managed by CMB, which cannot be fully accounted for. After making some investments in different companies including Bona Life, CMB sold the BOP to its holding company CMA for P50 million and dismissed the BPOPF from the BOP.

Vaka said Bona Life reported CMB to Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) because Bona Life was receiving inconsistent reports on its investments with CMB and it became aware of a petition to liquidate CMB Fund 1, a subsidiary of CMB which holds assets in which Bona Life has an interest and that CMB was under investigation by the DCEC for possible criminal offenses. Bona Life has reported its challenges to NBFIRA to enable it to perform its role of protecting the clients of Bona Life in accordance with the law. Currently, Bona Life has some investments made through CMB, which is currently under statutory management and is being investigated by the DCEC, 84 percent of the funds are held in Bona Life and invested in secure Botswana government bonds and fixed instruments.

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Matambo calls on financial sector to pick GDP

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Finance Minister, kenneth Matambo

Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo has announced that government is committed to support financial service sector to prop up the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Currently contributing over 13 percent to GDP, Matambo said the sector has potential to increase its share. “Hence government’s interest in the sector,” said Matambo addressing delegates at the inaugural Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), Global Financial Summit.

The country has built a strong, resilient and fast growing financial sector underpinned by a robust regulatory framework. The finance minister who is expected to step down next year, noted that government’s commitment to the financial service sector has this year been buttressed by a number of laws passed in July relating to money laundering activities.

In addition, Matambo said the continued investment in the development of information, communication and technologies (ICTs) backbone infrastructure is also to support local banks’ rising appetite for online services.

The Minister said the country remains committed to maintaining micro-economic stability to spur private sector participation in the economy. “Our vision is to become a high income country by 2036,” said Matambo, challenging the private sector to step forward and help government to develop the country, bemoaning the low levels of financial inclusion and shallow domestic capital markets.

He said the private sector should come up with more initiatives to develop further the local capital markets. The Minister’s sentiments were also shared by Martin Davies, Managing Director for Emerging Markets and Africa at Deloitte who has challenged the country to start dealing with its low manufacturing value add.

“How do we start to diversify beyond the single commodity economy,” quizzed Davies, adding that manufacturing increase is vital for low inequality across the country.

“Inequality results in bad public policy, as the state starts to believe and think they have to intervene more,” said Davies, highlighting that the country needs to move away from the absolute concept of state drive growth. Meanwhile, minister Matambo has applauded the private sector for leading economic dialogue in the country through events such as the BIHL Global Finance Summit.

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First Lady advises women entrepreneurs

Keikantse Lesemela

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First lady, Neo Masisi

First Lady, Neo Masisi has urged women entrepreneurs to bring change in the economic development of the country and the rest of Africa.

Speaking during the Lioness Lean in Africa breakfast on Friday, Masisi said women entrepreneurs are remarkable engines of economic growth and job creation. “I believe women entrepreneurs hold incredible potential and credentials on the continent because Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.

It is projected that millions of much needed jobs will be created over the next decade and these will be created predominantly through small businesses which are mostly run by women,” said Masisi.She highlighted that women entrepreneurs are also the most powerful engine for equitably distributing growth and they are also solutions for addressing inequality on the continent.

“It is a proven fact that for many generations, women understand the simple concept of barter and commerce. These are the role models of our past and our present and they will continue to inspire new generations to do more for business to grow,” she said.

The Lioness Lean In Breakfast Series brings together inspirational and successful women entrepreneurs to share, inspire and connect with the next generation of great women-led start-ups.

The platform is based on a breakfast networking and speaker presentation format, which has been organized in locations across the African continent for the past year by Lionesses of Africa, empowering over one million women entrepreneurs across the continent.

Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Personal Markets, Omphemetse Dube said they are pleased to bring the Lionesses of Africa Lean In platform to Botswana once again to bring together women entrepreneurs in the country and help to nurture their growth further.

“Botswana is blessed with a number of thriving female entrepreneurs, and the potential for the next generation of talent is strong. Platforms such as this are therefore paramount in growing the cause and we as a bank are proud to help champion that movement further,” said Dube.

Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa,Melanie Hawken noted that Gaborone is a growing and exciting centre for women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. “This is a must-attend event for women entrepreneurs in the country as it gives them the opportunity to hear the inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses here,” she said.

The annual Lionesses of Africa event allows entrepreneurs to benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have seen and experienced it all and to also provide an excellent opportunity for networking.

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