It was six months ago when a relatively new bank in Botswana, Banc ABC, announced a three-year partnership worth P8.3m with the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
The deal came at a time when the Zebras needed sponsors in their bid to qualify for their second major tournament, having been at the 2012 African Nations Cup. While there have been some challenges along the way, Banc ABC managing director, Jitto Kurian, has said that they have no qualms about their marriage, instead he is looking forward to a bright future.
In recent times, Banc ABC has gone all out to market their partnership with the Zebras with media adverts and bill boards. Upon reaching their head office in the eastern part of Gaborone, one is met by a bold writing on top of their building, “Banc ABC Proud Sponsors of the Zebras.”
It is a move which was taken not only to promote the Zebras but also attract potential clients to the institution.
At the Zebras’ game against Malawi in midweek, the bank’s employees had boards with them which had messages of encouragement to the national team. In the eyes of many, Banc ABC has come up with different approaches in a bid to support something which could benefit the Zebras in the end.
“So far we’re happy with the partnership and when we signed this deal, we wanted to take the Zebras and our bank to the people. For us sponsoring the Zebras is an investment as much as development.
Yes, we want to benefit in the end but being involved in such investments go with the spirit of Banc ABC,” said Kurian from the comfort of his office at Fairgrounds Park on Thursday afternoon.
He pointed out that the Zebras have enormous potential and its appeal and following in Botswana is unrivalled. He said that their partnership is very logical as they are involved in sponsoring football in other countries like Tanzania and Zimbabwe. He was quick to note that while sponsoring Zebras is very important to his institution, it is without doubt that both parties should benefit.
“We’ve been interested in the development of football in Botswana for a very long time. We were interested in sponsoring the Top 8 tournament before it was taken by Mascom,” he said.
While the Zebras have seen their support going down in recent times. Kurian has pleaded with Batswana not to lose hope. He said that their sponsorship is not performance-based instead they want to help in improving the team’s rankings.
“It would have been wrong for us to base our sponsorship on performance. Every team goes through cycles and the Zebras are no different. We believe that we should stick with the team even during their lows. That’s also the strategy we’ve taken in business,” the Banc ABC boss said.
In recent times, BFA has attracted negative publicity from the media, something which is not good for sponsors. But the Indian-born MD said that in their deal, there are clear demarcations.
“It is no doubt that negative publicity is a concern but regular communication between partners is very important. Every relationship has its ups and downs and you have to navigate that. I have to make it clear that it is the responsibility of BFA to manage the sponsorship. I’ve had a meeting with the new (BFA) CEO Keith Masters and we’re looking forward to a healthy relationship. I must say that the new executive at BFA has done well so far,” he said.
Banc ABC sponsorship comprises of three elements which are: fixed annual fees, performance bonus and joint marketing and commercial initiatives.
The deal will be split into three years (2012-2015) with Banc ABC paying P2.7m in the first year. The second year will be another P2.7m with the third year being P2.9m.
Banc ABC has six branches in Botswana, four in Gaborone, one in Maun and the other in Francistown.
Kurian said that they will be opening two other branches in Palapye and Selebi-Phikwe in the near future.