Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) last week launched its first Business Den beneficiary, Alosa Group of Companies in Francistown. BDC first started its Business Den initiative in March 2020 which is a flagship program aimed at reaching out to ambitious and self driven youth entrepreneurs to allow them to secure funding on a grant basis. This support by BDC is accompanied by mentorship and networking opportunities for the beneficiaries. Alosa Group of Companies is a 100 percent citizen owned company which deals with among others manufacturing and supplying of stock feed. The company has its stock feed processing facility in Francistown Light Industrial area.
Through this Business Den initiative, BDC opened a competition in 2020 to young citizen entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35 with ideas for either a new or existing business seeking expansion opportunities. Alosa Group of Companies was selected as the winner among 243 business competitors and was funded to a tune of P500 000 as a grant. The competition was open to businesses across all sectors. The launch of the Business Den winner had been suspended by BDC owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Narrating the journey of how the company started the Promoter and Founder of Alosa Group of Companies Samuel Ntshiwa began by commending BDC for its support. He said in 2021 BDC called him and his team for submittal of proposals and it was a lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ntshiwa who is a Mining Engineer by profession said despite the challenges brought by this lockdown they drafted a proposal with his team to grasp this opportunity. He said sometime in 2021 they won the Business Den competition.
“At that time I was running a tyre service shop in Gaborone. With the amount of funds the BDC availed to us I decided to let my business partner in Gaborone to run the tyre service shop and came and established this business here. I told myself that this is a great opportunity that I cannot afford to lose,” he said.
He said the company then commenced production in February 2022, with the initial production of mixed fowl feed (10kg and 50kg bags) The business then started retailing other brand products including chicken feeds and starter feeds. Ntshiwa however said they incurred some challenges along the way as they were new in the industry. He said they somehow maneuvered their way through these challenges. Through the challenging process, they began supplying a number of customers in the region.
“There was so much reception of our products in the market. We also realized that there was a niche in the market more so that here in the North Region there is less industrialization or manufacturing companies. I then thought if this is the case, then we can also branch into the processing of stock feed,” he added.
He said they then started processing foul and pig feed and the market was very receptive. He said they had a huge number of clients and have managed to retain them. Ntshiwa said while there was shortage of supplies for livestock feed processing locally such as yellow maize, sorghum and rice they began importing these products from outside the country. He said they had glitches with transportation issues and their sales dropped. They however persevered because they knew that there was a vibrant market for their products.
“Up to now we have managed to supply 120 tonnes of stock feed. The reception of our product in the market has been impressive. The retention of our pool of clients has been a result of our exceptional customer service culture. We have also identified another niche in the market which is manufacturing of these feeds,” he said.
He said when they did their marketing analysis they realized that there was only one company in Francistown which manufactured stock feed in the region at large scale and they identified that as an opportunity to explore. He said in an effort to increase production they are currently working around the clock to introduce an automated processing machinery in their facility. The company currently has eight employees.
Giving a keynote address the Managing Director of BDC Cross Kgosidiile said their organization was set up to drive projects of a similar nature which have commercial viability and sustainability.
“Over the past 52 years, BDC’s role has been to transform Botswana’s economy through partnership and leading the growth and competitiveness of the private sector with the main objective of further diversifying the economy, creating sustainable jobs for Batswana, export promotion and placing Botswana as an attractive investment destination,” he said.
Among other important issues Kgosidiile said BDC intends to support the youth by cultivating entrepreneurship, providing an enabling environment and exploring opportunities that will drive Botswana towards and advanced economy. He said they are confident that the results that will be delivered in this project will fulfill Botswana’s sustainable development goals and reduce the national import bill to become self sufficient in the production of animal feeds. He also said as BDC grows and evolves, it strives to continuously deliver on impactful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which is in line with their mandate. Established in 1970, under the Companies Act, BDC is a company fully owned by government and it is mandated to facilitate and support funding of commercially viable enterprises that contribute towards diversification of the country’s economy. This includes sectors such as manufacturing, energy, Industry, Property, Services, Tourism, Innovation and Technology.