A report titled “Botswana journal of African studies 2014” attempt to give one of the earliest accounts on how entrepreneurial spirit has been passed across generations in Botswana. A number of success stories are however cited among the white commercial farmers in the Tuli Block as compared to the other natives across the country.
In its strive to keep the conversation on citizens wealth creation going, the local bourse – Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) through its monthly open bell ceremony this week hosted some of the most successful Batswana families which are running businesses mostly around the capital – Gaborone. Amongst them it was former cabinet minister Charles Tibone, transport and logistics masterminds Talita and Tshepo Monnakgotla of AT&T Monnakgotla group as well as prominent businessman Ishmael Nshakazhogwe of Zambezi Group.
The topic of discussion, as moderated by BSE’s Kopano Bolokwe was “Current Economic Landscape – Challenges & Opportunities around Family Owned Businesses in Botswana”.
BSE’s Chief Executive Thapelo Tsheole said at the event that there has been reluctance amongst family owned businesses in Botswana to list their shares at the local bourse.
“Family firms may fear that going public might threaten the family’s authority, and challenge their identity, values and independence,” he said.
According to the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Global Family Business Center succession will always be an emotive issue, which is all the more reason why it needs to be managed on a professional rather than a personal basis.
Too many family firms are still approaching it as a one-off event rather than a long-term process.
The report also argues that the small nature of businesses owned by local Batswana are such that the children are not attracted to the businesses unlike with case of businesses owned by settlers who have actually managed to pass own business from one generation to another.
Tshepo Monnakgotla, the co-owner of AT&T Monnakgotla group seems to have intentions to change the narrative, as he made it clear of the intention to hand over the business to his heir. Monnakgotla said while he has not closed out the idea of one day listing his group of companies at the BSE, “We are not there yet”. He said the intention is put up an independent board that will oversee professional management already in place.
“One needs psychological preparedness to make some of the sound business decisions as well as being technically ready,” said Monnakgotla.
With sound ground rules, International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Global Family Business Center said, things can work out well and everybody can earn a return as the money grows over the years. The report stated that ‘professionalising’ of the next generation will help to close the credibility gap. It is from small family enterprises that multinational corporations like Toyota, BMW and so on, were born.
BSE Chief executive said in a previous survey they carried, it became clear that family owners in Botswana prefer employing other family members and 51 percent of unlisted firms agreed that they preferred to hire a family candidate with the same skills as a non-family candidate.
Tsheole said some attributes that define and influence the way family firms do business include the fact that a family business is more than just an investment, with family owners deriving significant non-financial benefits from their firm such as the influence that can come with owning and controlling a firm that bears their name.