The tour was also aimed at enlightening the media fraternity on how LEA interventions provided to its SMME clients, covering all aspects of the interventions has impacted on the growth of their businesses.
The first business to be approached was, Hansonic Concrete Products, a brick and tile manufacturing company owned by Margaret Newman Mokgosi. The business is based in Francistown. Briefing the media, Mokgosi said that she began her tile manufacturing company in 2012 after finding that there was a niche in the market especially in the tile industry.
“The company manufactures roofing tiles like Double Roman, tapered ridges, V Ridges, Hip staters and different bricks. We supply on demand and most of our products are bought in the north region from Francistown to Masunga and even as far as Kasane and Kazungula. We are currently working on being certified by the Botswana Bureau of Standards,” she said.
Mokgosi who is an accountant by profession said that the company like any other business has experienced its own share of challenges more so that there is stiff competition in the industry. She also said that when she started the business there was a challenge of registration but LEA came to her assistance and the company finally acquired registration in 2015. She said the business was self-financed at P400 000 and has a total of five employees who are all locals.
“LEA has been outstanding in their assistance to this company in many ways such as cooperation when enquiries are made, assistance in the knowledge and training, supervision of business progress and helping identify markets,” she said.
Mokgosi said that LEA has also assisted them with attending business seminars and expositions where they managed to network with other organizations. She also said that they are currently looking at securing their own plot in Tsamaya village as they are currently leasing the place.
The team also visited Dumela Lodge, one of the most beautiful lodges which is in the outskirts of Francistown. The lodge is a 100 percent citizen owned by Dominique Mothukuthedi. It has been in operation since 2006.
Briefing the media about his business Mothukuthedi said that the area where his Lodge business sits used to be a dumping site. He said his project was funded by Citizen Enterpreneurial Development Agency (CEDA). He said LEA helped him to identify his market in the tourism industry. He said more often he benefits from the tourists on transit through Francistown who prefer to use his services.
“Our Lodge offers camping facilities and more often tourists particularly those from South Africa on transit use our facilities and services. Some of them prefer to bring their caravans and we charge them for camping in our facilities. We currently have seven tented chalets and a beautiful restaurant. Most of our clients are international tourists from Germany, England and South Africa,” he said.
Mothukuthedi said LEA helped him attend a number of seminars and exposititions such as the Indaba in Durban where he networked with other businesspeople from the Hotel and Tourism industry. He also said that through LEA he has managed to attend a number of workshops which were very beneficial.
“Just like any other business we have incurred a number of challenges particularly the 2008 recession. We also affected by the closure of mines in Francistown and the surrounding areas as we used to have clients from them,” he said.
He said the lodge currently employees 15 employees who are all locals.
One of the businesses that was visited was Francistown Knitters which is a family textile business. The company which is one of the success stories of Francistown was started in 1982 as an informal business. The business started with one domestic hand knitting machine for jerseys and was run from home, sales were done from door to door and under a tree on Haskins street.
The representative of the company, Peter Mathambo said Francistown Kniters was registered and incorporated in 1992 with a vision to manufacture and supply Primary Schools. He said through the years the company sought financing and assistance from various government funding iniatiatives from financial institutions. The company has a factory in white city industrial in Francistown.
“Francistown Knitters has comprehensive retail network of nine outlets, three in Francistown, one in Tonota, One in Orapa, One in Nata an another one in Palapye. We are certified by the Botswana Bureau of Standards for Quality Management Standards,” he said.
Mathambo said they currently employ 108 staff members. Sixty work in the factory, eight are in the warehouse, 25 in retail outlets and seven in administration.
Francistown Knitters produces uniforms, security wear, corporate wear, corporate and leisure wear. Touching on the challenges he said there is shortage of skilled machinists, finance for expansion, stiff competition in the industry and high cost of raw materials.
He however said LEA has assisted his organization with the re-branding exercise, training of staff, assisting with other business interventions and marketing amongst others.