Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) has pledged financial support to help its displaced Chibuku retailers to set up structures across the country as government is determined to introduce traditional beer regulations next month.
The new rules that were supposed to have been implemented in January will bar in-home sale of home-brewed drinks that include Chibuku, leaving thousands of shebeen owners having no space to operate from.
KBL will bailout Botswana Breweries Limited (BBL), its traditional beer arm by setting aside P10 million to help displaced retailers put up structures.
“We are extremely nervous about it (regulations), but we are doing a lot about it,” Hloni Matsela, the group Managing Director said.
“We will be helping retailers establish themselves in new locations,” Matsela added.
Matsela said they will help retailers build structures, especially in highly populated areas. The four major routes served by BBL are Gaborone, Francistown, Palapye and Lobatse.
Currently, BBL brand Chibuku is sold in unlicensed homesteads with licensed retailers reluctant to sell the drink on their counters.
Matsela describes the financial assistance as part of Corporate Social Investment, which can be viewed in the same light as Kickstart, another scheme by the brewer meant to create young entrepreneurs.
He admitted the facility will face challenges as many Batswana do not have commercial land to set up businesses.
According to a survey conducted for BBL by Dr. N. Forcheh and Dr. SRT. Moeng of the University of Botswana in 2009, most of the Chibuku businesses are operated by women.
“This implies that if a law was made that prevented operating outlets, many more women would be affected than men,” the survey noted.
In the survey, in which 1936 retailers operating Chibuku outlets and depots participated, 87 percent of retailers reported their current business site as self owned or family property.
Only a few, 9 percent of the retailers were operating from rented premises and females were less likely to rent business premises compared to males with 6.4 percent of the females reported renting the current premises compare to 17 percent of the male reporting to be renting their current Chibuku business premises.
The survey showed that an overwhelming majority of retailers reported that their current business premise was self-owned or a family property.
Under the new regulations, traditional beer will only be sold from licensed and commercial premises. Equally, traditional beer operators would have to apply for a license for P250.00 while operating hours will be regulated.
Unpackaged traditional beers that include famous names Setopoti, Mokuru, Mokoko O Nchebile or Khadi, the operators will have to register their businesses with the tribal authorities.
The regulations come at a time when BBL had come up with a raft of initiatives meant to improve the image of traditional beer sales.
According to Sechaba Brewery Holdings 2010 annual report, the brewer was in the process of is recruiting licensed liquor retailers to sell Chibuku and the process has reported an element of success.
Before government announced the new regulations, BBL tried to formalise the sale of Chibuku with initiatives like Club Chibuku Shebeens Upgrade Programme.
The programme involves the transformation of the look and feel of Chibuku traditional beer outlets by improving their overall management and point of sale operations.
The other was the Chibuku Beer Gardens Programme which followed the government’s notice of its intention to regulate the sale of traditional beer, BBL invested P3 m in a channel formalisation exercise which sought to create new markets in the licensed trade.
This is done through the Chibuku Beer Gardens Programme where clearly designated outlets will operate under the new regulations ÔÇô identical to those stipulated for bars. These include making Chibuku available in what have traditionally been clear beer outlets, as well as developing beer gardens by maximising on available licensed space, adequate seating areas and shaded surrounds.
The programme targets those outlets that are ready for licensing as well as preparing existing Chibuku depots for licensing once the regulations are promulgated.
It is estimated that there are between 4000 and 6000 retailers operating either as outlets or depots nationwide.