BY PATIENCE RADISOENG
PALAPYE – The Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the central part of the country that have been aided by Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) have acknowledged efforts made by the corporation as it continues to foster them into competitive and sustainable businesses.
SMEs doing business in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality and tourism in Shakwe, Mahalapye, Palapye and Serowe shared their sentiments during a media tour of LEA capacitated businesses projects on the 7th and 8th May 2019.
The first stop was at Shakwe by the farm named Chakanaka which is owned by the Moalosi family. They specialise in production of Tomatoes, Green Mealies, Green Pepper and Butternut.
“LEA registered us in 2016 and helped us with advices especially with the business plan until our loan get approved in December 2017. We were funded with 2 hectares (549 thousand pula) but fortunately with the money from the 2 hectares, we went to South Africa and bought the irrigation equipment as well as managed to cover 5 hectares thus expanding our ploughing,” said Colin Mothibi Moalosi.
Adding that their first crop was on the 6th of May 2018 where they managed to plough about 4 hectares, even though they experienced natural disasters especially in winter as the cold was too much but by the end of season the result were really good.
He said they managed to pay LEA first instalment and second instalment at once as they did not want to be behind with paying the loan.
“We have about 10 employees whom we try to pay above minimum wage so that we can retain them and be able to grow this business together as I still believe we can still grow and hire more people,” Moalosi said.
He stated that they do not have much problem with marketing because they plough products that are eaten everyday especially tomato which they want it to be their main crop.
The next stop was Diponeng Hotel which is located at Mahalapye which is owned by Gotweng Gabotlale and got established in 2013 with 13 rooms and intending to grow in the near future
“LEA has been supporting us since 2016 and the partnership has been good, we really appreciate their assistance in terms of human development, staff empowerment, marketing and logo and we are known all over because of them.
She said since they got funded by LEA they got a major transformation as they were offered 2 million, a loan that they are in the 5th year paying for it and left with 7 years to finish paying for it.
She said they have 16 employees and wish to expand the hotel and stated that her challenge is money because the funders have limitation with funding and whatever needed after that the owner have to see what to do so that the business keep on running and maintained.
Meanwhile Task manufacturers at Palapye which is owned by Pinnie Maruatona and makes bedding, School uniform and Protective Clothing.
Maruatona applauded LEA for the interventions they have made since they funded her in. She however said she hopes to secure a large piece of land to allow the company to expand their operations to produce enough goods for export.
Then we went to Serowe based Poultry Abattoir owned Cecilia Opelokgale who plans to export poultry meat as she has been able to penetrate the local market and recorded good success despite the challenges.
She said she is already dominating in the Central region and she wants to start exporting to expand her business.
“I have not yet established the market in other countries but I have seen potential in some countries. I am already supplying the whole central district and have started North, I have grown in the local market so I can go beyond borders,” said Opelokgale.
Her abattoir is named Copel Rancho and started in 2004 but resumed production in 2008. The business is still assisted by LEA through training and mentoring.
Opelokgale explained that Copel Rancho Abattoir’s mandate is to group small poultry farms and sell through one marketing channel. There are about 50 small farmers that are slaughtering in the abattoir.
As part of her expansion plans, Opelokgale now has the slaughtering machine which enable them to slaughter 500 birds per hour.