The country’s first venture capital outfit, Peo Venture Capital, said this week that Batswana are increasingly becoming business savvy. The Executive Director of Peo Venture Capital, Judy Tsonope, said in an interview that she is elated by the quality of project proposals that they are receiving.
“You can really see that people are now becoming innovative. I have seen some improvement over the years,” said the former Deputy CEO of Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency.
She is, however, worried by the fact that the country has few mentors.
“Today’s business class is first generation in business and most of them are still active in business and don’t have the time to mentor,” she said.
Despite the lack of mentors, she said the venture capital firm is assisting those that they fund to up-skill them technically through consultants and in-house coaching.
One of the factors leading to folding up of citizen owned businesses is poor managerial skills, particularly finance.
“Most businesses go under because of poor financial management, not because of lack of market. Majority of people, when they get into business, they don’t usually understand the difference between turnover and profit. That is why when we finance companies, we take a stake in them. We do that in order to give guidance, we are not necessarily policing the companies that we fund but are merely assisting in giving strategic vision,” she explained.
Partnering with project promoters has proved to be worthy;
this is because even after divesting from the company, such companies continue to run successfully.
“We also want to make sure that the businesses are sustainable in the long run. When businesses are sustainable, it means that they would be able to make loan repayments. Our fund is a revolving one and when people make repayment it means that others also have a chance to benefit. When you look at it, even shareholders of the company are not drawing dividends at the end of the year in order to allow more people to benefit from the fund,” she said.
Peo Venture Capital is social investment vehicle owned by Debswana and De Beers. The fund was created some 11 years at the tune of P40 million and has in the process financed 59 projects ÔÇô both start ups and expansions. The fund has created over 1200 jobs “and the numbers are growing. Some of the companies have not yet reached their full capacity,” explained the Executive Director.
Amongst others, Landscape Solutions is a flagship of the fund’s success. Its manager, Quett Rabai told Sunday Standard that it is through Peo Venture Capital that he managed to grow from a base of less 10 employees in Jwaneng to over 120 staff compliment.
“Today we are big brand and we are well recognised in the industry.
We currently have contracts with big institutes such as the University of Botswana, Gaborone Technical College and many others. We managed to spread our wings through out the country,” he said. Landscape Solutions is a 100% citizen-owned company.