The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, said that the Handa Group of Companies continues to contribute to the government of Botswana’s gross domestic product, employment creation and economic diversification.
The minister said this when officially opening Woolworths store in Game City Shopping Centre on Thursday.
Siele said the impact of the global economic down turn was one of the challenges that had to be overcome to make investments a reality. He stated that the Handa Group of Companies has been involved in both retail and manufacturing sectors that include Woolworths, Truworths, Identity, Billabong, and Finishing Touch.
Siele said Woolworths started operating in Botswana by opening its first store in Gaborone at Broadhurst in March 1988, adding that Woolworths has, over the last 23 years, opened stores country wide and the Game City store is the 19th, which brings the total number of stores in the Handa Group to 28. He said on aggregate, the staff compliment for Botswana stores is 460.
“The employment of citizens of this country by Woolworths goes a long way in assisting government in her bid to reduce the unemployment rate,” said Siele.
He thanked the Handa Group for the significant contribution they made in their support over the 31 charities which include SOS, Hospice, Holy Cross and Stepping Stone Orphan Centre. He said that also gives hope that the government’s call for the poverty alleviation drive has been heeded.
“Good industrial relations are governed to a larger extent by the International Labour Organization convention which serves as standard for all members,” said Siele.
For his part, the Chairman of Handa Group, Ish Handa, revealed that by the end of 2011, they would have opened 23 Woolworths stores in Botswana in 23 years. He said that they believe that stores should reach customers and not wait for customers to reach stores. He stated that, to many customers, Woolworths is more like a trusted friend rather than merely a place to shop.
According to Handa, 95 percent of the stores are managed by Batswana managers who have been trained over the years. He said in launching of the store, they have full confidence that they will carry through the philosophy of treating customers as friends and guest.
“As we are part of every community where there is Woolworth, we have a duty and responsibility to its prosperity and growth,” said Handa.
Handa also handed over 250 blankets and 500 units of children’s clothing altogether worth P60, 000 to minister Siele to give to charities of his choice.