Batswana’s growing entrepreneurship welcome

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 23 February 2016   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang

The overwhelming interest of Botswana citizens in the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) Initial Public Offering (IPO) points to a welcome shift in mindset. It also points to a nation eager to have a stake in its businesses. For years citizens’ interest in investing in companies listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has been lukewarm, unconvincing at most. Things, it now shows, are changing. All and sundry are clamouring for a stake in the national telecoms player – from students that made savings from allowances to farmers whose pride for years has been the count of their cattle herd. Under pressure from a severe drought, farmers are now tending to be more patient with those preaching alternative investments. Some have had to see their equipment and property auctioned off by their financiers as drought made it difficult for them to produce from their farms to meet their financial obligations. It has been a very difficult and trying time for farmers and hence the expectation is that they make a considerable number of people who are looking at diversifying their portfolios by investing in shares. Public education in the BTCL IPO has also been the best by far. The road shows, electronic and print media exposure have been massive. This, therefore, means that locals cannot claim to have had their asset sold behind their back. Everyone has been extended a chance. Those who had a little saving have made their bids. Others have had to dispose off underperforming assets to get BTCL stake. Batswana should continue to embrace new ways of investing and pursue entrepreneurship with increased passion. This is important in diversifying not only personal business risks but the overall economy. That the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has named Botswana as a leading African country – together with Senegal – in entrepreneurial development pays credence to locals’ daring commercial spirit. Batswana, GEM shows, are daring in their entrepreneurial pursuits, only mostly let down by inexperience, conspicuous consumption and resource challenges. Year-on-year the number of Batswana adults opening new businesses stands at 33 percent, according to GEM. And now with the prospects of benefits from the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) and the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) more citizens, young and old, are entering the business space. Government should embrace this by continuing to avail more opportunities for citizens. A privatisation of another Government-owned parastatal would be more welcomed, even more so that Government’s resources are fully stretched to provide for many other primary needs. The BSE’s crusade to educate more people on shares should remain an ongoing exercise as is the push to have more local companies list with them. It is for this reason that the forthcoming conference that aims at encouraging local companies to list on the BSE is very much welcome. This stands to open up more investment options for citizens while giving companies the much needed revenue for expansion and growth.  


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