Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) Managing Director Bashi Gaetsaloe says they have returned the corporation to profitability since implementing a five year strategy which is now half way through. Gaetsaloe said this on Wednesday at a stakeholder engagement where the organisation was also presenting its financial results for the year. According to Gaetsaloe, they have returned BDC to profitability with P484 million in cumulative profits since the implementation of the turnaround strategy. Gaetsaloe told stakeholders that they were able to achieve this through improvement of businesses among them the Lobatse Clay Works. BDC has made huge investments over the year amounting to P600 million which were put in various projects, including Nampak in Lobatse and many others. Besides returning to profitability, the corporation says it was able to create 779 new jobs in the period between July 2016 to June 2017 and generated exports of P92 million. BDC MD said over the next 12 months they would be fast-tracking conversion of the pipeline which needs to be converted into real projects and also execute at least one regional project. Gaetsaloe said they have built an incredible pipeline and the challenge is access to funding to start those projects and added that they did not succeed in their bid to secure guarantee from government as a way to lowering cost of funding low cost projects. He further told stakeholders that development projects in their nature tend to be high risk and therefore securing funding for them always seem to be a challenge.
In response to the difficulty in accessing funding, Gaetsaloe said they had to come with other ways, including raising funding on non-guarantee basis and aligning business to the new economic realities as well as heavily monitoring their portfolios. The 2017 financial year was the most challenging one post the implementation of the turnaround strategy, according to Gaetsaloe. He, however, said the expectation is that this will normalise as the company has created successes. BDC, he says, has a robust balance sheet and has made huge divestments over the year, including selling a total of 7.3 million shares in Sechaba Brewery Holdings Limited. The total value of divestments is said to stand at P289 million but the corporation says this is not accounted as part of the profits. In terms of financial performance for the 2017 financial year, BDC total income closed the year P273 million with Profit before tax of P150 million.