Election year comes every five years in Botswana, and for some, this is the time to rake in profits while some lose big time.
Nevertheless, this is the year where aspiring council candidates and Members of Parliament get to spend their last Thebes to secure their future for the coming five years.
Just like the past election years, this time around we have seen political parties flex their muscles and spend large sums of money, especially over the last year of the political race, transporting their candidates and staff, political consultants, communication costs, food and branding just to mention a few.
This is usually done with an effort to influence the decision-making progress of the voters. The money is mostly contributions either money, which is usually loaned or comes from donors as well as groups who usually spend millions on the political race horse significant to their interests.
For most small businesses, this is the year they get to have a small bite of the cake. For some of the entrepreneurs, they feel this once-off opportunity does not add any value while others take advantage to make as much profit as they can and expand.
According to Mabutsane-based entrepreneur Moarabea Tebesi, election year had a good impact on his business.
Operating a mobile tuckshop where he sells snacks ranging from sweets, popcorn, chips and Cool Time, Tebesi said he had a profitable year compared to others.
He said from attending rallies and political meetings, he managed to sell more products compared to other years.
“I know that I am a small time entrepreneur, but the profit that I make here usually helps me and my family. Small as it might appear, it makes a huge difference in my life.
I have been saving the entire amount that I got this year and will invest it in farming, which will definitely give me my return on investment,” he said.
Another Jwaneng-based business owner, Michelle Tsagae, said through her consultancy company, she managed to provide merchandise for some council candidates.
“I am still struggling to secure investment, find a team, let alone have a perfect structure. I need money for all this to happen,” she said.
Another entrepreneur, Tapologo Ditau who has been in the logistics business for more than five years, advised that once one carried their own water, they get to appreciate the value of every drop.
According to Ditau, she has managed to make more profit compared to other days during the campaign for elections.
“As you can see, we have been busy transporting people to the polling stations and back. Crazy as it gets, at the end of the day I will go home smiling.
I prefer to look at the bigger picture and focus on the difference every thebe can make for me. I have dreams of expanding and having my own fleet,” she said.
For decades, most of the local SMEs have been struggling to grow past infancy stage, as they fail during the establishment phase, which is in the first three years of operation.
Reports have also revealed that the remaining ones usually continue to operate under uncertain conditions. They tend to struggle to access both the local and export markets due to low product and service quality, preference of import markets and inconsistency in production, lack of entrepreneurial skills, lack of finance and absence of deliberate policy instruments or mechanisms to protect the local supplier.
However, it has been highlighted that SMEs play a critical role in accomplishing the industrial and economic development of the economy through employment creation.
Most of them are concentrated in the supplies, service industry and have the potential to create employment.