Choppies directors like to narrate how their empire started from humble beginnings in Lobatse as just one corner shop. The rest as they always say is history.
We are today talking about a company whose shares at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were being snapped up like fat cakes following its listing and has gone a step further by signalling its intention to acquire ten stores in Kenya, which is one of the most vibrant economies in Africa.
Botswana has a number of success stories such as Choppies that continue to demonstrate that starting up in a less populated market like ours should never be used as an excuse for one’s inability to think big.
Along with Letshego Holdings Limited, Choppies have proved doubters wrong that though coming from a less populated environment, it cannot disadvantage a Botswana business in its quest to penetrate and spread into African markets.
We need to see more of the Choppies and Letshego examples from Botswana. Gone are those days when only companies from South Africa were seen to possess the muscles to penetrate the African market.
We can only hope that as the likes of Choppies and Letshego continue their African expansion, they also earn good reputation in their new countries of operations as responsible entities to the communities, as well as being desirable employers.
Sefalana has recently announced its ambitious drive to manufacture soft drinks and various consumables with the aim to target African markets.
It is our hope that Sefalana’s desire would be a success story, in the same way as Choppies and Letshego, or even exceed expectations.
Perhaps it is time citizen entrepreneurship funders seriously consider and encourage the locals to come up with projects that aim to expand beyond the Botswana market.
We need to see lenders showing the willingness to support such ambitions and where possible accommodate the risks associated with such ventures rather than shutting the doors on the young entrepreneurs’ dreams.