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Last Updated
Monday 14 June 2021, 19:13 pm.
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CA Sales responds to President's housing appeal

Recently CA Sales director, Jagdish Shah, and his partner, Ian Thompson, pledged to President Ian Khama that they would build 72 houses for the needy for roughly P8 million. Their gesture prompted several companies to participate in President Khama's Housing Appeal. In this interview with Mmegi's MONKAGEDI GAOTLHOBOGWE, Jagdish Shah explains the project
By (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: CA Sales responds to President's housing appeal








Mmegi: You are spending eight million Pula on President Khama's housing project in hard times when the world is still battling a recession?

Jagdish: We have these expenses spread over six years; that is P75,000 per month. Six years is a long cycle and we are sure that the tough present time will turn in good time during the cycle.

Mmegi: Why only now? What is in it for you as CA Sales Group or individual directors?

Jagdish: We were simply moved to do something for the needy when we heard the president making a housing appeal for the needy on August 7 this year in his address in Molepolole. The message was directed at the private sector, to come forward and assist in giving dignity to those people that are worst effected by the critical housing shortage.

To us, dignity, which is one of the president's 5D's, cannot be achieved without some absolute basic essentials, one of which has to be a safe and secure environment for the recipient families to live and raise their children in. Further to this it is also one of the goals of Vision 2016 for all Batswana to have a home in which to raise their family.

Why now? The President has just launched this housing appeal as one of his pet projects. He is the first President to make this call, and my partner and I found the challenge quite exciting. It was an opportunity to serve the needy in a special way, providing them with decent accommodation; a two-bedroom house, with running water, a lounge, kitchen and toilet. That is something worth supporting.

We are not only starting to be involved with the needy of our society now. CA Sales and myself in my personal capacity spend over P1 million a year in various charitable causes benefiting Batswana. I am the patron for a leading local HIV NGO, BONEPWA, whose executive director is David Ngele. I have been their patron for 10 years now and CA Sales basically funds their weekly HIV awareness events, as well as the annual HIV commemoration, which is a big national event. So we are not only starting now; we have been spending over P1 million a year helping the needy in our society.

Mmegi :Your company had to rebuild its warehouse in 2005 after the unfortunate fire incident. How did you cope with that tragedy?

Jagdish: The fire occurred in May 2005 and we had rebuilt the new and bigger facility at the same place in two years and we moved back in May 2007. We should add that none of our staff members had to be retrenched or have their wages reduced during those painful days.

Mmegi: Some people are saying that perhaps with this gesture of building 72 houses for the needy the directors of CA sales are using it to get closer to the President to get support for tenders?

Jagdish: First of all, our business does not require tenders from the government.

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In fact, we do not sell to the government at all. Our products are  day to day requirements of individuals'. They range from sweets, drinks, soaps, sugar, rice, tea and maize-meal that we supply to traders and wholesalers from Gaborone to Kasane. Our products are used by every person.

CA Group has always been involved in charities. This 72 houses commitment was the first opportunity we came across where the directors felt the tangible need for the homeless and the appeal coming from the highest office of the democracy. We have been applauded by most of the people and we have been able to motivate more to support this appeal.

Mmegi: You are estimated to be a P1.5 billion a year company in turn over. Looking at your size, critics are saying seven million a year is a drop in the ocean for you and that you could actually do more than you are doing now. Do you share this opinion?

Jagdish: Turnover does not mean profit. The bigger the turnover the business encounters, the bigger expense base and bigger challenges. We view this  commitment as a quantum leap and hope we will be able to do even better in future. We are happy that we have started such a tangible commitment.

Mmegi: You have 1,200 workers. Have you been able to maintain them during the recession?

Jagdish: We have not retrenched a single set of workforce for the reason of recession.

Mmegi: We understand your company recently acquired a plane. Can you tell us about it?.

Jagdish: We have a small Beach Beron 6 seater aircraft. We do not wholly own this ourselves. It was a second hand aircraft and it is helping us fly at our convenience.

Our clientel base is all over the country. It helps us to go meet the customers and take our principals for customer visit and trade visit. It  is not for personal aggrandisement but rather it is used by our co-owners, our managers and our principals.

Mmegi: You are also just about to walk into the new P150 million headquarters. You built this multi-million facility in the middle of the recession, how did you manage when companies would have preferred to postpone the project until after the recession?

Jagdish: Recession and boom is an economic cycle. Projects of this magnitude are not planned year on year but on long term basis. Also such projects are planned keeping in view the company's past growth and future growth potential. In recession you strive to get more business to survive and if you have infrastructure, your company can better survive than those who cannot invest during the recession cycle.

Mmegi:  Specifically how was your business affected by the recession, and can you give us a clear picture, are you out of the woods yet?

Jagdish: Compared to previous year, in this year of recession we have not seen growth. However, we are hopeful of growth in coming year as the world is recovering from recession.

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