President Mokgweetsi Masisi has encouraged businesses to look to the consortium model in order to empower local citizens in business without fronting or tokenising them.
Masisi said this when officially opening the ‘Fields Mall’ situated in Gaborone, CBD which is 100% owned by citizen companies. The mall sits on a 27 000 square metre piece of land and owned by Smart Partnership Enterprises, a company owned by Batswana.
“The development of the Fields Mall dates back to the 1980s. Local business people grouped themselves together to form a consortium called Smart Partnership Enterprises, with the aim of ensuring that a major commercial retail development in the Central Business District (CBD) is owned by Batswana,” Masisi revealed.
According to him, the consortium was expanded to include other Batswana from all walks of life, coming together to achieve what seemed impossible. The group he said is a true reflection of Batswana in that it has the deep pocketed and the not-so-deep pocketed. “It has Batswana of different races and political persuasions. This quintessential Botswana / Batswana company stands head and shoulder above any other who may have claimed to be more deserving to occupy the biggest plot in our Central Business District in our Capital City.”
Masisi noted that‘Fields Mall’ is an example that Batswana can work together for a common goal therefore encouraging all businesses to look to this model to empower our citizens in business without fronting or tokenising them.
Masisi commended that the growth trajectory of this business consortium demonstrates the power of vision, cooperation, strategic thinking and partnership, mutual trust, collective determination and perseverance to achieve shared success in wealth creation, while solving the problems and consumer needs of fellow human beings.
“In this edifice of the built environment called “The Fields”, we recognise that “where there is a will there is always a way”. Equally important as a life lesson is that, we are witnessing the material expression of the cooperative principle of “Letsema”, in Setswana language, culture, and tradition, whose meaning, in a commercial sense, encompasses the elements of what are called “share capital’ and “venture capital”, which are mechanisms for financing projects of mega scales as shared investments.”
Masisi noted that this kind of “Letsema” is not simply the aggregation of labour to carry out a task on a touch and go mode, but it involves a lot of planning and strategising so that the benefits that accrue are durable and sustainable. He added that the model goes to demonstrate that locals can be equally financially savvy with the use of epithets borrowed from indigenous languages as the country gear up for the 5th priority in the Reset Agenda.
The Fields Mall will provide Batswana in and around Gaborone as well as those in the CBD, a convenient, world class retail centre to cater for their needs. During the construction of the facility which is estimated to have cost P450 million, a total of 700 people were employed. Upon completion, the mall will employ up to 8 000 Batswana. “I am also informed that there are various other phases of the Fields Mall and the precinct that are to be developed in the future. Therefore, we look forward to more developments which will provide more employment and economic opportunities for Batswana,” the president said.