BDC: The Economic Diversification Champion
Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) has an instrumental role to play in Botswana’s Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).
An initiative launched in 2010, the EDD’s implementation runs up to 2016. However the country’s efforts to diversify from a largely diamond driven economy have been ongoing for some decades now. Over this period, BDC has contributed significantly to the diversification of the economy, while actively creating wealth and value in several ways.
The Corporation’s primary objectives are to develop infrastructure and create employment by providing capital to fund investment and economic growth in Botswana.Driven by the vision of being a leading development and investment financier, its activities have immensely benefited several sectors of the economy, namely; industry, agriculture, services and property. Distinct divisions have been created within BDC to champion development and facilitate support for these sectors.
The Corporations’ industry division is mandated with the development of manufacturing which is a key factor in the diversification of the economy.
Because competition for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the region remains high, the Industry Division embraces the challenge to attract quality investors to the country, and as a result, has had to come up with creative ways of growing its portfolio by retaining its existing clients, and attracting new ones.
BDC owns or has significant stakes in several companies engaged in manufacturing. They include KwenaRocla, LobatseClayworks and Matsijole Cement (all manufacturers of construction materials), Sechaba Holdings, Prima Foods, producers of maize meal, flour and pasta; Kwena concrete Products and others.
Another division is the Agribusiness whose mandate is to help grow the country’s agricultural sector for food security and, extension, national security.
A full range of products offered by BDC, including long term loans and equity are available to investors looking to invest in agricultural projects and exploit the opportunities available in the areas of dairy farming, poultry, irrigation, crop production, stock feed and livestock production.
Among others, BDC has collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture through Botswana Horticultural Council (BHC) to create the Botswana Horticulture market (BHM) whose main objective is to provide a platform or place for local horticultural farmers to sell their produce. The company operates in Gaborone and the market is operated on a combined commission and wholesale system.
As a development financier, BDC has been active in the sustained growth of the Property market, through its 100% owned properties, and partnerships. The Property Division is charged with developing and managing residential, commercial, hotel and industrial properties for BDC.
In 2011, BDC transferred some of its property investments into a new Company called Letlole La Rona Limited (LLRL). The company was subsequently listed on the local bourse in pursuant to the Corporation’s desire to transfer some of its investments into the hands of citizens who would not normally afford to acquire large properties owing to the large capital outlay required for such investments.
Through the property division, BDC continues to promote economic diversification by facilitating activities in tourism; industry, agriculture as well as infrastructure and as property development.
The Corporation has considerable presence in the services sector where it has invested in tourism infrastructure, financial services and others. BDC continues to be a major player in the tourism industry which a significant foreign income earnings.
The services sector is seen by many as an ideal diversification route given the country’s strategic landlocked positioning, which is ideal for a services hub, and its natural climate which makes it unfavorable for normal agricultural activities.
Among its services portfolio, BDC owns Botswana Export Credit Insurance Company (BECI), which was set up by specifically to support Government’s objective of diversifying the Botswana economy. It has stakes in Investec (an asset management company), Healthcare Holding, an investment company focusing on property development; CrestaMarakanelo, Fairgrounds Holdings and others.
Marketing and Research Division
To inform activities and propel the growth of portfolio, BDC has a Marketing and Research Division which undertakes research on various sectors of the economy and analyse industry trends with the view of identifying market niches and finding new business opportunities for growing the Corporation’s portfolio.
The Division communicates the Corporation’s value proposition to local and foreign investors with the intention of growing the portfolio through expansions of existing enterprises and new businesses. Particular emphasis is placed on citizen economic empowerment through partnerships.
It also strives to deliver services which meet customer expectations and is the first point of contact for all potential clients
Through the above mechanisms and organs, BDC continues to reassert itself as a critical player in the in the economic diversification of Botswana and has, as a development and investment financier, specifically been mandated to lead Outward Investment in the EDD mid to long term implementation strategy.