At a time where diversifying the economy has never been more imminent, more Batswana are looking for ingenious ways to boost local enterprise to become key players in the growth of the market. One such an establishment is Elite Club Processing, a local company that manufactures household detergents.
“We looked at what we could possibly achieve as a collective. So manufacturing offered a unique opportunity because it is an industry that is still at its infancy stage in Botswana. We are currently housed by and enjoying excellent mentorship from the Local Enterprise Authority in Pilane Industrial,” explains Tshenolo Thakadu, the chemical engineer and director of the company.
Speaking on what contributed to their interest in the manufacturing business, he outlined high unemployment numbers in Botswana. “There is an outcry of youth unemployment in Botswana, so the manufacturing industry provides sustainable jobs for unemployed youth. Elite Club would like to play its part in providing employment.”
He continued: “Again, the average annual import bill of detergents, soaps and related products stand at a whooping P400 million which essentially means that we give our money to other countries when we have the expertise to develop the detergent industry ourselves. We would like to reduce the country’s import bill and help promote economic growth. Our team possesses excellent skills from human resource management, marketing, accounting to chemical engineering so naturally, creating a processing industry was the natural thing to do.”
Their product range includes dishwashing liquid, pine gel, degreaser, bleach, tile cleaner, hand soap and multipurpose cleaner amongst other offerings. He explains that the demand is visible. “There is great demand for detergents as current local production does not meet the demand and the majority of detergents are imported, especially household detergents,” he said.
As far as challenges are concerned, a competitive market and lack of funds are the biggest hurdles. He states: “It has been particularly hard for Elite Club to penetrate the industrial side of the market as it is the case with any startup business. The struggles are worsened by lack of sufficient working capital. However, the response from the household market for our 750ml Elite Dishwashing Liquid has been remarkable. It is in great demand and the feedback in terms of its cleaning performance has been overwhelming”.
He adds that notable highlights on their entrepreneurial journey so far includes the introduction of Elite dishwashing liquid and a television interview by Letlhabile programme, which helped them penetrate the market.
Facing fierce competition from already established players in the industrial segment, Thakadu encourages Batswana to prioritize local productions. “Imported brands are able to sell at lower prices because they can afford it. They are able to stock raw materials in bulk consequently spending less in their purchase and transportation. We believe if the government was to introduce importation qoutas as they do in the agricultural sector, it would really boost local production. Also, every household needs the products we produce, so if they would buy from local manufacturers, it would boost our businesses.”
He aspires for Elite Club Processing to penetrate the retail market. “We are currently in negotiations with retails stores to sell our Elite dishwashing liquid across the country and it will happen very soon. We will make announcements when it is done. In future, very distant future, we would like to manufacture the raw materials we use to make our products instead of importing them.”
For more on their products, their Facebook page is Elite Club Processing.