- Says COVID-19 is compelling support for local businesses and products
- Is full of praise for NDB’s awareness of this opportunity
In a quest to improve Botswana’s food self-sufficiency, Albert Mbayi started a company in a field dominated by foreigners. Mbayi says his Phitshane-based milling company, Prinkle Stars, specialises in the milling of samp, porridge sorghum and baby foods.
He says his 20-strong staff is responsible for the daily running of the plant and ensures that customers’ demands are fully met.
The company started operations in June 2021 after receiving a P7 million cash injection from the National Development Bank (NDB) in May 2021. Mbayi says the process at NDB was free of bottlenecks because his application was concluded seamlessly. He is full of praise for NDB staff assigned to assist him, saying they were “very helpful” in facilitating completion of the plant.
Mbayi says although his company is fairly new, it is performing “very well” and is currently in talks for supplying stores and the government with its products. Even so, access to farmers is a bit of a hitch because they prefer Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) which subsequently sells to millers at higher prices. Mbayi says this affects their production costs and capacity to produce on a larger scale.
Another problem with local farmers is their limited range crops. “Clients are very specific about what they want,” says Mbayi. “It is sometimes hard to meet their needs with local food crops and have to turn to South-Africa.”
He says he intends to approach the farmers’ union about varying crops to cater for the market. He sees diversifying food crops as a lucrative opportunity because the advent of COVID-19 is compelling support for local businesses and products that both the government and NDB have noticed.