Roundabout General Dealer is a small business located 80 kilometres away from Gaborone in Artesia on the A1 road on route to Francistown. It is owned by Ms. Masego Pena Maswabi who opened her doors on the 24th December 2015.

Where it all started?

Before I had even dreamt or thought of starting my own business I worked for several shops. I worked for Maxi-Save for one year and then Kgatleng Multi-Purpose Cooperatives in Mochudi. After leaving the Cooperatives I joined Adams Apple another shop owned by Mr. Adam Ardi. Working for Mr. Ardi as a Store Manager taught me a lot and gave me the motivation and the confidence to consider starting my own business. After understanding the various elements of successfully running a business I thought about starting a business in many locations but thought that the challenge would be the market and finding a regular supply of customers.

How did you come to know about CEDA?

When CEDA first opened in 2001, I had thought of approaching them but had reservations as I thought that they would take all my belongings if my business was unsuccessful. This made me fear approaching them and decided to go to them when I was ready with a location to start my business. I thought of starting in Mochudi but then thought that the village was growing too fast and would be swamped by the bigger stores. I then managed to secure a location in Artesia on the roadside where I am currently operating from.

When and how did you approach CEDA?

In 2015 I approached CEDA for financing to assist me in building my general dealer. All I needed was a shop to operate from and not stock. I submitted my application at the Gaborone Branch. After reviewing my first application, I was sadly declined. In their letter of decline, I was given the reasons as to why I could not be financed.

I was told of the appeals process and I took advantage of this and enquired as to why I was declined. Through the assistance of the Appeals Department and the Portfolio Executives I was guided as to where I had gone wrong and what areas I had to improve on. I went back to the drawing board and started fixing my application. I took time to tick all the boxes and understand their requirements. I was later called in for an interview to discuss the business. After resubmitting my application, I was told I had been successful and was awarded the funding later that year. In December 2015 I opened up my shop to the public.

What is the current status with CEDA?

At present I have a good relationship with the officers assigned to my business. CEDA has always offered me the much needed assistance and guidance in running my business. Fortunately, before I began this business I had the management skills I had gathered whilst managing Mr. Ardi’s business. CEDA Officers also visit my business regularly to check on my business.

What challenges does your business face?

I face the usual challenges any shop would face. There are days when I have a lot of customers and then days whereby no one or very few people come and buy groceries and meat.  Because I also sell meat I also struggle to find a reliable supplier of good meat and fresh produce.

What sets you apart from other businesses in the area?

My business is located right on the roadside on the A1 and this is advantageous because my shop can be a stop over and rest area for those that may be fatigued. I am also very passionate and kind to my customers. I always provide quality customer service and my customers in the village can attest to that. I am forever helping people in need.

How many employees did you start off with and how many do you have currently?

I started out with 2 employees when the shop opened. At present I have 6 employees. The only challenge I have is with the butchery where I need skilled people to use the cutting table when I slice up the meat. Other employees come and go and find greener pastures.

What are you passionate about?

I really want to see my business grow in the near future. I would like to open up a kitchen and offer my customers fresh food when they stop over. I feel that this would really attract more customers in the years to come.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

I would tell young entrepreneurs to always ensure that they do what feels right and good to them. They must not get into a business they will not attend to wholeheartedly. Business requires commitment, dedication, attentiveness and patience. If entrepreneurs get into a business simply for the money there is a likelihood that they will get frustrated in the first few years of the business. Patience and commitment are the foundation of any strong business owner.