Choppies Chief Executive Officer, Ramachandran Ottapathu has challenged start-up enterprises and small to medium scale businesses to consider listing on the domestic bourse to raise equity. “Overcome the fear of public scrutiny,” said Ottapathu, addressing participants of the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), Tshipidi Mentorship Programme, project intended at mentoring the country’s family business and small to enterprise to consider listing. Launched in 2019, Tshipidi Mentorship provide practical training offered by industry experts with regards to key elements of corporatization, capital structure, financial reporting, commercial law, listing requirements and corporate governance.

Ottapathu highlighted that most companies shy away from being public companies through listing. He however highlighted that with digitization, every entity has nothing to hide. “There is nothing you can hide. We need to be confident about our brands,” said Ottapathu, challenging small and medium business to build companies that have consistency and sustainability traits. “There is so much of opportunities, though our market is small. As you (enterprise) grow, look beyond borders and set eyes into Zimbabwe, South Africa and other markets,” said Ottapathu. He said failure should not deter those in business, as profit and losses are always part of any business entity. “If you are in business, you are bound to make mistakes.

How long one can sustain losses is one thing to think about,” said Ottapathu highlighting that business people have to stand on their dream despite challenges. Despite having built a legacy through the Choppies brand, which now has expanded into Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia over the years from a single store in Lobatse, established in 1986, Ottapathu says he is still eager to do more. “One dream left on my bucket list is to create a financial institution,” said Ottapathu, after being challenged by one of the directors of Payless, Elliot Moshoke to consider opening a private equity firm to support and mentor growth of startups.

Adding to Ottapathu’s sentiments, BSE Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole said listing is the best thing businesses can ever do. “When you want to grow your company, come to the market,” said Tsheole, adding that there is capital available on the market. “There are a lot of opportunities that are presented by the market,” he added. Tsheole said companies cannot ignore the stock market as it offers a lot of opportunities. Some of the companies that have been part of the Tshipidi Mentorship and have considered some of the training from the Tshipidi Mentorship include, Staywell Hotels, Vehicle and Asset Tracking who are 2021 graduates of the project. “We are in the process of appointing a board of directors, as we put forward plans to expand our footprint going to the north of the country and outside Botswana," said Operations Director at Staywell Hotels, Lesedi Nthobatsang, urging enterprises to consider BSE mentorship.