Leading chain supermarket Choppies Enterprises Limited has continued to push the ‘Buy Botswana’ agenda in order to reduce import bills and utilise local suppliers post the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu, Choppies is motivated by the fact that most of the retailers have little interest in working with Botswana suppliers.
Ram, as he is passionately known, believes the time is now to uplift and build Botswana owned industries, suppliers and service providers.
“The COVID- 19 has caught us unaware. It has left a number of businesses bruised. As one of the leading supermarkets in the country we have decided to work closely with local suppliers in a bid to empower them, keep their business and the economy afloat during this difficult period,” said Ram.
Due to the pandemic, he acknowledged that a number of suppliers especially the non-tendering ones have been on the receiving end since trade was badly affected.
Some have even closed shop.
“When we transformed from Wayside Supermarket to Choppies our goal and vision was to work with local suppliers because we could see an open gap that needed to be filled immediately. We started off small working with a few suppliers but with the current situation we have to work with as many as we can to save jobs and keep local trade rolling,” stated Ram.
At Choppies, they want to create a solid local trading system which will even see local suppliers exporting their products and services in the foreseeable future. Choppies has over 200 retail outlets and is working closely with 1226 Batswana suppliers, according to Ram.
Was it not of the recently ended boardroom wars which engulfed Choppies, and cost it some money, Ram said more could have been done in empowering locals.
A local supplier Opelo Letshwiti of Lesweedy Diaries said Choppies has provided a golden opportunity for local suppliers, who have been struggling to penetrate the market. “As entrepreneurs, we must embrace this opportunity,” he said.
The Choppies supply base comprises of security companies, electrical contractors, farmers, manufactures, civil contractors, refrigeration contractors and IT vendors and equipment suppliers to mention but a few.
Ram’s business ownership stretches to other countries where he established Choppies.
Regionally, Choppies has a total number of 4653 suppliers in their respective countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.