The Fight for Sir Richard Branson

  • Entrepreneur accuses BITC of stealing Sir Richard proposal from him
  • It will be remiss to suggest we didn’t know Sir Richard before his proposal’- BITC
  • BITC confirms the proposal but finds nothing wrong with ditching the entrepreneur
  • BITC did not pay Sir Richard to come to Botswana

SONNY SERITE

Directors of a small local media company, News-bureau, have accused the management of Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) of sabotage and deceit after the parastatal that is in charge of the national brand went behind their back and brought British business tycoon, Sir Richard Branson into the country.
According to one of News-bureau directors Rebaone Odirile, he together with his partner Jafta Serero approached BITC sometime last year with a proposal for partnership to bring Sir Richard to Botswana to give motivational talks to aspiring entrepreneurs. Odirile said at the time, BITC turned down their proposal citing lack of funds as the only stumbling block on the proposed partnership.  He said they had proposed to approach other corporate entities to share the cost of bringing Sir Richard at an appearance fee of close to 1 million Pula.
Odirile said to their dismay and disbelief, they only found out through social media that BITC was hosting Sir Richard and was going to address the very same issues they had proposed.  BITC Director of Brand Botswana – International Portfolio Gaorekwe Gaorekwe confirmed in an interview on Monday that indeed some entrepreneurs had approached them with a proposal to bring Sir Richard to Botswana but argued that their proposals were not for them to bring him to Global Expo which is what BITC but was for their own initiatives. ‘‘In as much as BITC receives these proposals, BITC has been attempting for the past five years to bring him to Botswana which is in line with our mandate of attracting foreign Direct Investment to Botswana’’, Gaorekwe said. He said it will be remiss of anyone to suggest that before the proposals, BITC had no clue about who Sir Richard Branson is.
Gaorekwe confirmed that the last time they met with the businessmen who wanted to bring Sir Richard here was last year. He said they had indicated that BITC does not have the requisite budget to support the initiatives that were being proposed. On accusations that they went behind these businessmen and brought Sir Richard to Botswana, Gaorekwe said the fact that Sir Richard came at the invitation of BITC ‘‘does not stop other people or entities to bring him for their various purposes or initiatives’’.
Gaorekwe confirmed that he has received one complaint that was sent to BITC through WhatsApp and that BITC position was explained to the complainant. ‘‘We are scheduled to meet with the gentleman sometime this week so he can formally express his concern’’, he said. The BITC boss said bringing someone as well-known as Sir Richard can never be anyone’s unique idea. Gaorekwe also revealed that BITC did not pay Sir Richard to come to Botswana. ‘‘It is for the same reason that the event was free,’’ he said.
News-bureau directors say in their negotiations with Sir Richard’s agent, they had been informed that he was willing to donate his appearance fee to a charitable organisation in Botswana. Gaorekwe however said he was not aware if Sir Richard made any donations during his stay in Botswana.

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