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Talking business growth

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Talking business growth
GRANT THORNTON CEO: Vijay Kalyarama

With the impending Private Business Growth Awards brought to you by Grant Thornton in conjunction with Business Botswana, Voice Money this week spoke to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Grant Thornton, Vijay Kalyanaraman, to probe his mind on businesses in Botswana as well as the awards.

Q: How would you rate Botswana’s book-keeping Prowess?
Botswana has a long way to go. Most businesses in Botswana resort to IFARIS which is usually a standard reserved for small to medium businesses and sometimes the business is not suitable for it. I do however, rank Botswana highly in the region.

Q: What does the criteria “People and Culture” mean in the upcoming Business Growth Awards?
People are the backbone of any company success.

People and culture is about supporting citizen training.

It’s also a matter of giving the people the confidence to say you’re not going to be sitting as an employee, you’re going to be the owner of the business.

We value how businesses inspire to bring the quality of the people up. It is the most important thing.

There are other criterion such as finance but we are not giving awards for the business that made the most money only.

We are also prioritizing the staff initiatives.

We just want to highlight unique things that businesses do.

You always need the right people for a successful business.

Q: Many people claim that the Private Business Growth Awards are a ploy to increase registration for Business Botswana.

How do you respond to this?
Business Botswana is a private sector arm.

Every organization has its own benefits and pitfalls.

If a few non-members feel that becoming a member of Business Botswana is not beneficial, we are more than happy to receive this input and pass it on to Business Botswana for their assessment.

Business Botswana, in our view, is the voice of the private sector and Botswana does not have an opportunity such as these awards to be put on a pedestal to celebrate their achievements.

Q: The prize available is listed as a prestigious award.

What exactly does this entail?
This year we have deviated from only having one award to having two categories.

One for large businesses which are judged as businesses that have a turnover exceeding 100 million Pula.

The other category is for small and medium enterprises.

Each category will get a trophy, along with 1 year’s membership to Business Botswana and P25 000 non-audit services from Grant Thornton.

Just getting into the awards is a great prize which people will be looking at.

Q: Who was the previous winner?
This is the 2nd year of the awards.

Last year Sprint Couriers won it.

Q: And how has Sprint Couriers benefitted from winning the award?
They have got increased recognition especially through the media whom I’d like to thank for their support.

Their coverage has been overwhelming.

The competition has also increased the confidence of many businesses, not just the winner, to develop new initiatives and improve their products for competition.

The winner also got billboards around the city which displayed their triumph and showcased their business.

All the top finalists also received a short video – about 2 minutes in length that is presented at the Gala for all to see.

Q: Who are the judges who determine who gets the award?
There are two changes from last year.

The President of Business Botswana will be with us this year and will also be joined by the new CEO of the Botswana Stock Exchange, Thapelo Tsheole.

The rest of the panelists remain the same.

The CEO of BOA will be there, so will the CEO of FNB and the director of Botho University who always provides us with insight from an educational perspective.

Q: On a more personal note, where do you see Grant Thornton in the next 10 years?
I see Grant Thornton still being excellent.

The quality of citizen accountants is improving.

It is important to keep the professional accounting here as a regional hub.

If we don’t accountants will move on to greener pastures.

Q: Recently we have seen the youth uprising in protest of high levels of unemployment amongst the youth.

Does the problem also persist in the accountancy sector?
On the topic of unemployment we need to realize that the public sector is the engine of growth.

We can’t always depend on the government.

Accountants in this country however, have nothing to worry about as there is currently a shortage [accountants] in this country.

Every successful business needs an accountant so the more businesses that are created, the easier it will be for accountants.

Q: What challenges did you face as the 1st President of BICA?
We as a country for the last 21 years have had a shortage of professional accountants.

Even today, that is still the case.

When a qualification of this nature is brought into the country, it involves a change in mindset which I had to facilitate.

We had to bring in the concept of articles where accredited firms like us and others can receive these qualifications.

It comes with a lot of pressure.

Q: Finally, what community engagement does Grant Thornton and yourself partake in?
On the 27th of August we are having our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)event.

For the last 2 years we have not selected the projects.

It is up to our members to select what initiative we come together for.

Last year we went to an eye care center.

We do this every year.
I’m also, in my personal capacity, involved in a free medical clinic next to GICC.

The Vice President was there three weeks ago to come and initiate a free eye checkup for junior school kids.