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The roadside warriors

Portia Mlilo

Making a living along the a1 making ends meet

Approximately 15km south of Palapye, the A1 road dissects the sleepy settlement of Makoro.

On the outskirts of the village lies a Disease Control barrier beside which a number of entrepreneurs have set up makeshift stalls.

Depending on the season, they sell a variety of natural foods and snacks, including watermelons, peanuts, maize and mopane worms.

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With a steady stream of daily traffic moving up and down the country’s premier highway, the street sellers enjoy a frequent flow of customers.

Travelling back to Gaborone after a short visit to the second city recently, Voice Money’s Portia Mlilo took time out of her journey home to talk to these roadside warriors and find out how their businesses are going.

Keitumetse Maphanephane, 40, from Palapye

In 2008 my daughter was very ill and it was affecting my performance at work [Car Dealership Assistant] so I decided to quit.

It was very difficult to provide for my family so I started this business of selling field produce.

At first I bought a sack of peanuts and cowpeas in Francistown.

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In 2012, I managed to make profit and hire people to de-bush my field so that I can plough and sell watermelon, maize, beans, peanuts and cowpeas.

This business has helped me a lot.

The roadside warriors
Keitumetse Maphanephane

I pay for my children’s school fees and the elder one is doing her second year at tertiary.

Their father passed on in 2018 so I am now the breadwinner.

I also managed to build myself a house, which is connected with water and electricity.

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On a busy day I can make more than P1, 000.

The major problem we have is that we do not have a shelter so my business is affected during the rainy season.

Lesego Ndubo, 36, from Serowe

I used to sell clothes in Gaborone.

In 2018 on my way to Serowe I stopped by Makoro to buy peanuts and I realised there was no one selling food to these business people.

I started selling them lunch and breakfast.

I also buy peanuts in bulk in Mahikeng, South Africa and supply them.

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Lesego Ndubo

I make more profit on Saturday because that is when a lot of people travel and buy food from my stall.

Unlike my previous business, with this one I am sure of saving everyday and not having to wait for month end for people to pay.

I have even opened a savings account.

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I use the profit I make to provide for my parents.

Just last week I went to apply for their electricity connection and paid P1, 000.

Gaboratanelwe Blacky Thapelo, 32, from Palapye

After failing my Form 3 I decided to start farming.

I plough, producing watermelon, peanuts, maize and sell to people passing here.

During winter I buy produce from South Africa and sell mophane worms.

This business has really helped me because I managed to buy myself a car which I use to transport my produce from the fields.

The roadside warriors
Gaboratanelwe Thapelo

I have also built myself a modern house complete with running water and power.

I even take care of my three nieces, buying them uniform and paying for their school fees.

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On a busy day, especially towards month end, I make more than a thousand Pula.

I am currently saving to buy a van so that I can produce more and supply to other people in this business.

Ledirafetse Lokial, 72, from Palapye

I started this business in 2001 selling watermelons and peanuts.

Now the business has grown, I sell sweet reed, cowpeas, maize and mophane worms.

With the profit I make, I managed to build a house, connect water and electricity.

I have raised my seven children with the takings I make from this business and now they are working.

The roadside warriors
Ledirafetse Lokial

The major challenge we have is that there is no permanent structure to use to store our stock.

We use vacant veterinary officers’ houses but sometimes thieves break in and steal our products, which is a serious draw back.

Some company came here last year and promised to build a shelter for us but we are still waiting.

We only receive help from mobile network providers, who supply us with their big umbrellas.

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