Saturday 24 October 2015

Do things change?

Yes, of course things change. But sometimes VERY slowly.

Even though it sometimes challenges my patience I do understand that all the best change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. The best change is that which has happened gradually, little step by little step. Sudden, radical change usually ends up failing. History has shown us that revolutionary political change usually results in starvation, dictatorship and war. Revolutionary change in business ends up with the “New Coke” fiasco (youngsters can Google that one).

For me the most frustrating thing is how long it can take for a community to learn lessons from each other and from the nation’s experience.

Two people have asked in the last week whether two different investment opportunities could be trusted. The first was an advertisement on Facebook which said:

“My Dear Botswana Friends. Are you aware that Botswana is officially open to trade with Gold Bullion? Accept for RSA it’s not allowed in most of Southern Africa. This is a huge window of opportunity for a Batswana to take advantage of and to make money with gold. Click on this link and join my International GoldRule Club for free and we will teach you how!”
If you click on the link you visit a site called “Lightminded: Rich Mind Rich Man”.

The opening paragraph on this site says:
"I want to share with you something that is already changing the financial world, as we know it, forever. When I discovered it for the first time, I was blown away - and I do not get blown away easily. A few moths [sic] ago I teamed up with top international cashflow creation experts to develop a program, which enables us to create unlimited cashflow, and we are now ready to share it with you."
You know already, don't you, that there’s something fishy going on when you see a phrase like "enables us to create unlimited cashflow"? And you know that whenever someone who has discovered an amazing money-making scheme wants "to share it with you" you have to ask yourself why?

Another clue is when he says:
"Please don't send me a message asking me what this is about. Just follow the steps if you want to know what it is about!"
Here's a free tip. Any money-making schemes that is secretive has something to hide.

Once you’ve read all this silliness you’re invited to click on yet another link where you can join this guy’s “Gold Club”. And guess where that link takes you?


You might remember Karatbars being aggressively marketed in Botswana a couple of years ago with similar stories of the riches you could make. The scheme is based on buying very small quantities of gold and of course recruiting people beneath you to both buy the mini-gold and recruiting further levels beneath them as well. In fact the price you paid to buy this gold is much higher than the real gold price and besides, the price of gold has been steadily dropping since 2012 so it’s hardly a great investment. What was more interesting was how they marketed their business in Botswana. One of their local representatives claimed that the German Embassy, the Department of Mines and BURS had all endorsed their scheme. This wasn’t true and I know this because I asked them and they all denied it. Then came an even bigger lie. They said that the “doubting thomases then went to consumer watch dog. They also gave us a thumbs up.”

That was an even bigger lie. Not only had we never given them “a thumbs up”, in fact we’d been saying (and continue to say) that they’re a pyramid scheme and that people should never, under any circumstances, join their ridiculous scheme.

Unfortunately my suspicion that they’d gone away was wrong. Karatbars and their ridiculous scheme is still around and the danger is that many people will continue to fall for their scheme, losing not only time and effort but also money.

The good news is that many more individuals are skeptical of such schemes but we have a long way to go before we develop a community “herd immunity” that will protect the nation as a whole.

Despite what Mmegi readers might think people are even still falling for the multitude of scams present on the internet. We are still often asked whether it’s possible that a corrupt South African government minster really does want to offer a randomly selected stranger $30.5 million or if it’s possible that you’ve “won $350,000 in SADC promotion” or even if you’ve won millions in the Euro Milliones Spanish Lottery Prize Award that you never entered. Bizarrely we still get these questions from people who have already been asked to pay over the “advance fee” that all scammers are after.

But some things DO change. Perhaps.

In 2013 the Competition Authority approved the acquisition of all the Woolworths stores in Botswana by the Woolworths Group in South Africa. Woolworths in SA said they wanted to streamline their operations and offer their customers in Botswana improved services, better product quality, greater localization of supply and price reductions.

So the question is simple.

Did these things actually happen? Have you noticed a difference? Are their prices better than they were in the past? Do they offer a better range of better products? Above all, the big question that everyone is asking is how do their prices compare to those charged for identical products in their stores in South Africa?

Visit our Facebook group and you’ll see a link to a very simple online questionnaire that asks you these questions. Please spare 2 minutes of your time and let’s see whether Woolworths has in fact changed. If so we can congratulate them. If not…

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