Entrepreneurship policy on the cards

A National Entrepreneurship Policy (NEP) is being formulated to replace the Small, Medium and Micro Size Entreprises (SMME) Policy of 1998.

The NEP is designed to provide a comprehensive framework for entrepreneurship and SMME development in the country.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the policy needed to be reviewed to instill entrepreneurship development.

Ministry of Trade and Industry, trade policy advisor, Joel Sentso, said the draft policy is a result of a review of the SMME policy conducted in 2013 by the Ministry with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

“It will be aligned to other Economic Policies and strategies and will form part of the government’s broader economic strategy meant to achieve national goals of industrial development, economic diversification as well as employment creation,” he said.

Sentsho further said the NEP would focus on the creation of more new business start-ups, including those within the informal sector as well as foster survival and growth of SMMEs by strengthening their performance and productivity.

“This will be achieved through addressing issues pertaining to the environment in which entrepreneurs and SMMEs operate: education and skills development; networking and awareness; technology transfer and innovation; access to financing and seed capital as well as linking entrepreneurship to industrial development. The Policy will involve all relevant Stakeholders for maximum buy-in and effective implementation,” he added.

The Policy is expected to be ready for submission to Parliament for debate and approval in either the July or November 2015 Parliamentary sitting.

The effectiveness of SMME policy of 1998 has been questioned, with certain quarters pointing out that it has failed to achieve its objectives of promoting citizen entrepreneurship.

According to a Botswana Institute of Development and Policy Analysis (BIDPA) report, the policy has not encouraged the development of large numbers of successful businesses with growth potential but instead it has tended to promote small, fragmented and undercapitalised businesses. “Even for consumers it has reduced competition and lead to higher prices and less choice. It has also harmed those Batswana who have managed to build up successful businesses by making it very difficult for them to sell those businesses upon retirement or if they wish to pursue other ventures,” reads the report.

The report also indicated that there were approximately 56,300 SMMEs businesses operating in Botswana, employing 125,000 people including business owners. It also estimated that the SMME sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was in the range of 30-45 percent while that of large firms stood at 38-48 percent of GDP. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is also formulating the National Quality Policy, a framework that provides a coordinated approach in addressing quality related initiatives and activities, with a view to improving the quality of products and services, export enhancement, consumer and environmental protection and achieve accelerated economic growth.

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