Local manufacturers call for specialised fund

On site: Masisi toured exhibitors at the Local Manufacturers' Summit on Tuesday PIC: BWPRESIDENCY FACEBOOK
On site: Masisi toured exhibitors at the Local Manufacturers' Summit on Tuesday PIC: BWPRESIDENCY FACEBOOK

Entrepreneurs in the manufacturing space have asked government to consider seeding an investment fund custom made to support enterprises in order to boost the sector’s contribution to the economy.

The plea was raised on Tuesday, at the opening of the Local Manufacturer’s Summit held in Gaborone.

Speaking at the event, Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) CEO, Mmantlha Sankoloba, said that despite the manufacturing sector being the fifth largest employer in the country, there is still an appalling lack of finance products that cater for the industry specific needs of manufacturers in the country.

BEMA is a business membership organisation incorporating exporters, manufacturers, service providers, and individuals in trade and export related areas. The organisation has over 2,000 members.

“We propose that government facilitates improving access to finance, especially to SMMEs in the manufacturing space,” she said.

The call for a manufacturers’ fund follows concerns over access to funding by enterprises in the manufacturing space with worries mounting over the lending rates offered by commercial banks.

According to Sankoloba, the time is ripe for the creation of a fund that understands the needs and operations of manufacturers, one which is willing to provide funding based on speciality needs.

“Manufacturers continue to face challenges in accessing loans and are challenged by the rates offered by commercial banks,” she said. “We propose the creation of an agency that provides funding based on manufacturers' needs,” she said.

Delivering the keynote address, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said that government efforts such as reserving 30% of its procurement in SPEDU for manufacturers in that area, represent the desire by government to empower manufacturing entrepreneurs.

“As government we have further negotiated longer loan repayment holidays for manufacturers and advocated for eased loan requirements to support local manufacturers” he said.

He, however, added that government alone could not fully drive the growth of the manufacturing sector.

“It is the private sector that can help us get there through strategic investments in the different sectors of the economy, with particular emphasis on manufacturing which has the great potential to stimulate economic growth,” he said.

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