New govt-backed association to boost SMMEs

HELPING HAND: Gare's Ministry is prioritising improving SMMEs survival rates and success
HELPING HAND: Gare's Ministry is prioritising improving SMMEs survival rates and success

The Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has launched an association for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs), as part of government’s efforts to empower the sector.

The association is expected to improve skills training, the sourcing of capital and technical assistance for SMMEs. It was launched last week at an event attended by industry specialists and captains of both the private and public sectors. Officiating at the launch, Entrepreneurship minister, Karabo Gare said government has realised the crucial importance played by SMMEs in growing the economy and offering an avenue for employment creation. He added creating supportive mechanisms that enhance the role of SMMEs in the mainstream economy is important in enhancing private sector partnership in Botswana. “A study by BIDPA has indicated that SMMEs contribute up to 75% of private sector employment in Botswana and 20% of national output, however, an enduring concern is that we have failed to diversify our economy from depending on mining and mineral processing,” the minister said.

The deputy director in the Department of Co-operatives in the Ministry of Entrepreneurship, Boitumelo Makunya, said in the past government efforts have helped small businesses thrive and grow. She cited the import ban on certain agricultural produce as an opportunity to empower local entrepreneurs across the value chain. She said this particular initiative is bearing fruit as local farmers are now able to meet 70% of the national demand for tomatoes. “During March, we experienced a 50% decline in our imports of fruits and vegetables because of the ban, credit being to government efforts for empowering local producers,” Makunya said.

However, other analysts and critics have cautioned against judging the success of the import ban by looking at import values alone, as this may not always indicate greater local capacity. In some instances, Batswana have either given up on certain vegetables due to local shortages or opted for the canned variety whose imports are allowed and have surged since the ban was imposed. Makunya further said it was disconcerting to note that other stakeholders were not coming to the party to empower local entrepreneurs. She said commercial banks need to create new instruments to empower local smallholder farmers, amongst other SMMEs.

“Despite assistance given by government through various schemes, the lack of access to finance remains one of the main key constraints of SME development in Botswana,” she said Makunya further said improving credit access for SMMEs in Botswana can only happen with the support of commercial banks, as is happening in other developing countries.

Editor's Comment
Bravo, Matlala JSS for recognising employees!

Last Friday, Matlala Junior Secondary School (JSS) in Tlokweng did just that – they organised an event to honour their teachers and support staff. This gesture is truly commendable, as teachers occupy a pivotal role in the lives of our children.To be completely candid, teachers are the ones who shape our children from a very tender age, investing a significant amount of time in their growth and development. It's not uncommon to hear parents...

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