The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) this week launched the Botswana National Informal Sector Recovery Plan aimed at pulling the struggling sector out of the COVID-19 stress it is suffering from.
The Plan seeks to provide mechanisms for informal sector businesses to respond to the effects of COVID-19 as well as develop sustainable measures to overcome similar shocks by addressing the challenges.
Speaking at the launch on Tuesday, Minister Peggy Serame said the Plan rests on two strategic goals which are establishment of Informal Sector Facilitation Structures and Economic Revitalisation of the Informal Sector.
“The Plan calls for the establishment of an Informal Sector Agency and COVID-19 Relief to the Informal Sector. One of the recommendations of the plan was an immediate dispensation of a P1,000 grant per business to informal sector participants where 12,978 beneficiaries have been assisted as at March 12, 2021,“ she said.
The second phase is the development of infrastructure that will ensure decent work hubs/markets and market-access centres for informal sector business clusters and services.
“Projects will be prioritised according to their ability to benefit a broad spectrum of informal sector enterprises, and the number of jobs they can support,” she said.
Serame said to this end, MITI in conjunction with other stakeholders will undertake work in agriculture, service related and light manufacturing projects.
These would include
“There is also need to establish platforms for informal sector entrepreneurship training and cultural change. Therefore, the Ministry will partner with other stakeholders to offer relevant entrepreneurship training programmes that facilitate innovation, cluster development, incubation, supply chain management, organisational management, marketing, financial management, and upscaling for the informal sector,“ she said. An Informal Sector Study conducted in 2015 showed that the estimated number of informal sector businesses was 116,571, employing around 191,176 individuals. The estimated annual economic output of this sector was about P7.8 billion which equates to a contribution of 5.3 percent towards the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The survey revealed that the informal sector businesses had increased by over 233% since the 2007 survey.
Challenges faced by the informal sector locally include poor working environment, low participation in the making of policies that affect them, inadequate access to credit facilities on reasonable terms as well as inadequate access to operating space and facilities.