There has been increased media interest in the Tokafala enterprise development programme recently, with some confusion about its operations and purpose.
We are writing to provide an update on the programme, which has already seen encouraging results in its first year.
Tokafala is a collaborative effort by the Government of the Republic of Botswana, De Beers, Debswana and Anglo American, to promote economic development, diversification and job creation in Botswana by supporting the growth of micro, small and medium-sized companies. It was launched in true partnership in November 2013 and since then has consistently delivered to the targets and timelines set by the founding partners.
Tokafala brings international best practice into Botswana to provide a number of critical services to entrepreneurs trying to start or grow a business, while at the same time drawing on a wide variety of local organisations and the vibrancy of the Botswana people to make it effective in driving economic diversification and job creation.
The entrepreneurs are selected through a careful and robust screening process to identify the individuals best placed to benefit from the programme and to create or support the greatest number of jobs.
The business development experts at Tokafala provide advisory and mentoring services to these entrepreneurs, helping them refine their plans to grow and develop their business. Where appropriate, entrepreneurs are supported to apply for existing public and private financing opportunities, linked to business opportunities within the supply chains of the programme partners, or linked to existing enterprise development Government programmes. The programm currently does not fund these enterprises, but in future will provide direct loans to support business development for selected participants.
The approach we take at Tokafala builds on the almost 50 years of experience that TechnoServe – the international NGO selected as the delivery partner – brings to Botswana. TechnoServe’s mission is to assist enterprising people to build competitive businesses and industries in the developing world. It has experience in running similar, highly impactful programmes in over 30 countries around the world, including work with Anglo American in Chile, Peru, Brazil and South Africa.
At the end of the first year of the 3-year programme, Tokafala has provided mentorship and advisory services to 63 small to medium sized enterprises from its inaugural hub in Gaborone. In turn, these enterprises support over 600 jobs.
To date, funding for the programme has been provided by the corporate founders while the contractual arrangements for Government’s financial participation are finalised.
We look forward to achieving much more over the remaining two years of the programme. We believe Tokafala represents a real example of what a public-private partnership can achieve by building on the success of government led programmes, while drawing on private sector experience. We are excited with the results of our first year and we look forward to expanding the programme’s reach to rural areas allowing us to support a significant number of jobs by the end of 2016.
We are working hard to raise awareness of Tokafala so that more entrepreneurs may benefit from the programme. We would therefore welcome the opportunity to show you or one of your colleagues more details of our work in person, and would be happy to support any stories you might consider running. Please do contact me if you would like to know more about our programme.
Ineke van der Weijden
Programme Director Tokafala