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PUBLIC, PRIVATE SECTORS PARTNER FOR NEW ENTREPRENEURSHIP POLICY

Keikantse Lesemela

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SMEs will benefit from the renewed NEP policy

A series of meetings on the National Entrepreneurship Policy (NEP) will help public and private sector address technology challenges and dismantle barriers to innovative entrepreneurship.

Before development of the NEP, SMMEs development and entrepreneurship policy in Botswana was based on the SMME Policy of 1999, then in 2013 the Ministry of Trade and Industry commissioned a study to review the policy and come up with a holistic NEP for Botswana, geared towards the promotion of entrepreneurship and SMMEs development in Botswana.

In Partnership with the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, the World Bank convened industry leaders from the private and public sector.They were to ensure the draft policy reflected a common understanding of the key challenges facing Botswana’s entrepreneurs and inform a common vision for prioritized solutions that can accelerate entrepreneurship in Botswana.

Minister of Investment Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo said the ministry commits to take on board all the insights derived from the policy hack and will ensure that they are considered for adoption into the NEP. She said the ever changing and disruptive technologies pose opportunities and challenges to both traditional industries as well as government therefore a new approach to public policy making being the Policy Hackathon has emerged. “To this end the policy hack is defined to help both public and private sector leaders from entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world to experiment and leverage this approach,” said Kenewendo.

The new NEP is developed to provide a framework to stir the creation of new startups and expansion of existing enterprises with high growth potential as well as addressing the challenges that may constrain their development. Kenewendo highlighted that the NEP 2019 emphasizes export led growth, hence it is focused at fostering entrepreneurship as well as promoting SMMEs development with a view to creating globally competitive industries. It also strengthens coordination among all institutions involved in entrepreneurship and SMMEs development for effective implementation of the policy.

“We are at the beginning of a process that is bringing together members of Botswana’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Even after the Policy is passed by parliament, we must continue to hear from all of you to fine tune the policy’s implementation and ensure that it meets your needs and expectations,” she said.

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Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft

The MidweekSun Admin

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Botswana Railways CEO, Louis Makwinja

Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.

Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.

There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”

The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”

During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.

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Calls to improve crop yields with technology

Keikantse Lesemela

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Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.

Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.

Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.

She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.

Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.

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